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September 21, 2004

Excerpts: The Cult of Mac - Part III

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:41 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

James Coates, a technology columnist with the Chicago Tribune, received more than 500 emails after writing a story about Apple that was posted to the EvangeList. He likened the two-week flood of abusive email to a cyberlynching, an online necktie party at the hands of virtual vigilantes. The [emails] included unkind words about the moral character of my poor late mother, suggestions that I perform mechanically impossible actions with my new IBM ThinkPad laptop computer, and sadly, a few death threats, he wrote. Come to Texas, wrote one. We havent shot a tourist in a car since 1963.
Henry Norr, a former editor at MacWeek, said he would get scores of nasty, hostile email if he wrote anything critical about the Mac. Some were polite and thoughtful, he said, but in general the experience was like being besieged by zombies, some of whom were really unbalanced.
In his defense, Kawasaki frequently urged subscribers to be on their best behavior. He forbade sabotaging Windows machines and told EvangeListas to be nice and polite. As well as pointing out negative press, Kawasaki suggested readers send love notes to journalists who wrote nice things about Apple.
Kawasaki left Apple in 1998 to start Garage.com (now Garage Technology Ventures), a boot camp for entrepreneurs. He folded the list in April 1999. The final posting, signed by Kawasaki (who is and shall remain pure Macintosh), cited Apples stunning turnaround as the main reason for discontinuing the list. The original purpose of EvangeList was to counteract the negative news about Apple and Macintosh, and I believe that EvangeList has served its purposefantastically, Kawasaki wrote. So, after discussing what we should do with EvangeList with the folks at Apple, weve decided to retire the list.
Oddly, it was mourned by some of its victims. Dan Gillmor, a columnist with the San Jose Mercury News, who had been a faithful reader for many years, was sad to see EvangeList pass. Hearing from people who want to change your mind is really useful in the business of journalism, Gillmor said. I learn more from people who disagree with me than I do from those who agree. But after hearing from several hundred, you do get weary.
James Coates, the Chicago Tribune columnist, had mixed feelings about the lists passing. I did suffer the brunt of an awful lot of abuse from Guy Kawasaki and the EvangeLists, and I am even bitter about it in some ways, he said. But I learned a tremendous amount of things Macintosh there. I also made a lot of friends and things like that, so I mourn its passing.
The education of journalists had a mixed effect. The negative stories didnt stop altogether, but a lot of journalists were more careful when reporting news about Apple. This writer will never again write about an Apple-related story without a keen gun-shy appreciation that critical hordes are judging every word, Coates wrote after getting flamed.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.