“If I did not have the background that I had, I don’t think I would have had the guts to say what I said about Stuxnet,” Langner says now, finishing his second glass of wine during lunch at a Viennese restaurant in Hamburg. Langner studied psychology and artificial intelligence at the Free University of Berlin. He fell into control systems by accident and found that he loved the fiendishly painstaking work. Every control system is like a bespoke suit made from one-of-a-kind custom fabric—tailored precisely for the conditions of that industrial installation and no other. In a profession whose members have a reputation for being unable to wear matching socks, Langner is a bona fide dandy. “My preference is for Dolce & Gabbana shoes,” he says. “Did you notice, yesterday I wore ostrich?” Langner loves the attention that his theories have gotten. He is waiting, he says, for “an American chick,” preferably a blonde, and preferably from California, to notice his blog and ask him out.
This looks bad in isolation. But the piece is enormous; more than 60 grafs long. Langner's complaint makes it sound like a hit piece. It's not; it's simply using those (apparently misleading) details to add some color. The article is ostensibly not even about Langner, even though it quotes and discusses him warmly throughout.
I don't want to sound like I'm defending bad reporting, but the VF articles has substantive concerns about Langner as well --- for instance, his prevalence as a authoritative source for lots of other journalism about Stuxnet --- and one way to dodge that is to redirect attention to stupid stuff like what kinds of shoes he really prefers.
"Tk" also another great journalism shortcut; it's like "XXX" in code --- easy to search for and fix later.
I'm in Chicago.