Golden Gobblers 2011: The biggest birdbrains in tech

Who are the tech turkeys of the year? Cringely has the answers -- and they're more fowl than you can imagine

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Anonymous. It was fun for a while, watching you bedevil worthy targets like HB Gary and Sony. Then you went and trashed the site, spilling the personal info of a lot of perfectly innocent folks. Now the endless parade of alleged evildoers is getting old. Who are you going to direct your anger at next -- that kid who stole your lunch money and pushed you into a puddle in fifth grade?

Also: Retire the Guy Fawkes masks, please. They're really tired. How about Smiley Faces? Or maybe Jack from Jack in the Box? The Taco Bell chihuahua?

Linton Johnson. The former spokeshuman for Bay Area Rapid Transit apparently came up with the not-so-brilliant idea of thwarting a planned protest over a passenger's shooting by cutting off cell coverage inside BART stations. That was like trying to put out a brushfire with a gallon of gasoline. He compounded the damage by trying to recruit "loyal riders" to appear at news conferences about the protests and read material he'd scripted. That worked about as well as the cellphone scheme. After Anonymous released photos of Johnson exposing himself at a San Francisco nightclub, he was reassigned to a "new role" at BART.

Good idea. Somebody needs to clean those toilets.

Steve Ballmer. The world's loudest CEO was MIA for most of 2011, but he resurfaced at the Web 2.0 conference in October to make dubious pronouncements about Microsoft's success, pooh-pooh social networks, and trash-talk Google phones. Also, it turns out he does a mean Charlie Sheen: Winning, winning, winning, winning, winning.

Steve, where ya been, baby? We missed ya. Welcome back.

My blogging brethren. This award goes to those who devoted the most ink -- sorry, pixels to a fictional product in the history of the InterWebs. I am talking of course about the as-yet-mythical iPhone 5, which was not announced last October by Apple, despite confident predictions from dozens of HTML-stained wretches. This award is split equally among TechCrunch, Mashable, Boy Genius Report, VentureBeat, ReadWriteWeb, and the many many others who got swept up in iHysteria and had nothing but page views to show for it.

This is what happens when you spend all day every day gobbling up Apple rumors.

Tarandeep Gill. Last July, a "Vancouver based Psychometric Consulting company" calling itself AptiQuant released a study in which it revealed that users of Internet Explorer were dumber than fence posts. That juicy bit of statistical eye candy was snapped up by the BBC, CNN, NPR, and yes, yours truly (though in my defense, I never put all that much stock in the data, I just thought it was funny). Well, it was a hoax, perpetrated by Gill to earn some cheap publicity for his shopping comparison website.

Move on over Tarandeep, I'm sitting next to you. Only instead of turkey this year we're serving crow. Now pass the giblets.

Did I miss anyone? Who's the biggest turkey in your book? Nominate your gobblers below or email me:

This article, "Golden Gobblers 2011: The biggest birdbrains in tech," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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