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Top tech turkeys of 2009

ErrorBefore settling down to his Thanksgiving feast, Robert X Cringely gives a stateside view of the individuals who acted most like turkeys over the past 11 months.

Here are eight public figures from 2009 who really need to get stuffed.

Apple Tableteers. The flying car is more real than this mythical object of fascination. It's certainly not Apple's fault. No, it's the members of the breathless Apple-tablet-obsessed blogosphere (you know who you are) who deserve this accolade for stoking a few sparks into a raging inferno of dubious information. We may yet see an Apple tablet, but I for one have long stopped caring.

Cem Kinay. Who he? A resort developer who attempted to squash the tiny TCI Journal, a volunteer-based news site that had the temerity to report Kinay was accused of bribery. Ultimately, Kinay's attempts to suppress knowledge of his part in the scandal came to nought.

Glenn Beck. Beck has a massive, and massively loyal, audience in the US, so this may not be a popular choice. But the right-wing radio presenter's shameless scare-mongering about some secret government plan to "own" computers was beyond ludicrous.

Liskula Cohen and Rosemary Port. This was an ugly case. Cohen earns the Gobbler for pursuing a very public lawsuit when a quiet nastygram would have done what she allegedly wanted: taking down Port's anonymous 'Skanks in NYC' blog. Port, meanwhile, gets the nod for using the blogosphere in an attempt to destroy Cohen's reputation - and ended up destroying the notion that blogging can be an anonymous pastime.

Charles Neeson. This Harvard Law professor set out to establish the unconstitutionality of the RIAA's Gestapo-like copyright enforcement tactics. But his defence of file-swapper Joel Tenenbaum was so downright weird - including crumbling up styrofoam to show the jury how songs get broken into bits and distributed across the internet - that you had to wonder if he was lighting up during the recess (and I'm not talking about tobacco). Joel lost, and so did everyone else who wanted to see the RIAA bullies taught a lesson.

Henry McMaster. The South Carolina attorney general threatened Craigslist with a lawsuit over its 'escort service' adverts. Then Craigslist fired back with a list of all the other places you could find escorts in the Palmetto State that McMaster was conveniently ignoring. Craigslist changed the name of its ad category from 'Erotic Services' to 'Adult Services', McMaster dropped the threats and proclaimed victory. Have we mentioned he's now hoping to move into the governor's mansion?

And finally, my Turkey of the Year:

Michael Arrington. There are so many reasons why Captain Crunch deserves this honour - from his shameless rumour-mongering (remember "Apple buying Twitter"?) to his ethical pretensions (lecturing The New York Times, no less, yet himself publicising confidential Twitter documents obtained from a hacker) to his blind insistence on products everyone but he and his mysterious sources claim do not exist (see Phone, Google).

But he's mostly on here for the CrunchPad, the über-web tablet that would be king. It remains an extremely promising device - in the sense that Arrington keeps promising to deliver it. Maybe he'll manage to get it out before Thanksgiving 2010.

That's the way the year has looked this side of the pond. Who do you think are the biggest turkeys of 2009?

InfoWorld

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