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tl;dr - Gradual seriousness.
October 19, 2012 10:58 PM   Subscribe

On Monday October 15th, XperiaBlog wrote about apparent photos of a Sony Nexus X phone found in a Picasa gallery. By the end of the day, The Verge, Gizmodo, TechCrunch and CNET had picked up the story. The next day, the hoaxer revealed how "an individual with no previous worldwide recognition save for a frontpage Reddit post, managed to alter the behavior of people in Russia, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Italy within the course of 24 hours, all from the comfort of my home while exerting next to no effort."
posted by dragoon (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
One slightly off-putting thing about this entire episode was that not a single soul made any attempts to contact the owner of the Picasa album.

Seriously?

Seriously.

Jesus.
posted by brundlefly at 11:18 PM on October 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Photoshop experts, many who have seen pixels in their day, came out of the woodwork...

I LOLLED.
posted by Jimbob at 11:29 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is awesome. In the next series, the iPhone 6 gets even smaller but is somehow better!™
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:37 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Marvelous trolling. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:38 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The over 250 hours of skilled labor that I diverted to the coverage of this “story” could have gone to more productive uses. Thousands of tech geeks the world over would have done something else with their time."

... like read or write other blog posts about other equally speculative products? The author seems to be under the illusion that people were interested in the hoax because they thought it was real, when it seems obvious that people who read and write tech blogs merely find convincing hoaxes interesting. It's not as if they would have spent their "250 hours of human capital" collecting donations for UNICEF or something.

The interesting description of hoax technique spirals into a kind of smug libertarian stew. Stop reading when you see "The Why".
posted by oulipian at 11:42 PM on October 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


The interesting description of hoax technique spirals into a kind of smug libertarian stew.

No kidding. "What fools they all are to not have my humble certainty that the purity of an unrestrained market would achieve a better outcome every time!"
posted by XMLicious at 11:48 PM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


skilled labor

Snerk
posted by edgeways at 11:53 PM on October 19, 2012


Marvelous trolling. :)

Product rumors and leaks are normal, it's part of the organism of tech journalism. This was an intentional bad faith leak planted to use the organism's mechanisms against itself. Not enough to kill the organism or even hurt it, but shows perhaps immune system deficiencies. Like a bacterial infection, a 24hr flu. Presumably we hope the organism will now be (more) immune from this in the future, stronger for it.
posted by stbalbach at 12:00 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread where I grumble about there not being a decent GSM QWERTY Android phone available at present? My SO will have to buy another Torch if this situation is not rectified soon.
posted by wierdo at 12:17 AM on October 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Presumably we hope the organism will now be (more) immune from this in the future, stronger for it.

You're assuming the organism is something we want to survive.
posted by Jimbob at 12:17 AM on October 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I didn't click on the tumbler link because I really did expect it would lead to an inane train of assumptions that ends with "and this is why Wikipedia is bad"; which is why I was happy to learn that there is now a nice term to describe what I have been actively avoiding.

"Smug libertarian stew" is right. I have been trying to think of my own term to describe the "smugstew" and I was probably trying too hard by looking for a quality in the words to evoke 'dogshit that you step on with your brain by reading it". "Smugstew" I have to say is fairer than what I had in mind and fairly accurate. Thanks oulipian.
posted by vicx at 3:05 AM on October 20, 2012


Presumably we hope the organism will now be (more) immune from this in the future, stronger for it.

This metaphor doesn't work until we have antibacterial operatives scouring the world for hoaxers, looking to eliminate them from the body journalistic. Which might not be the worst idea ever, now that I think of it....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:13 AM on October 20, 2012


Not enough to kill the organism or even hurt it

I think it possibly nourished it. It doesn't live off truth so much as attention.
posted by Segundus at 3:46 AM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


oulipian: "The author seems to be under the illusion that people were interested in the hoax because they thought it was real, when it seems obvious that people who read and write tech blogs merely find convincing hoaxes interesting."

Could you offer some examples of tech bloggers who wrote about how they thought this was an interesting hoax? Because, from what I've seen on various tech blogs, when leaked phone photos are released, the critical thinking section of most tech bloggers' brains shuts down and every post is a breathless announcement of what to expect next.

And I don't think it's fair to call the stuff after "The Why" a smug Libertarian stew. Rather, it pretty well points out the vacuous blandness and idiocy of most tech bloggers.

I'm absolutely willing to be shown how I'm wrong in both these points, but I'm just not seeing how your comment meshes with reality, right now.
posted by barnacles at 4:04 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, you can't do "is this the new iPhone?" for at least another six months. You have to do something.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:22 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sony phones are butt ugly anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:38 AM on October 20, 2012


The tech blogs got the clicks they wanted out of the deal, I don't think they really care if they lost a little credibility.
posted by octothorpe at 5:42 AM on October 20, 2012


I found the method of faking it quite interesting. Have many previous hoaxes been executed by 3D modelling the device? It was interesting how nobody, even the Android Police teardown, commented on the fact it might have been a 3D rendering rather than a photoshop. A 3D rendering will be by definition geometrically sound and have the shadows in the right place - spotting it is a completely different process than spotting a photoshop.
posted by leo_r at 5:45 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have been trying to think of my own term to describe the "smugstew"

It's called 'the Reddit voice.' This guy also seems to be under the impression that a front page Reddit post counts as 'worldwide recognition.'

I . . . managed to alter the behavior of people in Russia, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Italy within the course of 24 hours, all from the comfort of my home while exerting next to no effort.

This happens every time I make a comment on Metafilter.

Imagine what kind of terrible damage one can do by artificially diverting resources from one sector of the economy to another through legislative fiat?

This is the worst part of the post. He seems to think that by doing what he did he was 'artificially tampering with the economy,' when really the slew of bad tech journalism was the economy doing its thing. He says that if he had not made the post that 'over 250 hours of skilled labor that I diverted to the coverage of this “story” could have gone to more productive uses,' but in a healthy economy not every hour of labor goes toward producing something worthwhile. Those hours probably would have gone toward something equally pointless or worse.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:10 AM on October 20, 2012


"I can tell by the raytracing, and from seeing a lot of renders in my time."
posted by ShutterBun at 6:12 AM on October 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


A 3D rendering will be by definition geometrically sound and have the shadows in the right place

This is not strictly true for a number of reasons. For one thing, he was applying a photo of his desktop as a "skin" onto the model desktop plane. To do this correctly (perspective-wise) he would want to take a picture from directly overhead. But then the shadows would be all wrong, once he rendered it from an oblique angle.

To truly have all the geometry and shadows be "sound", he would have had to recreate the entire desktop in 3D, which would take many more hours.

He did it the easy way, but by no means was this a "slam dunk" approach. He was able to avoid the pitfalls of compositing, but only thanks to a ton of perspective trickery in the 3D realm.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:21 AM on October 20, 2012


Is this the thread where I grumble about there not being a decent GSM QWERTY Android phone available at present? My SO will have to buy another Torch if this situation is not rectified soon.

Dude. Droid 3. IT IS AMAZING.
posted by 256 at 6:21 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


(to make a comparison of my point: you know those sidewalk chalk drawings that look like a 3D scene of a giant chasm in the middle of the street, but only look "correct" from one specific angle? Same thing here, except that he has to model the plane correctly, instead of the overlaid image.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:25 AM on October 20, 2012


And I don't think it's fair to call the stuff after "The Why" a smug Libertarian stew. Rather, it pretty well points out the vacuous blandness and idiocy of most tech bloggers.

You don't need to write paragraphs about the Economy of Man in order to make a point that a lie travels half way around the world before the truth has put its pants on. The audience that reads this tumblr have been around the internet a couple of times and are probably all tech savvy. Yet this hoax maker seems to write to them like it's their first time on the Internet and they've never seen a hoax before. Heck, I'm surprised that the hoax maker didn't write that he was actually a Nigerian prince that absolutely needs their help and will totally make it worth their while.

I actually think he didn't know how to end it. The last couple of sentences are a train wreck:

"A committee of the brightest economic minds in the history of the world could never have predicted the Internet, Facebook, the rise of the mobile app ecosystem, or Bieber Fever. Yeah, all of this from a stupid hoax
."

Is he saying that the Internet, FB, mobile apps, and Bieber Fever are all from a stupid hoax? It just goes to show how FAR he's jumped off the original topic when I had to re-read that part a couple of times to finally realize he's back to talking about the fake phone.
posted by FJT at 6:54 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Breathless blog posts about leaked phone photos are the tech media equivalent of those stories about a Jesus appearing on a jar of Marmite, or an image of the virgin Mary appearing in shower curtain mold. The media reports on them not because they believe they are real. They report on them because the phenomenon itself (of phone hoaxes or of simulacra) is an interesting and amusing one.

In any case, it's win-win for the press. If it's real, it's a miracle (or a new phone). If it's fake, it's a story about why someone would come up with such an elaborate hoax. The loss of credibility is negligible, because everyone who reads the stories is already playing along.
posted by oulipian at 9:05 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"It was interesting how nobody, even the Android Police teardown, commented on the fact it might have been a 3D rendering rather than a photoshop."

That's because "Photoshop" has become a generic term for "Fake picture." Although not technically correct, I think when people say Photoshop they mean it's not real without getting into the specifics of how it was produced, because they don't really know the specifics of image creation.

Also, I disagree that you couldn't do a fake as good as this in PS. I see it in the Ad World all the time, (I'm an Illustrator/Art Director) but it takes a really high level of skill. Hell, I've seen people do it in Illustrator, but somebody trying to punk Gizmodo isn't going to be doing THAT in a free afternoon.
posted by Mcable at 9:26 AM on October 20, 2012


I agree that he blows his conclusions out of proportions at the end. At the same time I admire his dedication and time spent on what I would think was a fun project regardless of the purpose.

I hate to sound "I did it before it was cool" but I've never read those knee-jerk tech blogs and doubt any person with a real passion for this technology does. It's sort of like reading tabloids or fantasy novels.

Maybe it's like gambling and even smart people who aren't suckers do it for the thrill?
posted by hellslinger at 9:35 AM on October 20, 2012


(Hint: Photoshop was not used)

...

Applications used:
Adobe Photoshop CS5


What... I don't... *head hurt*
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This happens every time I make a comment on Metafilter.

This program posts news to thousands of machines throughout the entire civilized world. Your message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere. Please be sure you know what you are doing. Are you absolutely sure that you want to do this? [Yn]
posted by hattifattener at 11:55 AM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not enough to kill the organism or even hurt it.

I think it possibly nourished it. It doesn't live off truth so much as attention.


That's what's wrong with a lot of current journalism. Attention used to be a by-product of good reporting. Journalists have mutated to eat the citrate.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:03 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This makes a nice complement to the iPhone screw hoax back in August.
posted by euphorb at 12:30 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"X has mutated to eat the citrate" should really be a business metaphor/buzzword somewhere.
posted by hattifattener at 12:31 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"X has mutated to eat the citrate" should really be a business metaphor/buzzword somewhere.

It is. Here. From now on.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:22 AM on October 21, 2012


In real news: Music Explorer is live. I think it's pretty spiffy.
posted by wierdo at 1:42 PM on November 3, 2012


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