Tearing off the disguise

Clay brings to our attention this April Fools Joke.

This joke proceeded in phases. First the prankster hides his true identity. I.e. he made him self more anonymous. Then he entered a number of communities where he reveal himself to be a person compatible with those communities. This was lie. As a gift he offered the folks in those communties the chance to display a badge on their sites in support of an issue they cared about. Many took him up on his offer. The trap was set.

Then on April Fools he changed the badge to one that was in opposition to the issue these folks cared about.

Clay was interested in how he was able to toggle from fragmented intimate activity into gobal broadcast activity.

I’m interested in how he was able to manage his revealing to toggle: first between his real identity into an anonymous one, then into a false fragmented one, and finally suddenly revealing a real one again.

I’m also amused by how this joke is structured. There is a whole kind of humor that depends on the punch line, the sudden revealing of the truth. Ironic humor depends on allowing your audience to know the truth as the scene plays out with those on stage blind (willfully or otherwise) to that truth. Sadistic humor does that with an element of cruely. Sarcastic humor teasing of those on stage. This prank has them all.

In a stage play this device is used to amuse the audience. The character of the pompus strutting husband made clear to the loving wife. The loving wife would appear in disguise. The audience would enjoy watching her observe, or even flirt with the pompus husband. Of course in the end the wife would rip off her disguise and the audience would all smile at the husband’s discomfort.

This joke works, at least for some, because a large portion of the prankster’s audience considers the groups he mislead to be full of themselves.

It’s also a great example of the name/thing problem. The entire prank depends on it’s victums posting the badge on their sites using a URL that fetches the badge from a site the prankster controls. That URL (universal resource locator) is being used as a name or identifier for the badge. When our prankster can switch the content the loose coupling between name and thing becomes very clear. It’s a minature example of idenity theft, i.e. the identity of that URL was hacked.

A great example of identity hacking.

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