Fake Steve Jobs Unmasked

Fake Steve Jobs Comes To Forbes.com – Forbes.com

It was too good to last this long, but last it did. Fake Steve is no longer a mystery. It’s Dan Lyons, Senior Editor at Forbes.

“A posting on the New York Times Web site Sunday named Daniel Lyons, a technology writer for Forbes, as the author who conceived and writes the blog. “I’m stunned that it’s taken this long,” Lyons, 46, told the newspaper. “I have not been that good at keeping it a secret. I’ve been sort of waiting for this call for months.”

A lot of people knew this. So it is amazing that it has been secret for as long as it has. Good for Dan. He got a book out of it and FSJ will live on at Forbes.com.

Dan and I went to prep school together. We were on the wrestling team together. Then we worked at the Lawrence Eagle Tribune in the early 80s as cub reporters, then PC Week, then Forbes. He is, doubtlessly, one of the funniest humans on the planet, as anyone who has read his novel, Dog Days, will attest.
Preorder the book based on FSJ — Options it goes on sale in mid-October.

And the Times gets no glory for ending the party.
Fake Steve last wrote:

“Well it had to happen. Honestly I can’t believe it’s taken this long. But as you may have heard, I’ve been busted by a newspaper reporter. My cover has been blown. Guy named Brad Stone, who works for the New York Times. Have you heard of him? Well, tip of the hat to you, Brad Stone. You did the sleuthing. You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home. Now you’ve ruined the mystery of Fake Steve, robbing thousands of people around the world of their sense of childlike wonder. Hope you feel good about yourself, you mangina. One bright side is that at least I was busted by the Times and not Valleywag. I really, really enjoyed seeing those guys keep guessing wrong. For six months Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth put their big brains together and couldn’t come up with the answer. Guy from the Times did it in a week. So much for the trope about smarty-pants bloggers disrupting old media. Brilliant. My only regret is that we didn’t get a chance to see Bigglesworth take a few more swings and misses.”

I’m not saying how long I knew. But it was a privilege while it lasted.

Infrastructure and economics of online journalism

“Never argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton”

“Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.”

“The first duty of a free press it to turn a profit.”

It’s time for a new aphorism for a new journalism. This article by the Inquirer (the unfortunately named online tech journal that always gives me pause in thinking of that sleaze rag The National Enquirer) is a good wrap-up of the changes in the fortunes and mastheads of the tech publishing world, one that has seen in recent months:

  • The cessation of print publishing by InfoWorld and a shift to an online model
  • The Harry McCracken-Colin Crawford dust-up at PC World that saw editorial trump the business side
  • Serious questions about the economic viability of Red Herring
  • Serious questions about whether Business 2.0 would publish this fall
  • Jim Louderback resigning from PC World and joining Revision3
  • etc.

Taken in a bullet list, the events don’t really add up to much more than a sequence of the usual churn and change in the media world, but what is occurring, and which the Inquirer piece nails, is a movement away from large infrastructure publishing companies — companies with offices and expensive content management systems, and all the overhead one would associate with any commercial venture, to little work-at-home ventures like GigaOM which, while not scoring revenues on a scale of an IDG or a Knight Ridder, are focused on the talent and not the management, the content and not the content management.

As the printing press goes free, as the difference between one page and another is utterly fungible and distinguished only by the contents of the page, then the power and the profit shifts to the creator and away from the administrator and the salesman. This is the true important impact of the publishing 2.0 revolution — not the mashups, not the attitude, not the user participation. Those are byproducts that even the big publishing firms can try to co-opt (but usually fail to do to internal internia and constipation). While micropublishing may not attract top line attraction, it can make a very good living, in some cases, for the very best talent. Fake Steve, based on traffic, is worth about $250,000 a year — the issue is how does an anonymous blogger sell it. The solution is not ad networks like Federated Media, AdBrite, etc.

Check out the Inquirer article.

Back to the title of this post. I still maintain, as I did in December January, that it is entirely possible to create a publishing company with zero investment in software licenses. It’s the destruction of that barrier to entry that is crushing the big publishers more than any other.

Tying the Turk’s Head

In marlinspike seamanship there are practical and decorative arts. Practical work is the province of the rigger, serving and parceling, baggywrinkle and splices, the rope and cable work necessary to step spars, rig them, and get a boat in order for the sea. The decorative arts were born probably out of boredom in the forecastle of many a vessel, and I’ve read of captains who felt it important to lay in a store of “small stuff” before casting off — thin line and twine — so their crews could keep their hands occupied and their minds off of wormy hardtack and tyrannical mates.

I’ve always been a fan of the Turk’s Head, a relatively ancient knot that is best described as a circular braid tied around tillers and railings, and people’s wrists and ankles — hence its other name, the Sailor’s Bracelet. They aren’t the easiest thing to learn how to tie, but once you do a few it becomes pretty simple and takes only ten minutes to knock off a simple bracelet for a nephew or a niece. These are popular emblems of the summer for kids around Cotuit, and I can recall wearing mine back to school and leaving it on well into the fall term until it became too dirty and smelly to ignore anymore and had to be cut off.

Turk’s Heads can be fantastically complex affairs that are much broader than a bracelet and can cover fairly wide expanses. The old village doctor, Dr. Donald Higgins, was a prodigious knot tier and the tiller of his catboat always sported a beautiful example of one of the more complex knots.

Jack Gartside Boats
Uncle Fester — who knows my mathematical limits — would laugh his butt off if he saw me try to pass the following statement off without attribution, so of course I will credit the Wikipedia. Let’s just say there are some very interesting patterns possible … and rendered impossible, but the math behind the knot is what makes Turk’s Heads an interesting diversion on a rainy day:

“Mathematically, the number of strands is the greatest common divisor of the number of leads and the number of bends; the knot may be tied with a single strand if and only if the two numbers are coprime.For example, 3 lead x 5 bight (3×5), or 5 lead x 7 bight (5×7).”

I won’t give instructions, but there are some good resources. I do not suggest learning how to tie the knot following Clifford Ashley’s The Ashley Book of Knots. And Tom Hall’s Introduction to Turk’s-Head Knots, is good, but also a bit dense. My daughter got the knack from following a simple single-sheet at Jan Brett’s site.

Now my next project it to make a fancy lanyard as strap for my new sunglasses.