Remembering Project Marklar

Nick Wingfield mentioned something which took me back a long way:

It’s well worth reading the whole thread, as much of it typifies Steve Jobs, but describing the reporting of Nick dePlume and Matthew Rothenberg at eWeek on Project Marklar as “rumours” is wrong. In 2002, they absolutely nailed the details of the nascent Intel project. I know the work that went into that story, because I talked them about it at the time.

I was tangentially involved in it. At the time, I was news editor on MacUser UK, and a year before they broke the story, Nick called me to see if I’d heard anything about Transitive, the UK-based company whose PowerPC to Intel code translation software Apple was using.

Nick and Matthew worked on that story for a good 18 months before publishing anything. It was solid, dogged reporting. Calling it “rumours” is what Apple did at the time – basically, anything Apple didn’t want you to report, they called “rumours”.

Worth remembering: Jobs was so pissed off about the Marklar story (and many others) that he made closing dePlume’s site a priority – and eventually sued it out of existence. And way too many journalists covering the Mac gave Apple a free pass about this, effectively shrugging their shoulders.

Coda: one of our reporters, the wonderful and much missed Paul Nesbitt, asked Jobs the same question in about 2004. He got barred from Apple press conferences for it. Jobs had many fine qualities, but tolerance for a free press was not one of them.

Extra coda: there were quite a few writers about the Mac at the time who insisted that “it’s a rumour until Apple announces it”. This is a great tell that a writer isn’t a reporter and doesn’t understand that by that standard, Watergate was all rumours till Nixon resigned.



Back in 2002 (or thereabouts), I started writing up my thoughts on technology at a site that I dubbed “Technovia“. About fifteen years later, after about a year’s break from blogging, I went back and found that at some point the database holding all that content had become corrupt. Thousands of posts, disappeared, and despite some pretty exhaustive investigation I’ve yet to find a way to get it back. I could probably do some snazzy SQL export and import, some kind of magic incantation, but at this point, when the site has been down for over a year, it’s just not worth it.

Which brings me here: Technovia’s successor, which I’ll be constructing over the next few weeks and months.

I actually feel like starting with a clean slate is actually appropriate. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my old posts, or feel the weight of history on me (there’s no way I could be that pretentious — my one significant contribution to “knowledge” can sit in and Wikipedia for the rest of time — but that I feel there’s a new age of technology now, and it deserves somewhere new to write about it.

Hence, here.

The aim is to write something everyday. I’m following the “500ish words” model that MG Siegler pioneered, but hopefully with a little more regularity. It’s going to be rough — think of this as first drafts — but I think that’s perfectly fine.

And I might well stray from the world of technology regularly too. There days, I’m not an active participant in the world of technology journalism. I do more management and thinking about media and business models than I do about bits and bytes. So don’t expect too much commentary on the latest tech events only.

I think it will be fun, for me. I hope it will be for you too.