Golden Gobblers 2012: A year in digital dodos

So many birdbrains, so little time -- but Cringely manages to round up several specimens who deserve to be roasted

It's time again for that beloved holiday tradition in Cringeville known as the Golden Gobblers. These awards were created to honor individuals in the world of technology whose giblets we'd be happy to see roasted and served on a platter.

Last year the Golden Gobblers honored naughty Twitter user and now ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, doomsday evangelist Harold Camping, and famous bald guy Steve Ballmer, among others. This year's 10 winners are all equally deserving to get stuffed. Here they are.

[ Before the food coma sets in, put your thinking caps on and try to solve this Hollywood whodunit: What's eating emails in iCloud? | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

Scott Forstall. The now former senior VP for Apple lost his way -- and his job -- when he failed to apologize for the Mapocalypse, the spectacular failure of Apple's new maps app for iOS 6. Apparently Forstall really did intend to put the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of the East River and for the apps 3D flyovers to look like MC Escher drawings. They call these devices "magical" for a reason.

Paul Ceglia. The man who claims to own half of Facebook is now facing federal charges after allegedly faking a contract between himself and then-college-student Mark Zuckerberg. The Web designer from upstate New York laid claim to Facebook in July 2010 after producing a contract signed by Zucky that allegedly gave him half ownership in a project called "PageBook."

When the feds impounded Ceglia's computer, they found a copy of a 2003 contract between him and Zuckerberg, but no mention of PageBook. Now Ceglia is facing up to 40 years in the pokey for mail and wire fraud.

The good news: If convicted, he's sure to add lots of new friends in prison.

ICANN. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers earns a special collective Golden Gobbler this year. Not only did ICANN open the floodgates to possibly hundreds of new top-level domains (sowing the seeds of massive future confusion while making a tidy $350 million on application fees), it introduced, then abandoned a series of laughably inept schemes to ensure that all 1,930 applications would be considered fairly. My favorite: the digital archery contest, which measured how accurately applicants logged into ICANN's website at a predetermined time, give or take a few milliseconds.

These guys make the Keystone Kops look like Navy Seal Team 6.

Rachel Nyswander Thomas. The VP of government affairs for the Direct Marketing Association earns her spot in our list of Butterballs for suggesting that future Do Not Track technology, which is intended to keep advertisers from tracking our movements across the Web, be tweaked to allow advertisers to track our movements across the Web. That's a bit like hiring McDonald's to cater the National Vegans Convention.

Frederick Humphries. The FBI agent who launched the investigation into Paula Broadwell's email accounts did it as a favor for gal pal and wannabe-Kardashian Jill Kelley. He then leaked news of the probe to two right-wing congressmen, igniting one of the biggest scandals in CIA history and bringing down its director, General David Petraeus. Somewhere along the line he generously shared a pic of his pecs with Kelley, launching an FBI investigation into his own conduct.

Hey Fred: Next time someone asks you to eviscerate someone's privacy over a tawdry but otherwise legal affair, please do us a favor and keep your shirt on.

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