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Big Revolution - Trust and spy chips

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Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution, coming to you from the UK, where (more so than any other day l
 
December 12 · Issue #290 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution, coming to you from the UK, where (more so than any other day lately) we’re not sure if we’ll have a prime minister by the end of the day or not.
Martin

Big things you need to know today
  • Puma has reissued its RS-Computer running shoes from 1986. Essentially the original Fitbit, they connected up to the Apple IIe or Commodore 64 to give you insights into your workouts. Only 86 pairs will be available, and yes, they now work with modern computers.
The big thought
The Big Hack. Or Not? Bloomberg Businessweek's October 8 cover.
Trust and spy chips
Remember a few weeks back, when Bloomberg said China had put secret spy chips into hardware used by Amazon and Apple, and everyone involved except Bloomberg said it was total rubbish?
Well, yesterday we got another nail in the coffin of that story as the company whose hardware was allegedly compromised says an independent audit has found no evidence of any tampering.
Supermicro’s announcement has me wondering what the hell is going on at Bloomberg.
If I was responsible – or if someone on a team I was managing was responsible – for a story that was widely regarded as untrue, I’d be doing everything I could to make sure my reputation as a trustworthy journalist stayed intact:
  1. I’d be ‘showing my working’ as much as possible. Even though this story relied on many sources that would never want to be named (for good reason), there are technical details of how this operation would have worked that could – and should – be shared and opened to scrutiny.
  2. I’d be looking for additional information to back up my story. The fact that Bloomberg and no other outlet has come up with any corroborating information at all in the past two months is a huge red flag.
  3. If I conceded that the story was in all likelihood false, and I’d been misled or mistaken in my reporting, I’d want to tell my readers as soon as possible. If I was the editor or senior management, I’d want to support the reporters behind the story as much as possible but in the end (and I repeat this mantra all the time) respect for readers is the most important thing. Without it, your publication loses credibility and value.
Holding your hands up to a mistake – even a big one – is a key part of journalism. Outlets focused on spreading misinformation will never do that, but 'real’ journalism is human, and humans make mistakes. And they should own up to them.
I remember the early days of tech blogging, when sites like Engadget fought really hard to be seen as credible, trustworthy sources of information. This meant they wore their ethics on their sleeves. To be seen as deliberately misleading would be an admission that blogs could never match up to the quality of big, established news outlets.
Nowadays, big, heritage news orgs often pick up stories from highly trusted blogs (which often aren’t blogs anymore, but major news orgs owned by venture capitalists or telecoms and media corporations). Those older news sites – Bloomberg included – seem to be relying too heavily on the inherited trust that comes with their brand, and not living up to being trustworthy, at a time when overall trust in the media is in decline.
There’s simply no scope for Bloomberg to stay quiet on what went wrong with this story.
One big read
How A Murky Row Over Russia, Jeremy Corbyn And A 'Psyops Campaign' Went Mainstream How A Murky Row Over Russia, Jeremy Corbyn And A 'Psyops Campaign' Went Mainstream
How an international conspiracy theory spiraled out of little more than a few ill-advised retweets and some apparently misunderstood lists.
One big tweet
Jack Dorsey speaks out after criticism of his recent controversial trip to Myanmar.
jack
I’m aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more.
9:59 PM - 11 Dec 2018
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with more. See you then!
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