The separation between private and public life in new media
From an anonymous source close to the company, I've found myself in possession of the "Infocom Drive" — a complete backup of Infocom's shared network drive from 1989. This is one of the most amazing archives I've ever seen, a treasure chest documenting the rise and fall of the legendary interactive fiction game company. Among the assets included: design documents, email archives, employee phone numbers, sales figures, internal meeting notes, corporate newsletters, and the source code and game files for every released and unreleased game Infocom made.
For obvious reasons, I can't share the whole Infocom Drive. But I have to share some of the best parts. It's just too good. (Andy Baio, Waxy)
While I understand Baio's excitement, I think it was a little careless to post the e-mails without permission from the sources (especially since most of them are obviously active on the web). He notes early in his post that he didn't contact them, but it sounds like he wasn't expecting any bad blood over this (only the need for a few corrections and clarifications)--I imagine he might have been overwhelmed by the nature of his discovery and probably didn't consider that publishing his findings might upset anyone, or thought that the historical significance outweighed the possible risks involved. But journalists should know that getting permission to publish the facts is just as important as getting the facts themselves. Journalists are held in check by privacy laws and concerns, as well they should be--they shouldn't have free reign with information simply because they have access to it.
Now, I don't believe Baio necessarily had any ill intentions. He wasn't publishing this information to hurt anyone, he just wanted to share some interesting facts. But it's common courtesy to take others' feelings into consideration when it comes to their private lives.
I think part of the problem might be the effect of new media on the separation between private and public life. For bloggers (and other new media enthusiasts), personal and private information are so often a part of the equation on public forums that we sometimes forget that not everyone is as comfortable with sharing as we are.