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July 19, 2009|Mark Milian; Scott T. Sterling; David Ng


Leaked files spark furor

TechCrunch Editor Michael Arrington posted an article last week describing 310 private documents from Twitter Inc. that had been leaked to the technology blog. Arrington plans to publish them over a period of time, he wrote.

Needless to say, the idea was polarizing.

As evidenced in comments on the post and in the flurry of tweets that followed, the existence of these documents, containing information about user and financial predictions, employees' personal details, TV show pitches and plans for a future office, tickled the curiosity of many.

In addition to feeding an insatiable appetite for gossip about San Francisco's hottest Web start-up, the ordeal also carries obvious ethical implications.

An overwhelming number of readers blasted Arrington for exposing classified papers from the Internet darling, calling the leaks "a violation of privacy," "a bad move," "disappointing" and illegal. The immediate reactions incited a quick response from Arrington, who defended the ethics of his decision.

How the Twitter documents were obtained also calls cyber security into question.

It speaks to the potential dangers of storing sensitive information on "the cloud," as some of the obtained messages were stored online using Google Apps, according to a post by Twitter's Biz Stone stressing the importance of having strong passwords. He and co-founder Evan Williams could not be reached for comment. A Google spokesman said the company doesn't comment on specific user issues.

-- Mark Milian

From Technology: The business and culture of our digital lives

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Fast food gets an R&B parody

When superstar rapper Jay-Z came across the use of the suddenly controversial music program Auto-Tune in the now-infamous "Frosty Posse" TV commercial for fast-food chain Wendy's, he was supposedly moved to pen "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," declaring Auto-Tune officially over.

"They're joking on it. It's like, OK, enough of that," he mused to MTV News last month. "It was a trend. It was cool in the beginning. Some people made great music with it. Now it's time to move on."

While pundits debate both sides of the issue, one can only imagine the inevitable fallout that's probably starting right about now in the wake of the latest Taco Bell campaign, wryly titled "It's All About the Roosevelts" (in reference to the former president's mug on dimes) to promote their new value menu.

For one, producers Dr. Dre and Scott Storch could make a solid case that one of the cut's main hooks -- what sounds to be a sample of a Japanese koto -- is strikingly similar to the one that anchors the cut "Still D.R.E." from Dre's second solo album, "Chronic 2001."

But from the whispered delivery of the verses, annoyingly catchy chorus and the ridiculously over-the-top video, "It's All About the Roosevelts" sounds like Andy Samberg's the Lonely Island playing an amazing practical joke on some unwitting ad agency. Shown before film screenings and throughout the 2009 MLB All-Star Game, the song wouldn't sound out of place between Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas on pop radio.

In short, it's kind of the jam. Which also means it's sure to make someone -- most likely a recording artist or a producer -- really mad.

At least that's our hope. Anyone?

-- Scott T. Sterling

From Pop & Hiss: The L.A. Times music blog

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Christie's hunts for new clients

With art sales declining around the world, the major auction houses are desperately looking for new customers anywhere they can. So it shouldn't be a surprise that Christie's is tapping into the ever-growing universe of iPhone apps.

Christie's announced a new iPhone application that allows users to browse more than 450 auctions in close to 80 categories in such areas as fine arts, jewelry, photographs and wine.

The application offers images of items up for bid and lets users submit objects for appraisal by Christie's specialists using the iPhone's camera.

The application can display real-time auction results but doesn't yet offer the ability for users to place bids. The auction house does offer online bidding via its website.

"We hope to attract new clients but the goal is also to provide a convenient tool for current clients, should they be open to the technology," said Michael O'Neal, Christie's director of digital media.

Christie's is offering the application for free to iPhone and iPod Touch users. It can be downloaded from the iTunes store.

-- David Ng

From Culture Monster: All the arts, all the time

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