Gizmodo’s iPhone Prototype Affair Brings Out Worst in Internet

I have been watching the events surrounding the Gizmodo situation with the alleged iPhone 4G prototype. From what I’ve seen so far, there are far too many voices involved. We should all calm down and also take things more seriously.

First of all, history teaches us that we have not heard the full story, and it may be many months before all the facts come out.

Next, the series of events we’ve been privy to so far are being treated like an episode of “Law and Order” on TV. I submit that if your house had been broken into by police and all your Macs confiscated, you would not only be horrified, but you’d be doubly aghast about the callous remarks made by a few on the Internet.

I have a theory that the combination of the Internet and video games tend to re-create a false sense of reality when there’s too much exposure. Add a little bit of youthful inexperience, and there’s plenty of opportunity for missteps. Wise old print journalists with plenty of grey hair may have no clue about CSS and HTML5, but they do know something about journalism, the law and how to stay out of trouble. I’m not directly or indirectly referring to Gizmodo on this — they do have legal representation. I’m just saying that many websites, in general, are loosely connected to reality: the reality of warrants, subpoenas, police investigations, the practicalities of the practice of law, and how to conduct themselves in the real world. Like recognizing the balance between stolen goods and a lurid story.

This is why I have been standing back, listening and absorbing. I have decided not to pontificate about the case, but I will say something about how I react to the media coverage. I am careful about the sources I read. I ignore the snide and juvenile comments by readers. I’m not going to pass judgment too early. I’m waiting for all the facts to come out.

Most of all, I try to remain cool and sympathetic to the people involved. I am mindful of the family, and I try to put myself in the shoes of the parents of Jason Chen and how they must feel when their son or Gray Powell is vilified or at least made fun of in a callous way. A criminal investigation is underway, attorneys are involved, and the lives of some people may be dramatically altered.

In this era, we have a shoot-from-the-hip Internet. Everybody has an opinion. Everyone thinks you care about their opinion. Or if they don’t care, they care about the paycheck they get pretending that someone cares about their opinion. That’s another reason I haven’t commented on this series of events.

I’m trying to be wise and relaxed. I think about the reality of the events unfolding, and I try to use my skills to separate the facts from frenzy.

I hope you’re doing the same.