The Golden Gobblers: Biggest tech turkeys of 2010

What do Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt & National Pork Board have in common? They're all winners of Cringely's turkey awards

For the fourth year, I'm trotting out my nominations for the biggest turkeys of tech.

Last year's winners included Fox News' Glenn Beck, everyone's favorite skank gracefully aging cover model Liskula Cohen, Apple tablet fiends, and Mr. Crunchy himself, Michael Arrington. In the past I've honored such notables as rocker Axl Rose, Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang, escort-friendly AG Eliot Spitzer, and everybody's favorite capitalist-communist-tyrant-Facebook fanboy, Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao.

This year we've got another flock of flight-impaired game birds ready for plucking. Please greet the Golden Gobblers for 2010 (and pass the mashed potatoes):

Mark Zuckerberg. The world's sweatiest billionaire keeps telling us how much Facebook values its members' privacy, then proceeds to butter their personal information all over the InterWebs. Turns out that when Zuckerberg uses the word "value" he actually means "valuation" -- as in Facebook's mind-boggling $41 billion pre-IPO value, which is almost entirely dependent on its ability to slice and dice the data its members hand over for free. So yes, he absolutely values your privacy, as long as you don't try to have any.

Eric Schmidt. Because every time the Google CEO opens his mouth, he scares the children. People want Google to tell them where to go and what to do? If today's kids want to erase their Web histories they'll need to change their names? If we don't want people to know what we're doing online we probably shouldn't be doing it? "We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about." Yes, he said all that and more. Gobble gobble gobble.

Lower Merion School District officials. Did it never occur to any of these people that remotely turning on a Webcam in a teenager's bedroom might be a little beyond stupid, not to mention immoral, illegal, and just plain creepy? Shame on the geeks for not thinking, and shame on their managers for not knowing.

Judith Griggs. In the space of just a few hours, the erstwhile editress of Cooks Source magazine managed to piss off Netizens with her clueless arrogance and claims that the entire Web is in the public domain. Hope she's got her turkey ready for the oven, because her goose is already cooked.

Nick Denton. The publisher of Gawker Media (and thus Gizmodo and Valleywag) earns his Gobbler for giving checkbook journalism an even worse reputation than it already has. Paying that loser $5,000 for a lost iPhone prototype was bad enough, but buying the story of some dork's lousy one-night stand with Christine O'Donnell -- complete with far more information about the bewitched senatorial candidate's personal grooming habits than we really wanted to know -- was a new low. Classy operation you got there, Nick.

The "killers." No, not that awful movie with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl (though if you want to talk turkeys, that one's a 25-pound Butterball). No, I'm talking about any blogger who ever used the term "iPad-, iPhone-, or Google-killer" in a non-ironic context. With this many murderers on the loose, you'd think the Net was a serial killers convention.

The National Pork Board. They sent a cease-and-desist letter to Thinkgeek for using the slogan "the new white meat," which apparently was too close for comfort to the porkers' "the other white meat" catch phrase. The problem here: the "new white meat" refers to canned unicorn -- an April Fool's Day prank from the geek novelty site. The funny thing about unicorn meat? It tastes just like turkey.

Anybody still at MySpace. For adopting that lame new logo (My_____, really?), and for deciding to roll over and be Facebook's b****. These guys make even AOL look competent.

Anybody still at Yahoo. Just because.

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Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld

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