Bite of the Apple

The EFF have just given Apple Computers a hefty kick up their corporate ass which they so thoroughly deserved. Apple were trying to use the courts to force bloggers who posted leaked information to reveal their sources, rather than actually do their own investigation (easier for a large company to use lawyers to intimidate individual bloggers) and argued that since bloggers were not bona fide news reporters they didn’t share the right to protect their sources as journalists did. Although they rather undermined this argument of theirs by then saying even if they were journalists they should have to disclose their sources (because corporate secrecy is more important the freedom of speech obviously).

A couple of things spring to my mind over this – first off, one of the topics millions in and out of the blogosphere have been discussing is the fact that blogs which report news items are essentially turning us into citizen reporters and any IT company should be aware of this by now or they aren’t paying attention. Personally I think that is a good thing – although it can be abused or just plain wrong sometimes it also puts many extra eyes, ears and thoughts into monitoring what companies, governments and others are doing and discussing it in the light of day – very democratic and perhaps where once constitutions like that of the US called for the right (and duty) of citizen’s to form a militia to protect the nation perhaps today citizen bloggers are the new cyber milita of interactive, grassroots democracy, with the right to keep and to bear blogs. As old Tom Paine might have put it, these are the times that try blogger’s souls (you just know if he were around today Tom would be running a kick-ass blog, of course if we were to extend this analogy the EFF would now stand for the Electronic Founding Fathers).

Secondly, I am tired of corporations who seem to think they can trample all over the rights of citizens in democratic nations to express their thoughts freely. Perhaps they are inspired by the sorts of legislation which governments have passed since 9-11 restricting freedoms. Both those who work for these corporations and those who do not suffer from this corporate bullying – we are big, powerful with a closet full of evil lawyers like Monty Burns has in the Simpsons and we can threaten and bully little individuals at will. Except you can’t, because unlike you we are connected, interwired and when you treat a few bloggers like this you are going to get your name blackened around the world by bloggers, which will be picked up by news services – that these corporate monoliths don’t understand this yet after several high profile examples illustrates their narrow-minded, might-is-right approach perfectly. We’re not quite in a William Gibson-esque coprporate dystopia yet and blogs have a role to play in making sure we never are. And if you happen to be a major maker of computing technology it probably is not a good idea to piss off the people who are likely to use your products – that is basic business common sense.

And lastly, do you remember when Apple used to be cool; the hip, designer, easy-to-use underdog facing the faceless masses of Microsoft and PCs? And now, as my patron saint Bill of Hicks would have put it, they are sucking on Satan’s cock. Oh, Apple, hast thou now tasted of the forbidden fruit which bears thy name? Except this apple wasn’t the apple of knowledge in the Garden of Eden but the apple of corporate hubris. And some of us remember that great movie-style advert many moons ago with the faceless grey drones watching a giant screen of the two minute hate. An athletic young woman races in, pursued by security, past the unthinking drones, swings a hammer and releases it, shattering the giant screen and silencing the ranting figure telling everyone how to think. The tag line was “why 1984 doesn’t need to be like 1984.” It was a clever and spectacular bit of marketing, pushing the product as a way for individuals to be self-empowered, to take on the Big Guys and express themselves.

The product was for the old Apple Mac. The same company which now tries to sue bloggers who used that technology to do just what that advert promised them it would help them to do. That’s as hypocritical as, say, a book company promoting themselves through adverts as being protectors of free speech then firing an employee for exercising the same right. Oh, hold on a minute… Apple, once you were cool, now you look like corporate bully boys and instead of delivering terrific technology that is easy to use and empowers individuals you just sell over-priced designer goods with white wires to style monkeys and sue those who you don’t agree with – even when some of the sites involved are sites which generally create an awareness of Apple products and celebrate them for the most part (suing them is a bit like when Fox’s lawyers threatened all the fan sites in the 90s who had X-Files and Simpsons stuff up for breaching copyright, even though they were non profit and created free advertising for them – duhhhh). Guess which blogger will never be buying an Apple Ipod?