Content/Design
Fake Steve Jobs Tells Bloggers to 'Let it Rip'

froomkinlyons.jpg
Dan Froomkin, of washingtonpost.com, and Dan Lyons, of Forbes.com, discuss "voice" in online writing. (Photo by Aaron Roberts)

Dan Lyons didn't want to know what bloggers had for breakfast, or read anyone's online diary.

So when the Forbes technology columnist started a personal blog in 2006, he did it with a twist: He wrote it as someone else.

Lyons assumed the identity of Fake Steve Jobs, a cartoonish version of the Apple CEO, for The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog. About a year and a half after the first post, the blog is part of Forbes.com and attracts more than 1 million unique visitors from around the world each month.

Lyons was inspired, he said, by stories of CEOs writing their own blogs, which were supposed to be transparent, but were often bland and filled with spin.

"My idea was 'What if the CEO really did a blog and then went off the rails?'" said Lyons, a panelist at the "Finding Your Voice Online" session at the Online News Association Conference Friday in Toronto.

The voice Lyons uses as Jobs is captured in the blog's tagline: "Dude, I invented the friggin' iPhone. Have you heard of it?"
Lyons, who published two fiction books before joining Forbes, drew readers to his blog early on through word of mouth and a mystery. Fake Steve's identity was a secret until August, when the New York Times unmasked Lyons as the author.

Lyons said he knew the blog had caught on before that, though, when a friend at a software company, who didn't know Lyons was Fake Steve, asked him if he read the blog and told him, "Fake Steve rocks!"

The posts are funny and snarky -- Fake Steve calls Bill Gates "Beastmaster" -- but grounded in the news similar to "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." They're an alternative to blah business news, which Lyons said is often preposterous because of "the doublespeak and the way some companies will announce bad news as though it's good news. Some stuff you want to call bullshit, but you can't as a straight-up reporter."

Lyons, 47, also likes the feedback he gets on the blog. Readers contribute comments and story ideas much more often than they do in his day job writing a column every other week for the magazine, he said.

His advice for people still struggling to find their own blogging voice is to "really let it rip, and forget that anyone's reading it."

Lyons' next book and first as Fake Steve, "Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs," comes out Monday.

--Raechal Leone



COMMENTS

I think Lyons was really onto something when he started up this blog. It's true that the CEO of a company would blog with an agenda, and I think that the "Fake Steve Jobs" blog is more telling than a real Steve JObs blog would be. This site is certainly not a hard-news source, but it really does offer an interesting perspective on the American corporate scene, as well as consumer.
The user profile of "Fake Steve Jobs" is hilarious. His favorite movies listed are all Pixar films- obviously, poking fun at the fact that the real Jobs is the largest Disney shareholder (and was PIxar's CEO until Disney acquired the company). I laughed out loud at the "mock turtleneck" interest, as well; come on, mock turtlenecks are just funny- and it's even funnier that the real Jobs ALWAYS wears them.
I wonder if Steve Jobs is at all peeved that he's being portrayed in such a ridiculous manner; then again, he is Steve Jobs, what does he care what the "little people" think?
At any rate, Lyons has very artfully satirized the mind of one of the most powerful men in America. It seems like he's having fun doing it, too.

October 22, 2007 02:33 PM by ashley Balogh (Permalink)


Wow Lyons is a pretty sharp guy for coming up with his own Steve Job's "voice". I checked out his site myself, and you could say that he has gained a new fan. He really stays in the Job's character quite well and gives insight into Job's that the real man couldn't give to himself in a public way.
Lyons does a great job (no pun intended) of showing how blogging lets a writer leave their own voice, embody someone elses, and create a following while also making a point without risking credibility as a writer. Kudos Dan Lyons.

October 22, 2007 03:46 PM by Sean Berard (Permalink)


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