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r3v.com

Accuracy Is Important

r3v

Verity. It's not just for pedants any more.

Yesterday, I got into a small difference of opinion with Tim Buckley via Twitter. He draws the popular web comic Ctrl+Alt+Del. I've been reading Tim's comics for years and they're pretty enjoyable. Usually his work is about the shenanigans of his characters, video game jokes or some such similar fodder.

CAD20100611.jpgOn Friday, he posted a comic about the AT&T security breach in which hackers obtained the email addresses & ICC-IDs of a ton of iPad 3G owners. Click the comic to go to the CAD site and read it full sized. 

This is, of course, an analogy to the BP oil spill in the Gulf. The comic has what I feel to be a pretty egregious error in it though. The pipe that's leaking emails is labelled Apple. This is highly misleading and implies the blame belongs to Apple.

I decided to point that out to him via Twitter. He wasn't very receptive to my commentary, but not because he disagreed about my point necessarily. It seems that he just disagreed whether or not it mattered.

Here's the conversation...

@r3v: @timcad That pipeline in today's CAD should say "AT&T" you know...

@TimCAD: @r3v Not really. Their vulnerabilities caused the leak to happen, but the leaked emails were still iPad owners, not general AT&T customers

@r3v: @TimCAD That's a strange conclusion. AT&T is what leaked, not Apple or the iPad. In this scenario, if the data is the oil, AT&T is BP.

@TimCAD: @r3v You're mistaken. iPad owner account emails are what leaked. The cause of the leak is irrelevant to the image.

@r3v: @TimCAD Right... the iPad owner account emails are what leaked. The oil. AT&T is the pipe they leaked from.

@TimCAD: @r3v The pipe is just a pipe... it carries oil (or in this case, email addresses). Who the pipe belongs to is still not relevant to the joke

@TimCAD: @r3v It's what's in the pipe that matters and that's what is displayed in the comic.

@r3v: @TimCAD I get your joke. But it's also commentary, even if inadvertent, which is why I wish your analogy was accurate.

The conversation stopped there. Possibly because, like myself, he had figured out that we weren't going to convince each other of anything or he got bored. Who knows. It's pretty clear we weren't getting anywhere, though.

So, while I have an obvious bias towards Apple and prefer not to see it get undeserved bad press (hey, there's times we deserve it), it's the conversation that I find interesting. He said, "[i]t's what's in the pipe that matters and that's what is displayed in the comic." But the pipe itself is also displayed in the comic, and it's clearly labelled... and it's clearly labelled incorrectly.

I think it's interesting that he didn't care that he had something blatantly wrong because it wasn't the point, or joke, he was trying to make. Even intended as humor, the comic is commentary, and it's inaccuracy turns it from a joke to a lie. That kind of thing bums me out.

Accuracy is important.