Another day on the InterWebs, another blogger squabble: This one has to do with the quality of online tech journalism itself, and it comes from a rather ironic source.
But first, some backstory. It starts with Path, a mobile social networking app that did a major privacy faceplant last week. Developer/blogger Arun Thampi discovered that Path 2.0 automatically copies users' smartphone contacts to its servers without asking permission or notification. As privacy violations go, this is way worse than anything Facebook has ever done, and it approaches Google's Wi-Fi spying debacle.
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Path CEO Dave Morin's first response was to say, in effect, "Meh, no big deal, we do this to ensure a better experience, blah blah blah, but we are finally getting around to telling our users this is happening, so calm down already."
That did not go over very well on the InterWebs. So Morin's second response was to cry mea culpa, offer an abject apology, and fix the problem. That was the right thing to do. But now everyone in that little tech bubble is singing Morin's praises instead of asking what the frak he was thinking by stealing everyone's address books in the first place.
Nick Bilton at the New York Times had the temerity to ask this question, pointing out along the way that such blithe data sharing could have serious consequences for the wrong users. For that, he gets roasted by former TechCrunchers-turned-venture-capitalists, MG Siegler and Michael Arrington.
Faithful readers may remember a little spat I had with Siegler in October 2010, when I complained in this space about many of the same things Siegler has apparently just discovered about the blogosphere -- only my complaints were about him and TechCrunch.
Siegler's 2,100-word rant is sure to exceed most sane human beings' tolerance for whining, so I'll just quote a representative snippet:
Most of what is written about the tech world -- both in blog form and old school media form -- is b******t. I won't try to put some arbitrary label on it like 80 percent, but it's a lot. There's more b******t than there is 100 percent pure, legitimate information.
The problem is systemic. Print circulation is dying and pageviews are all that matter in keeping advertisers happy. This means, whether writers like it or not, there's an underlying drive for both sensationalism and more, more, more.
You won't find a more accurate description of TechCrunch anywhere. Bravo, Siegler.