You’ve Been Disconnected

I normally don’t follow-up with related posts so close together. But after the Engadget/Apple debacle yesterday, I can’t resist. Coupled with the recent launch of Guy Kawasaki’s Truemors, the net seems to be swirling with even more rumors than usual. Why do we have this obsession with innuendo? Just look at the original language of the Engadget post:

“This one doesn’t bode well for Mac fans and the iPhone-hopeful: we have it on authority that as of today, the iPhone launch is being pushed back from June to… October (!), and Leopard is again seeing a delay, this time being pushed all the way back to January. Of 2008. The latest WWDC Leopard beta will still be handed out, but it looks like Apple-quality takes time, and we’re sure Jobs would remind everyone that it’s not always about “writing a check”, but just how much time are these two products really going to take?” (link to updated post)

“This one doesn’t bode well” and “we have it on authority” implies a level of certainty I find interesting. Now take a look at the language in the updated post:

“Here’s the story. A trustworthy source supplied us with an actual internal Apple email that went out to thousands of Apple employees earlier today (published after the break). The fact that this was an email sent within Apple’s internal email system to its employees is not in question. Let us reiterate: this was an ACTUAL email distributed within Apple’s internal email system to Apple employees.” (link to updated post)

We’ve gone from rumor/speculation to fact. In this update consider the phrases “here’s the story,” “a trustworthy source,” and “an actual internal Apple email.” Based on Engadget’s post, followed by the clarification,

Apple’s stock promptly tanked on massive selling, going from $107.89 to $103.42 in six minutes (11:56 – 12:02). This wiped just over $4 billion off of Apple’s market capitalization. A lot of people lost a lot of money very quickly…By 12:22 Apple stock had mostly recovered and it ended the day down just $1.40/share, or $1.25 billion in market cap.” (link)

Rumors are not bold words. Rumors can create a vicious cycle of consequences. As of right now, the true source of the email (i.e. the original writer) hasn’t been publicly identified. Apple’s left trying to regain $1.25 billion in value, and shareholders must, once again, wonder what’s real and what’s not. Yes, the email proved false, but it did come from Apple’s system. So who can the shareholder trust? And I have to wonder if Engadget will face credibility issues in the future because it relied on “a trustworthy source.”

Given how quickly we can shoot the words into the void, don’t they warrant some careful consideration? The words matter. If people don’t understand that reality, similar situations will play out over and over again. Journalists usually need more than one source to publish certain stories. Maybe we should consider whether a similar standard, or even any standard at all, should apply on the net.



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May 2007
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