The 10 dumbest tech moves of 2009

What do Microsoft, Google, Amazon and AT&T have in common? They're all winners of awards for bringing low comedy to high tech

It's that time of year again -- time to look back and offer my 2009 awards for the most malicious, obnoxious, offensive, or nonsensical behavior in technology. The 10 winners this year include some of the best-known companies on the planet, as well as some obscure but worthy candidates.

This year's Moonie awards come with a special commemorative statuette depicting Steve Ballmer and Carol Bartz making the search engine with two backs.

Without further ado, here are the 2009 winners. I can't imagine a more deserving bunch.

1. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength award:

Goes to Jeff Bezos and the crew at Amazon, after they reached out and deleted copies of "1984" and "Animal Farm" from customers' Kindles. Apparently, they also deleted the entry for "irony" from the Kindle's built-in dictionary.

2. The "I'm not a laywer, I just play one on TV" award: Goes to Charles Nesson, a Harvard Law professor who advised his client, admitted file swapper Joel Tenenbaum, to admit he swapped files on the stand -- whereupon the judge declared him guilty, ultimately costing Joel $675,000 in damages. We really liked the bit where Nesson crumbled up styrofoam to show how MP3 files get broken into bits and distributed across the Net. We hear he'd have used paper and scissors, only he's not allowed to handle sharp instruments.

3. Surest sign the apocalypse is upon us (No. 27 in a series) award:

Goes to Hollywood production companies Revielle and Brillstein Entertainment, which came up with an idea for a reality TV series based on Twitter. Because this is apparently what reality TV really needs: updates about people's cats.

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Robert X. Cringely

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