IDG's Jayson Blair Moment As Writer's Alter-Ego Exposed
Devil Mountain Software has been featured in IDG articles before, as a firm that offers performance testing based on its Exo Performance Network (XPNet). Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that one of IDG's writers, Randall Kennedy, is actually the CEO of Devil Mountain Software, although he made up an alter-ego to cover his tracks.
While that's already a source of concern for those who want performance data that is valid, truthful, and uncompromised (like HH readers), there's a secondary concern: just how valid is DMS' data?
This whole story is somewhat reminiscent of the scandal that embroiled the New York Times, with Jayson Blair, who actually made up stories, you might recall. How long did Kennedy think he could get away with it?
IDG has announced it has severed ties
with Kennedy, as of Sunday. His day job may not be going so well either, as ZDNet posted an expose
of Kennedy as well. It seems that not just Kennedy's ID, but the veracity of DMS' performance testing are at issue.
ZDNet posted a full page on how they themselves uncovered the relationship between Kennedy and Barth, and from there, went into an analysis on how the software from DMS works. DMS' two flagship products are a test suite called Office Bench and a Windows monitoring tool called the DMS Clarity Suite. In addition, InfoWorld had been offering the software for download under the Windows Sentinel label. Emphasis on had, mind you, as after the revelations about Kennedy, they pulled the software, wisely.
ZDNet's investigation discovered some potential privacy issues that could allow it to examine customer systems, and even link them to particular users. It also noted that one high-profile "client" cited by "Barth" said it has not actually installed the software.
One recent report, noted by IDG's Computerworld in an article
, asserted that 86 percent of machines using Windows 7 were regularly using up to 95 percent of their available RAM. That caused a firestorm across the Internet. It should be noted that the author of the story, Gregg Keizer, said Sunday that he had spoken with Barth "15 to 20 times since December 2007," but did not know until last week that Barth and Kennedy were the same person.
The article in question, and others quoting DMS, now have the following header:
The person quoted in this story as "Craig Barth" is actually Randall C. Kennedy, an InfoWorld contributor. Kennedy, who presented himself as the CTO of Devil Mountain Software, no longer works at InfoWorld. Given that he disguised his identity to Computerworld and a number of other publications, the credibility of Kennedy's statements is called into question. Rather than simply remove stories in which he is quoted, we have left them online so readers can weigh his data and conclusions for themselves.