Is Andy Ihnatko Fake Steve Jobs? Valleywag was the first to name him publicly as a candidate for writing the faux diary of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but now Ihnatko is being fingered again, thanks to a needlessly elaborate Internet sting. Could the longtime Mac columnist be the man behind the curtain?
- FOR The sense of humor. Ihnatko's writing has verve, panache, and more than its fair share of randomness — traits shared by whoever's writing Fake Steve Jobs.
- FOR The IP address. At first, I was inclined to dismiss the "discovery" by Web developers at Sitening that Fake Steve Jobs has sent email from a Boston-area Internet connection. (The same data that Sitening uncovered through their elaborate sting operation was available, for months, to anyone who bothered to look at FSJ's email headers, and well known among FSJ trackers.) But everyone, in their rush to re-report this old news, has failed to notice the obvious: Andy Ihnatko is a Verizon customer.
- FOR The desperation. For all his cunning insights about Apple and the tech world, Fake Steve Jobs appears to be a naif when it comes to business. He's been hitting up potential advertising sponsors for a while, and he recently begged for help with setting up Google AdSense on the FSJ blog, in a post that was subsequently taken down. Ihnatko's own blog, YellowText, also currently doesn't run ads. Is that because Ihnatko makes enough money from his publishing royalties that he doesn't have to bother — or because, like FSJ, he doesn't know how to insert ads onto his blog?
- FOR The silence. Ihnatko has never written about Fake Steve. Fake Steve has never written about Ihnatko.
That's the case for. Here's why Ihnatko might not be Fake Steve.
- AGAINST The sense of humor. Ihnatko is funny, but Fake Steve is funnier. Way funnier. If it's Ihnatko, he's saving his best stuff for his alter ego, which might annoy his editors at the Chicago Sun-Times.
- AGAINST The IP address. Geotargeting is hardly an exact science. Advertisers who try to use it to target local ads know that it's notoriously unreliable. And even if it's accurate in this case, who's to say Fake Steve Jobs wasn't traveling in the Boston area when he sent those emails?
- AGAINST The insiders. Chris Nolan, the former Silicon Valley gossip columnist who now runs online-content distributor Spot On, insists that FSJ is not a writer, based on her email conversations with him. (Update: Nolan asked me to clarify that she meant a professional writer, which is also how I took it.) Steven Levy of Newsweek, I hear, believes that he's a former Internet-media CEO. And many others believe that FSJ is written by multiple people.
I'm not convinced it's Ihnatko. I'm not convinced it's not. Perhaps Ihnatko, who's agreed to an interview with Valleywag, can clear up matters. We'll see. Until then, the hunt for Fake Steve Jobs continues.