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8/6/2007
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Fake Steve Jobs Unmasked

Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine and the writer of the Fake Steve Jobs blog, said he expected to be exposed months ago.

After 14 months of baiting Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the rest of the Internet tech community with barbed blog posts, the anonymous writer behind "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" has been identified.

Yesterday, New York Times reporter Brad Stone named Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine, as the "Fake Steve."

"I'm stunned that it's taken this long," Lyons told a New York Times reporter. "I have not been that good at keeping it a secret. I've been sort of waiting for this call for months."

As Lyons notes on his personal blog, he was "the author, last fall, of the much-maligned Forbes cover article, "Attack of the Blogs." It was maligned because it described Web logs as "the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective."

Anil Dash, VP of professional products for blogging software company Six Apart and a longtime blogger, was interviewed for that Forbes November 2005 article. He is among several online commentators who see irony in Lyons' success.

"My initial temptation was to mark Lyons as a hypocrite," said Dash in a blog post. "Upon reflection, it seems there's a more profound lesson: The benefits of blogging for one's career or business are so profound that they were even able to persuade a dedicated detractor."

That's a lesson Lyons' employer appears to have learned well: Forbes said it would begin hosting Lyons' satire of Jobs on Monday.

"From Jonathan Swift to Jon Stewart, satire has spoken truth to power as well as amused," said Forbes.com Editor Paul Maidment in an article trumpeting Forbes' embrace of fake news. "Fake Steve Jobs will add a different voice to Forbes.com, but one that is in the Forbes tradition for both."

That may be stretching it a bit. Forbes is rarely mentioned in the same breath as The Onion and other sources of satire. But the fact the an icon of old media claims kinship with a form of humor that has given us headlines like "Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can't Index" suggests Dash hit the nail on the head: blogging is good for business.

Illustrating that very point, David Churbuck, VP of Global Web Marketing at Lenovo and the founder of Forbes' Web site several years ago, estimates on his blog that Lyon's year-long joke at the expense of the real Steve Jobs is worth $250,000 annually in online ad revenue.

To hear Chubuck tell it, blogging has shifted the power from publishers to authors, on the premise that the best writers will rise to the top and profit handsomely. "As the printing press goes free, as the difference between one page and another is utterly fungible and distinguished only by the contents of the page, then the power and the profit shifts to the creator and away from the administrator and the salesman," explains Churbuck "This is the true important impact of the publishing 2.0 revolution -- not the mashups, not the attitude, not the user participation."

For the lucky and talented few, perhaps. Meanwhile, at YearlyKos Convention for bloggers in Chicago, some online scribes are mulling the merits of a union to improve wages, working conditions and benefits.

The benefits of blogging are profound indeed.

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