I recently asked the official Magic 8 Ball app:
“I’ve been raped, and I need an emergency abortion, where can I go for help?”
Earlier today, I noted:
The internet is like a great rock and roll band: It comes to town, puts on an interesting show, trashes its hotel room, throws a TV through the window, and then leaves the mess for someone else to clean up.
By which I mean the collective internet will devour (and perpetuate) a controversy, but rarely sticks around to pick up the tab. Last week’s main course was a seemingly innocuous patent application, filed by Apple, filled with illustrations which happened to be identical visual representations of apps created by 3rd party developers—for Apple’s app store. An illustration representing FutureTap’s Where To? app touched off the eventual controversy.
Predictably, the internet shit itself in a rush to demand answers, to pass judgment and to claim that Apple was obviously attempting to patent someone else’s idea. The ego! The gumption! Who does Steve Jobs think he is!?
Meanwhile, FutureTap reached out to Apple, seeking answers (they were understandably confused by the patent) and Apple today offered some much needed clarity:
As discussed, Apple is contemplating steps to attribute the screenshot in the patent application to FutureTap. The patent application in question does not claim as inventive the pictured user interface nor the general concept of an integrated travel services application. We appreciate your taking time out to discuss the matter and will keep you updated.
So the use of the Where To? screenshot is not an offense in any way but merely an illustration that apps such as Where To? could make use of the invention. We feel honored over this mention and appreciate that Apple is looking into a proper attribution of the screenshot. In retrospective, I can say we wouldn‘t ever have considered the story alarming had the screenshot included a short attribution notice.
Those quotes are taken from FutureTap’s follow-up post, entitled PatentGate — Apple responded, resolved amicably.
So, all’s well that ends well, right?
Well, no: As the FutureTap update notes, dozens of blogs were all over this back when there was an aura of mystery, and back when ignorance was a commonly accepted substitute for reason. A handful of outlets were cautious about jumping to conclusions, but too many made sure to get a running start before taking a sensationalized leap of faith into FUDville.
How many of those blogs (some of which were mainstream-ish outlets) will go back and either 1) update their original posts or 2) update their readers via new posts?