The 10 dumbest tech moves of 2010

Among this year's award winners: Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer, Mark Zuckerberg, Google, and the CIA

It's been quite a year. And in what has become a tradition here in Cringeville, it's time to honor the most malicious, obnoxious, offensive, or nonsensical behavior in technology. This year's winners include captains of industry, titans of technology, sultans of sweat, and a number of other people desperately in need of a clue.

Without further ado, I give you the 2010 Moonie Award winners:

[ Also on InfoWorld: It's been a heckuva year. Look back on the travails of Google, Facebook, Apple, and more through Cringely's eyes. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

1. I pity your grotesque ignorance on the topic but feel strangely compelled to respond anyway award. We applaud none other than Steve Jobs, who became a one-stop-email-response shop for iPhone developers miffed over being dropped from the App Store, customers complaining about iPhone 4 reception problems, would-be journalism students grousing over Apple's less-than-responsive media team (join the club), journalist-bloggers with an ax to grind, and yes, even readers of this blog. You get the feeling maybe he's just lonely?

2. We love our customers, but email our CEO and we'll sue your ass award. This prize goes to AT&T and its benevolent dictator Randall Stephenson. After receiving two polite emails from a ticked-off AT&T user (is there any other kind?), Stephenson's executive team left the user a voice mail containing threats of legal action if the user didn't back off. Naturally, customer Giorgio Galante posted the voice mail recording to his blog, Engadget published a story about it, and the bigwigs at AT&T were once again revealed as complete and utter tools.

3. Best use of a reality distortion field not by Steve Jobs award. This year's winner has to be Steve Ballmer, who seems to be increasingly operating in a parallel universe inside his own imagination. At various times during 2010, he called the Apple iPad "just another PC," welcomed Google to "the world of competition," and said Windows Phone 7 is "early" to the smartphone market. When the big comet comes in 2012 to destroy the earth and spirit away the chosen people, it's making a special stop at Redmond just to pick him up.

4. We stole your content, now you get to pay us for the privilege award. Why look -- it's Judith Griggs, erstwhile editor of Cooks Source magazine, who managed to tick off the entire Internet at once by making the dubious claim everything published online was in "the public domain," and then sending a snotty email to a writer who complained, saying the writer should be paying her for the time she spent "improving" the original piece. Cooks Source magazine is now dead, and Judith is looking for work. I hear Bojangles Fried Chicken is hiring fry cooks.

5. Do it to me one more time, I can never get enough award. Come on down, file swappin' mama Jammie Thomas-Rassett, who keeps fighting the RIAA and losing worse each time. Having walked away from a $54,000 judgement (and a $25,000 settlement offer), Thomas-Rassett is now on the hook for $1.5 million -- at least until the next trial concludes.

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