Headline Created to Enable Controversy

I've won Anil Dash's new intellectual dishonesty award for my item on Bram Cohen's technological manifesto. The award appears to be issued weekly, which means Karl Rove goes home empty-handed.

Dash faults me for not approaching Cohen in e-mail, where he could have explained himself before the story got more traction with weblogs and the media.

Perhaps he has a point, but I regarded an essay Cohen linked on his front page for two years as fair game for evaluation, independent of anything else he might say on the subject, and I don't know the guy. The idea his manifesto might be a parody never entered my mind, nor did it occur to anyone else I read yesterday.

The headline was based on my read of Cohen's statement "I build systems to ... commit digital piracy." It was a jaw-dropping thing to discover through a comment on Ed Felten's weblog.

I would never try to mislead people on Workbench to spike traffic or bait the media. I gave Cohen's statement the huge play I thought it deserved, and when I was told he called it a parody, I added an update to the post. Between that update and visitor comments, I think readers could fairly judge the justification for giving it a headline as big as "Boy Trapped in Refrigerator Eats Own Foot."

As for my last media hack, the idea I would use my 36 hours of fame to criticize the papacy was never entertained. Though I have concerns with the church that would explain the 26 years that have passed since my last confession, I'm not particularly eager to become the Catholic Salman Rushdie.


I can see what you're saying -- I've only heard about the story after the fact, and I thought the Wired News piece was unfair and the connection seemed really weak.

I wasn't aware of the homepage link until you mentioned it, but it still seems like a bit of a stretch and seems to have gotten blown out of proportion by others.

Karl's in the running for lifetime achievement. :)

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