There is a post on Doc Searls’ blog with an email from Alan Herrell who appeared to be the person behind many of the attacks on Kathy Sierra on the meankids.org blog. It seems that the posts published under his name or credited to him were published by someone involved in stealing Herrell’s digital identity and posing as him. Here is an excerpt:
I am no longer me. My main machine despite my best efforts has been hacked, my accounts compromised including my email. and has been disconnected from the internet.
How did this happen? When did this happen? shit doc, i don’t have a fucking clue. I thought i was pretty sharp. I guess not.
just about every online account that i have has been compromised. Most importantly my digital identity and user/password for typepad and wordpress. I have been doing damage control, for my clients. How the fuck i got to be part of this mess is revolting.
The Kathy Sierra mess is horrific. I am not who ever used my identity and my picture!!
I am sick beyond words over this whole episode. Kathy Sierra may not be on my top 10 list , but nobody deserves this filthy character assaination.
Searls said he has known Herrell for years and believes him based on his relationship with him over the years. That being the case the attack on Kathy Sierra, Mayram Scoble and others becomes more and more insidious.
“This is the Social Web. This is the point where the distinction between what’s going on offline and what’s going on online isn’t important anymore. Posting an anonymous comment is the same as yelling at someone across the street. The only difference is that its recorded for others to see.
And you know what? That might be a good thing. The silver lining is that this behavior is public, and the community is pushing back on itself. The right things are being said. “This is unacceptable.” “This is wrong.” “This is bullshit.” We won’t stand for this.”
Granted the Web resembles the offline world more and more and the distinction starts to fade and, yes, the online community is pushing back (and may be in an even stronger position to push back than ordinary citizens are offline for various reasons) but this is still horrendous. I think I agree with Porter and at the same time, I still feel ill. Maybe I am clinging to this notion of the Web as a happy place …
Update: Denise Howell has posted her thoughts on her ZDNet blog, Lawgarithms. Worth reading!
Update 2: Kathy Sierra and Christopher Locke have published statements about this incident in anticipation of a story which appeared on CNN yesterday (
anyone see the segment on YouTube/Google Video by any chance? could you post the link in the comments? found it!). Kathy accepts that the three well-known bloggers she initially mentioned and who established the meankids.org blog did not post the threats but she still feels they are responsible in some way for content published on that site.
Interesting news items including Vox, OpenID and blogging from the Six Apart blog
I just had a chat with Vincent about the Awards debate and we pretty much came to the conclusion that the real cause for concern is probably (most likely) not the processes that were employed in the voting and judging stages but rather what was (or wasn’t) said about them. There are people who become concerned when there is less apparent transparency and when they voice those concerns they are not necessarily "whiney bastards" but, as Mike and/or Dave pointed out, their voice is important. For one thing, those "whiney bastards" are making a really good point. Blogs in South Africa are no longer only read by a couple geeks who don’t go out into sunlight much. More and more people are sitting up and paying attention to blogs and when we start flaming each other it makes the local blogosphere look immature and not nearly ready to sit with the grown-ups.
That is not what we should be working towards. Jonathan said the purpose of the 2007 SA Blog Awards is to showcase SA blogs. Is this what we want to show South African business and local media? In my previous post I flippantly asked whether the "A" on A-list stands for "Ambassador" and as I write this I think it does. Our little industry or segment of the media industry (for lack of a better term) is getting big and we are starting to be noticed by all the right people and if their first impression is a bunch of geeky flamers then so much for the mainstream adoption of new media for the next year or two. All we need is an article in a mainstream newspaper painting a picture of SA bloggers as a collective joke and we may as well go back to using our blogs for personal diaries to talk about our sticker collections and that boy/girl/hermaphrodite at school we like.
I’m not saying we must suddenly become serious and talk about spreadsheets and pie graphs (many of us are Mac users dammit – ok, obscure joke) and that we should do anything other than express our authentic voices because I am most definitely not. We have to keep doing that, expressing that voice. What we do need to do is remember that we are not alone anymore. Mommy and Daddy (or big brother and big sister if you prefer) are taking an interest in what we do and if we don’t start acting like grown-ups we won’t be treated like grown-ups and we all know how that goes … early bedtimes, eating veggies we don’t like and no pocket money.
As for the Blog Awards, what would really help is a post or two from the organisers revealing the behind the scenes stuff at the Awards. Mike has mentioned that being a judge he saw how fair the whole process was (Jonathan made the point that our humble Blog Awards are probably better designed that the Bloggies and that wouldn’t be the first time South Africa outdid the rest of the world – think the 2004/2006 Constitutions which were groundbreaking in many respects). I believe that what we need is for Jonathan or someone else who is in a position to speak to be a bit more transparent and let us see behind the curtain at what the Wizard was doing to make all that smoke and noise. Once they do that I believe we will see just what an amazing job Jonathan & Co have done for us the last few years and there will be some pretty embarrassed people, I reckon.
Tertia sent around this email to a couple bloggers this morning. I think her email is fair comment in light of the controversy over the 2007 SA Blog Awards and she gave me permission to republish it here:
i know i am a big girl, and i know i am hormonal, but i have been really disappointed and annoyed at how whingey and whiney and moany the SA blogging community have been.
All (some) people seem to do is whine and moan about every thing. The 27 dinners, the blog awards blah blah blah. Ok, ok, you can’t please all the people all the time, but why can’t we at least try and see the positive?
And then, when something really great and positive happens to one of us, one of our little group of local bloggers (I am talking about been short listed as a Blooker prize finalist), hardly any one blogs about it. it is making international headlines, this is a big deal! Can’t believe the names on that list – Frank Warren, Seth Goldin, the guys from Daily Kos! tertia albertyn, negativity, complaints, sa blog awards, let’s talk about something else
Spanning Sync, the cool utility that allows Mac users to synchronise Google Calendar and iCal (both ways) has emerged from beta testing as version 1.0. This is great news and as soon as I found out, I downloaded the latest update and installed it. I should have been a little more cautious though, when I saw an interesting looking download link in the sidebar that said "Download free trial". WTF?
Before I continue, let me just point out that I think Spanning Sync is a fantastic service and short of something like Calgoo, it is probably going to remain a vital part of my GTD stuff on my PowerBook for the near future. As soon as I heard about it I thought to myself that this is a product I would pay for, it is that good and that much needed. I have about half a dozen calendars on Google Calendar and a couple more in iCal so the ability to synchronise them is worth money!
That being said, I am not happy at all with the way the Spanning Sync people brought this new trial to my attention. Aside from the link in the sidebar, this was the first real mention of a free trial:
This, of course, is the dialogue you get after you have installed the application. If you click on "Buy" you are then taken to the following page:
The pricing isn’t too bad. $25 (more or less R190) for a year is not terrible for something I use every day and which could save my ass one day if something goes poof. I certainly wouldn’t pay $65 as a one time purchase fee. I am not alone in this, there are numerous comments on the post announcing version 1.0 where the major complaint is the price. It looks like the installed user base is going to drop quite quickly if the prices remain at this level.
What irks me is how it suddenly came to my attention that I am now paying for the service. Could they not have sent out an email or published a post to announce the charges? Don’t catch me by surprise, even if I privately (or even publicly) decide to pay for the service. Doing that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
For those who are interested, there seems to be a very interesting app called GCALDaemon that works across multiple platforms and synchronises between Google Calendar and desktop apps like iCal, Outlook and Sunbird. There are reports that version 1.0 of Spanning Sync is a dud so I’ll bear this other app in mind if my 14 day trial proves to be less than satisfactory.
What a good example of how not to make customer evangelists out of your users!
(Source: Read/Write Web)
The debate over the 2007 SA Blog Awards has been pretty intense. I had an opportunity to chat to Jonathan Cherry, the co-ordinator/facilitator of the SA Blog Awards for the last three years running about much of the criticism that has been levied against the voting process, the judges and the alignment of the stars when the nominations were announced. Jonathan made an effort to explain some of the processes in a comment on Wozafriday but I don’t think the good stuff has gotten out just yet.
What I understood from a fairly lenthy chat with Jonathan (and to the extent this is wrong, it is all my fault, I wasn’t taking decent notes) is that rather than being an annointing of the top blogs in the various categories in South Africa (and the top SA blog), the Awards are intended to be a showcase of local blogs or blogs by locals. The blogs that ‘win’ are not intended to be represented as the best blogs in South Africa but rather a best of the bunch on show. As Jonathan pointed out, there are some blogs in South Africa that have the most amazing content and yet they were not nominated by enough people to rise to prominence (obviously Wired Gecko is one of these blogs … kidding!). I am not referring to any blog in particular because I still think that visibility in the local blogosphere determines whether enough people are going to give your blog the thumbs up and get you on to the shortlists.
All this criticism about the whole process and we are missing the point. Events like the SA Blog Awards are meant to boost our collective profiles in South Africa and help us to a point where blogs become a firm part of the mainstream consciousness in our little dorpie. This morning’s segment on SABC 2‘s Morning Live is an indication that the Awards are having their desired effect.
In short, the SA Blog Awards is no about you, it is about us and showing the rest of the country what awesome content we publish.
(yes, I know this post doesn’t address all the issues raised – such as the voting process and how the process is judged – so if you have some productive suggestions to improve the whole thing for next year, speak to Jonathan)