August 2007

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A five kilometre, 2.8-metre fence will lock up sections of the [Sydney] CBD during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit next month.... Pedestrians may need identification to cross some streets.... The fence, which will sit on 1.6-tonne concrete blocks, will be set up on the gutters of large parts of the northern end of the city. Police will man pedestrian crossing points... -- Show ID to get past Great Wall of Sydney, Sydney Morning Herald

OK. Gathering a bunch of ‘world leaders’ in the one place is a huge opportunity for terrorists, and is going to require a level of security that is, at least in Sydney, unprecedented.

You know what? There are two really simple solutions to this problem.

You could hold the event in Canberra. It's the capital city of Australia, so it's not like you're bundling everyone off to Adelaide or something, but at the same time it's a much smaller city than Sydney, which makes it far easier to secure, far easier to notice if suspicious people decide to visit for the weekend, and since government is already the town's primary industry, far less of a disruption to the general populace.

Except who would trek halfway around the world to spend four days in Canberra? You'd have the first APEC where nobody showed up.

Which, really, wouldn't be a bad thing. If terrorism is such a big problem, surely the first and most obvious response is not to hold events where several dozen potential targets all gather in the same hotel? Hook up a videoconference. Send delegates and diplomats. Sure, you miss out on a photo-op or two, but what was that about having to make sacrifices to ensure our security? I guess that only applies to those of us who are going to have to show our papers at half a dozen checkpoints just for the privilege of going into the office.

Really, the residents of New South Wales are spending millions of dollars in tax money and putting up with an invasive security regime just so John Howard can get his photo taken next to George Bush (in whatever funny outfit we decide is this year's theme) a month or so before the general election.

Knowing who the author is doesn’t spoil Fake Steve any more than knowing which cast member is playing the president on Saturday Night Live. It’s the performance that counts, not the secret. -- John Gruber, Daring Fireball

I'm not so sure.

Two days ago, Fake Steve Jobs existed in a narrative vacuum. The only point of reference we had to connect him to the real world was the real Steve, and that's part of what made the character work. You couldn't see the man behind the curtain, so everything he said was naturally part of the fiction. The anonymity was part of the performance.

Today, Fake Steve is Daniel Lyons, a real man with an employer, a body of writing, and a book to sell. To me, that changes the game.

Two days ago, it didn't matter that Fake Steve was easier on Forbes than on the rest of the tech press, because Forbes' very existence was irrelevant to Fake Steve. Now you can't help but know that when he calls out a journalist, he's one guy from one magazine sniping at other guys from other magazines.

Two days ago, Fake Steve's hilariously biting commentary about Linux in China existed only in the context of Apple's status as a non-Free Software company. Now it is wrapped in the context of Lyons' own voluminous criticism of the Free Software movement and his running battles with Groklaw.

The act of observing something changes the thing being observed. The author is not dead.

I hope Lyons can continue to use the character of Fake Steve to "speak truth to power" in the tradition of satire. I hope he can stay outrageous now that people can point fingers directly back at the author. I hope Fake Steve can overcome the handicap of suddenly being a real person. It'll just be an uphill battle.

Later...

What's been really funny to watch, though, has been the apoplectic implosion of Valleywag.

Beaten to the scoop after so many wrong guesses, bested by the supposedly clueless old media, the gossip blog has been desperately flailing to find some part of the story to claim as its own. And when Fake Steve responds with a pitch perfect comeback, all Valleywag can do is retreat to primary school with "I know you are, but what am I?".