From the Editors
Why does it continue to surprise people when Twitter breaks news before you hear it on "the news." News organizations don't magically summon information - they gather it from individuals on the scene. If the people experiencing an event can easily broadcast info before the reporters arrive, it's no shocker they sometimes do. All Twitter reported that, "amazingly," a Tweet about Whitney Houston's death went out "almost a whole hour" before the Associated Press became the first mainstream news outfit to emit an alert about it. "Twitter has traced the first tweet about Houston's death back to user @BarBeeBritt, who enquired 'Is Whitney Houston really dead?' to her 799 followers at 1602 PST on February 11." The big question is how this "first tweet" sounds like a response to something else. Maybe there's a mystery network even faster than Twitter?!
In other media-coverage non-shockers, THR says Entertainment Tonight scored "an impressive 36% jump" in viewership covering the tragedy, so at least someone was making lemonade. UK-based Digital Spy reported that Apple scandalously jacked up the prices of Whitney Houston music on iTunes after her death: "Houston's 2007 Ultimate Collection increased by £3 to £7.99 in the space of just 30 minutes, with iTunes users reporting that they were prevented from downloading the LP at its original advertised price while the update occurred." Houston, we have a problem! But people are so cynical and quick to lay blame, says TUAW. It wasn't Apple that hiked the prices, it was Sony, which owns the music. TUAW calls this a classic example of a failure to think first and type later. But if everyone typed later, we wouldn't find out about stuff so soon.
At least you can feel less guilty about owning an iPhone, thanks to reports that the Fair Labor Association is auditing the factories where the gadgets are made, including one that experienced a rash of worker suicides. (The photo here depicts dozens of workers being forced raise the retail prices on Whitney Houston music.) "Finally," says BetaBeat about the factory inspections. "Was it the segment on The Daily Show, one of the iTunes store's bestselling TV shows? Or the eye-opening investigative report from the New York Times, prominently featured in every other Apple commercial? Or that episode of one of the most downloaded podcasts/radio shows in the country, This American Life? Or - after weeks of silence - Apple's most famous fanboy, David Pogue, finally weighing in? Whatever it was, Apple is now blessing and participating in the Fair Labor Association's 'unprecedented' inspection of Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer whose negligence towards human rights has been opened to the world in recent months." 9 to 5 Mac reports that the first details from early audits "are starting to trickle in" and working conditions at Foxconn's iPad plant are 'far better' than those at their factories elsewhere in the country." It's not even a sweatshop really: the problem is boredom and monotony. Isn't there an app for that? But some cynics aren't impressed with the new inspections. Says one commenter at Boing Boing "TRANSLATION: Apple is going to redefine the concept of 'fair labor' in its own interests." Can't we all just blame Sony?
Meanwhile, rumors about the forthcoming iPad 3 are enough to make anybody sweat. Reports iMore: "According to sources who have been reliable in the past, Apple currently plans to hold their iPad 3 announcement on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Along with the 2048×1536 Retina display, the iPad 3 will feature a quad-core Apple A6 system-on-a-chip, and possibly 4G LTE networking." Repair Labs posted what it claims is an exclusive photo of the back housing of the awaited gizmo "This back housing provides an interesting look into the changes we can expect," including maybe a different camera and "more battery." Cult of Mac has posted some more sneaky pictures including "a flex cable containing the sleep/wake button, the volume buttons, and the mute switch." Hard to understand why assembly workers for this stuff get bored.
Finally, there's a tempest in tech blogging this week, and we'll try to sort it all out here. On Monday, Dan Lyons, formerly the Fake Steve Jobs and now blogging at Real Dan, wrote a scathing takeout accusing Michael Arrington and MG Sigler of exploiting their influence as tech bloggers (TechCrunch / CrunchBase) to extract money from wealthy investors and equity from startups by launching CrunchFund, an "angel fund" investing in companies that the bloggers cover. Lyons noted how a New York Times Bits blog post by Nick Bilton criticizing Path, one of the CrunchFunded companies, elicited a "a blistering critique" of Nick Bilton from Arrington at his Uncrunched blog and also an attack from Sigler at his Paris Lemon blog. The Lyons grenade elicited more reaction. From Paris Lemon: "Outside of accusing myself and Michael of shaking down startups (libel?), accusing me of lying ... and getting things flat-out wrong ... Lyons doesn't actually say all that much." Arrington blogs that he is hurt: I'm surprised that my mother wasn't mentioned, frankly. If I was the person that Dan Lyons says I am, I would be a psychopath. I don't understand why he wouldn't even consider the fact that I'm simply speaking my mind...There's no way to look at my record and think that I am somehow a hack for hire." Incidentally, the initial criticism of Path was that it intentionally uploaded iPhone users address books, then gave an "oops " apology. Lyons' follow up to the whole flame war was to report that Apple says "from now on any app that wants to use your contact info will have to ask for explicit permission. Perfect response!" So we've all learned a lesson here: It's really not Apple 's fault!