Sorry Virginia, There is no Think Secret

Hi, I’m a Mac.
And I’m an Apple Lawyer.

(Later: Yes, you have
my permission
to duplicate this
bit of parody.)

[Note: This post will grow as I learn more details of what this is all about.]

This is a sad post. It’s like a “we’ve all been bad and are getting a lump-of-coal in the stocking” sad post. It’s like a “my favorite toy has just been destroyed by a bully like in the Pixar (back when it was owned by Steve Jobs) movie Toy Story” post.

It’s a post about one of my favorite websites shutting down.

First, I need to say this: I can tell you exactly the day I went from being an Apple fanboy cultist to being merely a customer. It was almost three years ago, January 5, 2005, the day I blogged the following:

“Those who know me best would suggest if the only place one could use a Mac was some small encampment in Guyana, I’d likely pack up and move. They know how much it pains me to watch the company I’ve toasted with garbage cans full of kool-aid sue a website (Think Secret) devoted to servicing the crack-addict-like need those like me have to learn every sliver of rumor we can about the future of products we not only love, but ponder and defend and take pilgrimages to worship.”

Fast-forward three years and here’s the press release posted late yesterday on Think Secret:

“PRESS RELEASE: Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, reaching an agreement that results in a positive solution for both sides. As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published. Nick Ciarelli, Think Secret’s publisher, said “I’m pleased to have reached this amicable settlement, and will now be able to move forward with my college studies and broader journalistic pursuits.”

Huh? “Positive solution for both sides”? There’s another side here. My side. (I’m speaking collectively for readers, of course.) And there’s nothing positive about this settlement for my side.

Think Secret itself is an amazing story — and I’ve already called its creator one of my heroes. It was started in 1998 by a 13-year-old middle-schooler in New Woodstock, N.Y. named Nicholas M. Ciarelli who used the clever alias Nick dePlume. Nick, despite his youth, benefitted from the nobody knows you’re a dog law of the Internet and because of his innate skills and hard work, over time became the go-to source (and conduit) for accurate inside tidbits and predictions regarding products in the Apple pipeline.

By the time Nick got sued, he was a Harvard freshman and the advertising revenues from the site were more-than-covering his tuition and iTunes purchases. (Again, I’ve already said he’s one of my heroes.)

I will now start digging through the coverage of last night’s announcement and try to figure out the rest of the story.

One thing is certain: Nick Ciarelli is to online journalism what Lebron James to the NBA. He’s already changed the game — and he’s barely started playing. Oh, and another thing is certain: this sucks.

Later (4:11 CST): Bonus links…

  • Dave Winer sends an Amen, brother on my observation that my side got nothing out of this settlement. He adds what we’re all thinking, as well: “Apple is fascist scum for shutting down Think Secret.”
  • Jon Gordon of American Public Media’s Future Tense interviewed me for his report on this story. Don’t know if any of my ramblings will make it into his story, however. If you don’t get the program (about 5 mins. each) in your market, it’s available as a podcast on their website or iTunes.
  • Jacqui Cheng of ars technica reports the EEF’s Kurt Opashi provided a somewhat bizarre silver lining quote: “I’m very happy to see that no sources were disclosed….We understand that Nick is very satisfied with the outcome of the case…We hope that Apple learns a lesson over this.” I hope EEF learns a lesson from those quotes: Get another spokesperson.
  • John Gruber of Daring Fireball (of which I’m a fan) suggests that I (he points here, at least) am “jumping to conclusions” by suggesting that Apple “somehow forced” Think Secret to cease publication. I’m trying my best to figure out how it’s jumping to a conclusion by interpreting the following quote as something else: “As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published.” There is nothing ambiguous about that statement: If it is part of a settlement, then Apple is a party to the decision to shut the site down. If the sites closure is not a part of the legal settlement, then Ciarelli needs to issue a correction.