Twitter, World War II and the death of official secrets

The government’s attempt to keep the president’s trip to Afghanistan a secret was foiled by Twitter — in the same week that the Associated Press apologized to the reporter it fired 67 years ago for breaking the embargo on the end of World War II.

The Forbidden Apple: NY Times Reports on Company Secrecy

The New York Times has a feature article on Apple (s aapl) corporate culture and secrecy that is both fascinating and a little disturbing. It also may raise questions about how Apple handled the disclosure of Steve Jobs’ illness.

Regarding corporate culture, the New York Times illustrates just how secretive Apple can be, describing multiple checkpoints for those working on top-secret projects, and security that doesn’t end at the cubicle, either.

Work spaces are typically monitored by security cameras, this employee said. Some Apple workers in the most critical product-testing rooms must cover up devices with black cloaks when they are working on them, and turn on a red warning light when devices are unmasked so that everyone knows to be extra-careful, he said.

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Apple Loosening Muzzles?

One of the inaugural stories on just-launched news site The Daily Beast is a column by the founder and former editor of Mac news and rumors site Think Secret, Nicholas Ciarelli.  The article suggests that Apple is relaxing its notoriously strict veil of secrecy.  Think Secret was shuttered in 2007 because of a suit brought by Apple following Ciarelli’s decision not to remove details of the Mac Mini published before its release.

Ciarelli points to the many recent instances of early product leaks from other rumor sites which have not resulted in site closures or suits.  The following is from an interview conducted for the article:

“There’s no doubt that Apple has changed,” Jeremy Horwitz, editor in chief of iLounge, told me in an email. “Probably due to the awful PR its prior lawsuits generated, and because cease-and-desist letters only confirm leaks, Apple has wisely stopped going after the people who generate its ‘buzz.'”

Apple has not only become more mellow with product leaks.  The recent lifting of the restrictive NDA is yet more proof that Jobs and company are beginning to see that with rapid growth comes a necessary relaxing of control.  It was far easier to maintain a culture of silence when Mac users were a much smaller and less vocal group.  Increased sales, attention from the mainstream press, and the heightened degree of credibility accorded tech news and review websites and blogs have combined to create a consumer environment antithetical to secretive Apple corporate practice.

So what are the next steps?  More cooperation with companies and organizations like DisplayLink, and OpenClip seeking to develop utilities Mac users are hungry for but Apple seems unwilling to provide?  Let’s hope that a more open and communicative Cupertino is in fact on the horizon.