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Douglas Adams, Infocom, and the unreleased sequel to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game - Walking on the Edge
I don't really have a plan...
Douglas Adams, Infocom, and the unreleased sequel to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game
This is fascinating.

This guy somehow got ahold of an old Infocom network drive from 1989 - which includes email correspondence between employees regarding the in-development sequel to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game. The sequel never got made, and these emails give some insight into why.

Aside from the obvious points of interest in the article, the comments themselves are fascinating. A bunch of the people quoted in the article (Michael Bywater, Marc Blank, David Lebling, Anita Sinclair, Tim Anderson, Amy Briggs, Steve Meretzky) show up with their various takes on what happened, whether this guy should have published these emails, whether he has the RIGHT to publish private emails (it's unclear where he got the drive and who might have given him permission to publish these things...), whether he should have contacted them first, etc. As a journalist, I find the discussion of whether this was proper journalism very interesting, particularly with regards to the comments discussing the changing style of journalism in the "blog age," so to speak. As a lawyer, I find the choice of Baio to publish private emails without permission to be potentially questionable. As a blogger and a person, I find the sense of entitlement of some of the commenters both fascinating and repugnant - "we want to see it, ergo we deserve to see it - consideration of others, legality of publishing, journalistic integrity, and unbiased reporting aside!" Hrm.

Thoughts on this, anyone?

Bonus! Play the original HHGTTG game!

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Trixie feels: enthralled fascinated

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revid From: revid Date: April 29th, 2008 09:03 am (UTC) (current file)
It seems to me that the author should have at least made an effort to contact the writers of the emails, if only to say "Hey, I'm writing this. You wanna comment?" It appears that only one guy was real bent out of shape about it, so it's likely the rest would have cooperated. It certainly would have gotten him Karma points, if not a better story.

Written correspondence belongs to the writer, not the recipient, so why would email be different? Has that ever been tested in court?
particle_person From: particle_person Date: April 29th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC) (current file)
Yeah, I think he should have contacted them too. That would have been both the polite thing to do, and we might have gotten a more nuanced story. On the other hand, the thing about electronic journalism is that there is a comment section, so unlike in paper journalism, the subjects can respond immediately and correct the record if need be. That's something we haven't seen before, since old fashioned letters to the editor used to not appear until the next issue, not everyone could comment even then, and half the audience would not see them anyhow.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: April 29th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC) (current file)
That is one good thing - that people can comment and "set the record straight" if things were inaccurate. Of course, the downside is that some people won't read the comments, or at least not all of them on a looong thread like this one.

I think if he's going to call himself a journalist he should be one - which means contacting sources. It doesn't mean he needs permission. If (and I'm not sure about this) he owns the rights to these letters legally, then he doesn't need permission to publish them (although he may be wandering into dangerous territory re: privacy laws). But as a journalist, at the very least you try to get first-hand accounts and/or input, talk to sources, even just get a "no comment" or whatever. That's what results in an accurate and not-one-sided story.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: April 29th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC) (current file)
Even the guy who was annoyed said he would have been glad to help if he'd been contacted first.

Well, my guess is that these emails actually belong to whoever now owns whatever's left of Infocom. It's unclear where the guy got this stuff from.
particle_person From: particle_person Date: April 29th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC) (current file)
Comments above already. Let me just add that Amy Briggs is awesome.
(Deleted comment)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: April 29th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC) (current file)
True dat.

Yeah, that's why this thread was so fascinating - a lot of discussion of whether this guy is a journalist, has responsibilities to act like a traditional one, etc.

When I was reading it, I was wondering about public disclosure of private facts (haha, I link to Wikipedia for my legal references. Oh dear). I don't think it would fly because this stuff might be considered of interest to the public or even newsworthy. On the other hand, there's "intrusion of solitude" as well as false light.

IIRC, one of the primary factors in privacy cases is whether there was an expectation of privacy - and I think they'd have a fair case that emails would have been expected to be confidential/private between the correspondents (even if it did take place over company email).
0ccam From: 0ccam Date: April 29th, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC) (current file)
I had the original HHGTTG game. I played it until I got the Babel Fish, and then ordered the T-shirt....and never actually finished the game....

I did, however, finish Leather Goddesses of Phobos....
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: April 30th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC) (current file)
Aw, the babel fish! I tried the game just for fun, and it was hard to get the sequence on that one.
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