Thursday, March 29, 2007


Kathy Sierra and Ethics

Kathy Sierra has managed to get folks convicted in the court of public opinion...

Originally, I came out in support but this was an emotional reaction. Over time, when applying logic, I realized that the tactic of convicting folks in the court of public opinion is simply evil. If someone broke the law, then she had every opportunity to have evidence presented to law enforcement and allow them to do a proper investigation but instead she chose to not exercise her right to remain silent and turned it into an opportunity for self-promotion.

Several years ago, I was accused of something that I didn't do. At the time, I felt that remaining silent was the best option as I felt the issue would quickly blow over. Of course, the lunatic fringe told others that my lack of response was an admission of guilt. When I did comment, it then morphed into a psychotic response from others which only fueled the flame. When I took steps to make sure that the right thing happened, the court of public opinion then pontificated like wild savages that I was attempting to cover my tracks. In these situations, one can never win even if they aren't guilty.

There are hundreds of IT security professionals who have knowledge in terms of forensics. Would all parties agree to having them look and posting the results publicly? Tracing via IP address as I hope Kathy knows isn't accurate as folks could communicate through anonymous services such as Anonymizer. In terms of email, you could use services that are mixmasters to be anonymous or to even forge headers. In cyberspace it is very easy to become someone else and very difficult at times to prove that you aren't really you.

Anyway, in terms of my own experience, the one observation though is that I did notice increased traffic for my book and sales increased which does prove out the theory that all publicity is good publicity. It would not surprise me to see Kathy Sierra's book sales increase by her actions and that this is just one form of publicity. For me, so as to not be accused of the same thing, I made it public that I would donate 100% of all future royalties on the affected book to worthy charities. Besides, my ethics said that the merits of the book itself should stand on its own and that I shouldn't benefit from outside forces.

I suspect though that Kathy will not consider an equivalent noble act and will milk this event for what it is worth. Honestly, maybe my own opinion is yet another example of me accusing her of something that I am practicing but I am willing to eat my words if she publicly donates all future royalties to a worthy charity and I will even match it dollar for dollar...

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