The "first guy in line" story is usually pretty funny. These guys are wackos! But Greg Packer, who's been waiting in line for an iPad at Apple's Fifth Ave. store since Tuesday, is way more than a crazed Apple fan.
Did you know Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen has joined eBay's board? Why yes, it's true — and it happened last month. VentureBeat editor Eric Eldon had gotten a belated tip about the hire, and published the story without checking the date. "I made a stupid mistake," he tells me. (He was more oblique in Twitter.) Eldon rapidly took the story down, but not before it was syndicated to The Industry Standard, where it caught the eye of Nicholas Carlson, my former charge at Valleywag who has landed at Silicon Alley Insider.See the hypercompetitive pattern? Hacks have always hustled to scoop rival papers. But tech blogs are being driven to distraction by the notion that they've been beaten by a story. In the rush to publish, they're not even stopping to check their own archives. Checking actual facts is far more cumbersome. Jordan Golson, another former Valleywagger who now blogs at the Industry Standard, made a stink about a report on TheHill.com about iPhones coming to Congress. TheHill.com's overly sensational headline topped a report that merely stated that Congress's administrative arm was testing some iPhones. Golson called the flack quoted in TheHill.com's story, who backpedaled from his earlier statement that "lots" of Congressmen had requested iPhones. Tom Krazit of CNET News, one of the guilty parties cited by Golson for reblogging TheHill.com, got to the bottom of things: Congressional IT administrators were testing a total of 10 iPhones, and all of two Congressmen had asked about getting iPhones instead of the standard-issue BlackBerry. This messy process shows the blogosphere at its best and its worst. Through a series of iterations, the horde of bloggers arrived at the right result. In the meantime, however, a lot of people got the wrongheaded notion that Congress is switching to the iPhone any day now. (I'd note that TheHill.com has yet to retract its initial report; it would not be the first time a flack has said something, regretted it, and then claimed he was misquoted.) There will always be a factchecking squad on the Internet. But I think the reblogging craze will fade over time, as the Web's writers learn the deep satisfaction of telling one's own story for the first time — not repeating someone else's for the nth.
"'Thanks to convoluted laws and corrupt officials, claiming ownership over a piece of property in Bangalore can be as easy as hiring thugs to paint your name on the side of a building.' The chaos makes gangsters who can impose order — like the murderous Muthappa Rai — very wealthy."(Disclosure: Former Valleywag pageview champ Nicholas Carlson now blogs at a higher pay scale for Silicon Alley Insider. Good reblog, Nicholas! Now quit rewriting like you're an NPR foreign correspondent. I work in tech. If I want to meet "the murderous Muthappa Rai," I'll book a junket to visit the call center. (Photo for Wired by Scott Carney, who unlike Carlson actually went to Bangalore.)
Even before he worked at Valleywag, Nicholas Carlson had taken "Alleywag" as his commenter name. I always saw that passion for the site shining through his posts. True, he sometimes exhibited the inevitable traits of his hard-to-manage millennial generation, but he's unique — unique, I tell you! — among the precious snowflakes of his generation in being able to look at his peers' self-involvement with a wry glance. He covered the beat of online advertising adeptly, and made lists smart. What Here's what I think were some of his best pieces. Name your favorite Alleywagiana in the comments. Like me, you can keep following my favorite Gen Y-er on Tumblr. Natch.
We would never sugarcoat someone else's layoffs. Why ours? Gawker Media, our publisher, has told me to cut Valleywag's costs, in anticipation of an advertising recession. In response, I have laid off associate editors Nicholas Carlson and Jackson West and reporter Melissa Gira Grant. They have all been doing excellent work, breaking stories and needling Silicon Valley. But our ultimate boss, Nick Denton, has decided he can't afford them. Paul Boutin and I will continue running the site. Denton's memo:
Before I started working at Valleywag, my favorite posts were always the "too insidery" ones that gave a peek behind the curtain. Here's a brief excerpt from Valleywag's group chat today, as our fearless leader tried to change the topic from Apple's Web services to Cisco, the telecom giant which announced earnings today.
Nicholas Carlson's, Valleywag's geographically handicapped New York reporter, is getting married this Sunday to college sweetheart Anna Brew. Awwww! Aren't they adorable? And he's webcasting the event on Justin.tv. Ewwww. Isn't that horrible? One way or another, our last experiment with drunkblogging was so successful — the drunk part, anyway — that we're repeating it this afternoon at 4 p.m., at Moose's in North Beach.
Nicholas Carlson is the Alleywag. The nickname is inevitable, so we've embraced it. We've hired Carlson away from Internetnews.com to be our first New York-based correspondent. Not because that city has a burgeoning tech scene of its own, as News.com suggests — though it's amusing to watch local entrepreneurs posture as they fail to hide their thinly disguised Silicon Valley envy. Rather, it's because so many of the big companies we cover — Google, Yahoo, AOL, among others — are invading Gotham, and transforming Madison Avenue as they go. They'll take Manhattan, with charmingly geeky clumsiness, and Carlson, I expect, will have a grand time reporting their every misstep.