Mac Lab Report

Banned by Macworld, Pro and Con

- 2002.07.08

Recent reports from various websites, such as Applelinks and GraphicPower, indicate that Apple Computer is forbidding press passes to be issued to certain website representatives because their sites promote rumors and speculation about Apple hardware and software offerings.

GraphicPower has decided to shut down, which I think is probably an extreme reaction, and Nick dePlume has taken the high and mighty road, which I think is somewhat hypocritical since he runs a rumor site.

Since no list of banned sites has been published, for all I know this January I'm going to have to pony up $15 for my own floor pass. Not that Low End Mac is all that well known as a rumor site, but you never know with Apple. Some of the banned sites don't seem to publish rumors, either.

Let's take a calmer look at the situation and the reactions of various sites.

First, when Apple is feeling successful, or rather, almost so, they tend to get arrogant. This may or may not be a side effect of the Jobsian revolution, but it is a pretty well acknowledged fact. The examples are well known to everyone: A series of snubs for the UK including dropping out of a trade show and ending British English support; summarily cancelling profitable business for PC versions of its acquisitions; ditching the Newton and eMate without warning instead of, say, lowering the price point or selling off the division instead of killing it.

Apple is exercising its ability to shut out rumor sites, to whom the Company has repeatedly demonstrated its disdain. No big surprise there. But the bluntess of the decision, the way it was carried out through a hapless third party (IDG) is demeaning for IDG, Macworld magazine, and the sites shunted aside.

On the other hand.

Apple is a company; it views rumor sites as damaging to its business, so from that perspective its actions are seen as perfectly reasonable.

I won't be at MWNY, and it remains to be seen if I'll be at MWSF. My attendance depends primarily on my budget and schedule and available time to miss teaching. It doesn't depend on whether or not Apple likes me.

If you run a truly independent website, you shouldn't care if Apple likes you either. We all wish the best for Apple, insofar as it promotes our Favorite Computing Platform. Apple is not recognized as a nice company. Innovative, daring, leading; not nice, necessarily, for its own sake. That's okay. They have shareholders to please and profits to account for, and these are bigger issues than small fish like me can influence in the big frying pan that is Apple Computer. (How's that for a well blended metaphor?)

In fact, from a wider perspective, there might even be beneficial side effects of these banning actions - for the sites involved.

How's that, you say?

Now we're going to do a little spinning here, but let's just think a minute before getting all partisan, okay? We're not going to make you dizzy till you puke, like those guys who are rotating over at Wired, but we're going to give you a good whirl.

First, if GraphicPower really shuts down, doesn't that play into Apple's hands? I mean, if Apple's objective is to shut down rumor sites - whether by starving them of information or just plain ticking them off till they quit - then Apple has certainly won. If I were webmaster at GraphicPower, I might consider the sweetest revenge as not giving up but using the publicity to my advantage.

Second, with respect (and with all due respect) to Mr. dePlume, what better tool for future columns to be made even more enticing than the fact that, despite being banned, due to his impressive journalistic prowess and amazing insider connections, he continues to publish his series of articles on Jaguar?

Lastly, let's consider this. I went to our local Mac computer store the other day, a little shop tacked on to the end of a shopping center in Pleasant Hill's brand-spankin' new downtown district. I had to look a long time to find something that (a) I wanted and (b) I could justify purchasing "offline" due to the price. Having made my selection, I asked the clerk, "Ever heard of Low End Mac?" He answered quickly, "No." The point being that even the relatively successful sites like LEM are not well known to the run of the mill Mac-using public.

And yet Apple takes notice of rumor sites (and sites that aren't even rumor oriented) enough to try to shut them down on an individual basis. Kind of like a backhanded compliment, wouldn't you say?

Is it a bad thing that someone at Apple pays attention to your site? I suppose so, if they're actively working against you. Depends on your objectives, I guess. It's encouraging for me; I wonder if anyone at Apple reads LEM regularly.

Like the sites that consider themselves as having "arrived" by receiving - and posting - an Apple cease-and-desist letter, these guys ought to start some sort of "Bondi blue ribbon" campaign to signify "press" that has been banned at the convention.

Oh yeah, and someone should start a "banned from Macworld Webring" and design a little badge with some kind of cute icon with a circle that has a tilted line across it. What better way to receive attention, which is what we all crave in this business?

Jeff Adkins is a relatively annoying columnist with a small enough audience that he doesn't need to be added to any memos.

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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