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29 April 2010 @ 02:34 pm
Are bloggers journalists?  
If you follow tech news at all, you've almost certainly heard about the raid on Jason Chen, a blogger who writes for Gizmodo, a tech site which spends a disproportionate of its time obsessing semi-religiously over the minutiae of Apple's latest releases. The short story is that some guy found an iPhone 4G prototype in a bar which one of Apple's engineers had lost. He made attempts to return it to Apple, but their customer service line ignored him, so he sold it to Gizmodo. They reported on the incident, gave details of the (pretty boring) new tech, and offered to send it back to Apple provided an official request was made. Apple, of course, was having none of it and therefore decided that, instead of acting like adults, they'd send in the cops.

The thing is, California has a "shield law" which protects journalists from revealing their sources, meaning that the raid and confiscation of Chen's property may have been illegal. Obviously, I don't purport to have any real knowledge when it comes to California's law, but this little debacle does raise interesting questions about the exact role of professional bloggers within society, particularly regarding whether or not they deserve the same legal protections as traditional journalists. To my mind, the answer's pretty simple- of course they're journalists. They may not be publishing in print, but then again neither do TV or radio journalists. Sure, in this case it's just a fairly niche site for techies, but there are plenty of blogs out there which deal with serious political issues which have widespread consequences. It's hardly unusual these days to see a story in the national press which was first broken by a blogger, and these incidents are only going to become more common.

Whatever the exact details of the Gizmodo case are, it's undeniable that blogs are playing an increasingly important part in all areas of debate, and to not afford them the same protections that traditional media enjoys would risk seriously hampering the independence and freedom of a very significant portion of the modern press.

In other news, eco-terrorists have been caught planning to bomb an IBM nanotechnology research centre. Pricks.

One of the projects IBM have been working on in the area is creating a 3D nanoscale map of planet earth using advanced lithography techniques, and doing it in under 3 minutes. Very impressive stuff.

If you happen to hate yourself, why not have a go at building a contraption which gives you an electric shock every time you think too hard? These guys did, for some reason.

And finally, want to use humour in the workplace but don't know how? Luckily, the Microsoft site has a weird page detailing proficiency levels in "a positive and constructive sense of humor".