iPad Bans: Misinformation from Media Old and New

We need traditional media, we are told from time to time, because all blogs do is regurgitate each other’s ramblings while newspapers report real news. I’m a fan of newspapers–I actually get three dead-tree editions delivered daily–but it ain’t necessarily so. The old media can recirculate bad info every bit as badly as the blogs.

A case in point is a meme making its way around the web about how some universities are, for reasons never quite specified, banning iPads from their campuses. This one seems to have started with a mostly correct April 6 Wall Street Journal online article about assorted difficulties that iPads were encountering on various university networks. The story noted that iPads  can’t manage some security feature’s of George Washington University’s network,  that Princeton had blocked some iPads from its network, and that Cornell was worried about the data demands of iPads overwhelming its network.

As the story made the rounds, problems became outright bans. The Christian Science Monitor reported on April 20 that Princeton had banned iPads. And BusinessWeek reports in its current issue: “Princeton University won’t allow its students to use the device on campus Wi-Fi networks because of data security worries.” Of course, dozens of blogs added to the noise.

The problem is that none of this is true. The Princeton story emerged first. The university’s network administrators started having problems with iPads when they first appeared on campus and the difficulty was traced to a disruptive interactions between the iPad and the system that assigns internet addresses to wireless devices. The Office of Information Technology has published and regularly updated detailed information on the status of the problem. At no time did Princeton ever ban iPads, though it has blocked misbehaving units from its network and warned students for a time that they were likely to have problems.

The Cornell situation is more clearcut. ““We have researched the issue and have found no negative impact at Cornell at this time,” the Cornell Daily Sun quoted university IT director Dave Vernon as saying. There is not and never has been a ban, and iPads are sold in the Cornell bookstore.

At George Washington, iPad-toting students do have a real problem, though they are not faced with any sort of ban. “The University has not banned the iPad,” its web site declares. The difficulty is that the GW wireless network requires software–apparently a virtual private networking client, though the web site is not explicit–that does not exist for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. No software, no access. The university says it hopes to have iPad connectivity available this summer.

In both the Princeton and GW cases, correct information was readily available on the universities’ web site. In the case of Cornell, there was no statement because there actually was no issue. The fact that there has been massive misinformation on the subject reflects the sorry fact that traditional media reporters and bloggers alike are far too ready to repeat each other without doing some basic reporting.

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41 Responses to “iPad Bans: Misinformation from Media Old and New”

  1. Marcy Dockery Says:

    Steve,

    How do I reach you these days? Could you email me at marcydockery@gmail.com?

    Thanks,

    Marcy

  2. David Enock Says:

    Hi Steve Wildstrom, In reference to the media reporting until you clarified things..there is a saying in advertising that 85% of all advertising is shit…but then again 85% of everything is shit.

    Thanks for your article. David Enock

  3. Dennis McCool Says:

    Excellent article. Thank you for clarifying the confusion and enlightening the masses. Hopefully your article will be “mass circulation”.

  4. Jan K Says:

    See http://www.worldcorrespondents.com/latest-on-ipad-banned-from-israel-and-2-american-universities/883578#respond

    for one of the many incorrect reports from 4/21, followed by a response which attempted to correct some of the errors.

    Obviously it was easier for most of the media to run with the story than to check their facts.

  5. anita314 Says:

    very informative. Thanks for clarification

  6. Tutto il contrario. L’iPad a pieni voti nei campus USA | setteB.IT Says:

    [...] scrive sul suo blog Steve Wildstrom, un articolo che sarebbe stato ignorato se l’ufficio stampa di Apple, come ci spiega Philip [...]

  7. Roger Says:

    Aren’t most of these problems arising because these campuses are using antiquated software that does not support iPv6, because they are using older software that only support iPv4?

    • swildstrom Says:

      No. The iPad, like the iPhone, is an IPv4 device. The Princeton IT department report is the most thorough explanation.

    • Robert Says:

      I would not say IPv4 is antiquated. It is still functional and there has not been much that I have seen to entice people to switch. How many of the popular devices you see on the market use that standard?

      It can be very expensive and hard to switch over as well, corporations and distributed computing groups will have to determine when and how they will switch.

    • Steve W Says:

      @swildstrom and Robert

      I think Roger is suggesting that IPv6 may solve the reported source of Princeton’s problem. According to the original report, Princeton uses DHCP to share too few addresses among too many devices; and because of one of Apple’s power conserving tactics, the iPad doesn’t keep validating it’s client status.

      So the question is not “Is IPv4 antiquated?”, the question is: “Is it time for IPv6 at Princeton?” considering that the number of devices on campus is only going to explode in the fall.

      The question for other campus environments should be, “How much time do we have until this becomes a problem for us?”

  8. Barry Burnett Says:

    First of all, the newspaper is not “real news”, it is actually news that is “twisted and bent”. last but not least…. this is all bullshit

  9. Geoff Says:

    I’m going to be a bit of hyperbolic for a moment and say, “If you don’t know anything and can’t do anything you become a journalist.”

    Having overstated the point, I will say that there are good journalists and the WSJ is far better than any other news publication I’ve read, with the possible exception of the Economist. However, it seems to me that anytime I read a story of which I actually have some firsthand knowledge, almost always there are some glaring errors–egregious enough in many circumstances that the whole tone of the article is adversely affected, leading to erroneous conclusions by readers without without such knowledge. Frankly, as a group, I don’t have a lot of respect for journalists.

    The author is wise to get at least three newspapers–not relying on any one, or a few, sources is the only way readers have a chance to cut through the ignorance.

    • Steve W Says:

      That is one more reason why I believe the iPad will kill – and not save -newspapers and magazines!

      Magazines are to articles like record albums are to singles. I believe the iPad will do to magazines what the iPod did to record albums.

      The magazine can perform one function that the record album does not. It can provide a brand identity to the enclosed articles – whereas most record albums feature only one group of artists; magazines are typically compilations of various authors. The problem is, what readers seek in a magazine “brand” is either quality, thoroughness, topicality, truthfulness, or some combination of these. A magazine stamps its brand on the enclosed articles via its editorial policy and staff. Competing against bloggers is – in most cases – a race to the bottom that is destroying the reputations of many magazines. I wonder how many of them will figure this out before they disappear?

  10. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | Tech News Ninja Says:

    [...] banning iPads. Fortunately for students, they aren’t true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what [...]

  11. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad Says:

    [...] banning iPads. Fortunately for students, they aren't true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what happened. Princeton's Office of Information Technology noticed that some iPads [...]

  12. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | oQlz Blog Says:

    [...] league schools banning iPads. Unfortunately, they aren't true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what happened. Princeton's Office of Information Technology noticed that some iPads [...]

  13. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | Techne.ws Says:

    [...] league schools banning iPads. Unfortunately, they aren't true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what happened. Princeton's Office of Information Technology noticed that some iPads [...]

  14. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | Apple latest news Says:

    [...] banning iPads. Fortunately for students, they aren't true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what happened. Princeton's Office of Information Technology noticed that some iPads [...]

  15. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | Ipadbay Says:

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  17. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad - A Collection of Latest Happening in Technology Field Says:

    [...] banning iPads. Fortunately for students, they aren’t true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what [...]

  18. Edward C Weber Says:

    Thank you, not just for correcting misinformation about this particular iPad issue, but for the more general point of being skeptical about “news” or whatever one sees in print or “on the internet.”

  19. brett Says:

    your gw link is broken

  20. Roger Says:

    “No. The iPad, like the iPhone, is an IPv4 device. The Princeton IT department report is the most thorough explanation.”

    I guess my next question would be why Princeton and other colleges are having problems with the iPad’s DHCP support, whereas other campuses across the country are not having problems. This is from a bulletin from the U. of Michigan, reporting on the problems that Princeton has reported: “Other colleges and universities have expressed concern about Apple’s DHCP iPad implementation. The design of MWireless and UM Wireless Network has minimized these issues on campus.”

    How has Michigan (and many, many other campus IT department) minimized the problem?

    • Bill Says:

      If they have a bigger supply of IPv4 addresses to hand out relative to the number of devices using them, the iPad holding on to them longer may not be such an issue.

  21. iPad news, bans, and misinformation - Phlog Says:

    [...] this rumor-spreading comes to us from former BusinessWeek tech columnist Steve Wildstrom. In this blog post, Wildstrom explores how the supposed campus bans on iPads are in fact nonexistent. Despite some [...]

  22. Top Posts — WordPress.com Says:

    [...] iPad Bans: Misinformation from Media Old and New We need traditional media, we are told from time to time, because all blogs do is regurgitate each other’s [...] [...]

  23. Rajeev Upadhyay Says:

    I read about ipad. it is not that good that was perceived to be. it is good but have limitations as well which some times let it down. although as a whole it is quite good.

  24. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad « Apple « Apple News Fan Page Says:

    [...] banning iPads. Fortunately for students, they aren’t true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom which explains what [...]

  25. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad « Says:

    [...] banning iPads. Fortunately for students, they aren’t true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what [...]

  26. Anyone See Any Green Shoots Recently? « Out Of My Mind Says:

    [...] source doesn’t matter, whether it’s newspaper, TV or blog. Crap reporting from whatever source is crap. You know; it’s the message, not the medium and no, when it comes to reportage, the medium is [...]

  27. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | iPad World Says:

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  28. The campus iPad ban that wasn't | Mobile Press Says:

    [...] If you want to know what really happened — and how the disinformation spread — read Wildstrom's report here. [...]

  29. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | Mobile Press Says:

    [...] banning iPads. Fortunately for students, they aren’t true. Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out an article by Steve Wildstrom that explains what [...]

  30. Princeton, Cornell, George Washington University and the iPad | ipad Planet Says:

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  31. Universidade de Princeton e outras prestam esclarecimentos sobre problemas com iPads, mas não pretendem bani-los | MacMagazine Says:

    [...] de iPads em universidades, Steve Wildstrom veio a público prestar alguns esclarecimentos e encerrar a onda de especulações sobre o tema. No que diz respeito a Princeton, nenhum iPad está sendo arbitrariamente banido da universidade, [...]

  32. Enlaces sobre el iPad Says:

    [...] iPad Bans: Misinformation from Media Old and New « Steve Wildstrom on Tech Se dijo que algunas universidad americanas habían prohibido el iPad. Resulta que no era del todo cierto. [...]

  33. link2mobile Says:

    Someone who say that The iPad in general is dumb. There are better, cheaper things available if you need somethign in between smart phone and a laptop.

  34. Remember the college iPad ban? Yeah, not so much | Tech 2 Up Says:

    [...] Steve writes: As the story made the rounds, problems became outright bans. The Christian Science Monitor reported on April 20 that Princeton had banned iPads. And BusinessWeek reports in its current issue: “Princeton University won’t allow its students to use the device on campus Wi-Fi networks because of data security worries.” Of course, dozens of blogs added to the noise. [...]

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