Tom Zeller’s article on various nuts on sighted on the Internet isn’t sufficiently bemused. The net is full of odd balls; it’s part of the architecture. Even so I’m bemused by his archetypical New York Times retorical style: “…a host of other, more colorful agendas are being burnished at the Internet’s fringe – with Katrina serving as chamois”
Tom should write another article about the amusing traffic on the PR Newswire regarding Katrina. Those PR flacks can manage to taint the most well meaning efforts of their employers by writing them us in self serving press releases. My favorite PR wire item is this one:
ATLANTA, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ — As Hurricane Katrina prepares to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast, residents and businesses are encouraged to keep a copy of The Real Yellow Pages close by for critical information on hurricane preparedness, survival and aftermath resources.
Tom’s article about post-Katrina scams is interesting. The low barrier to entry makes the Internet a fine venue for nutters, scammers. “Federal Bureau of Investigation put the number of Web sites claiming to deal in Katrina information and relief – some legitimate, others not – at ‘2,300 and rising.'”
Sooner or later we are going to introduce some serious infrastructure that help innocent people from thinking that nutters represent a widely held belief or that scammers are a legitimate organization. But it’s going to take a while because we have so many powerful institutions that would love to volunteer to do the job; none of which trust each other.
Meanwhile I’m reminded of this story.
…he told Johnny Carson four years earlier about his chimney-building days.
During his 1981 appearance, Arnold (Schwarzenegger) explained to Johnny how his bricklaying business worked. Franco and Arnold would call on a homeowner. Arnold, always good with the public, would keep the homeowner busy, discussing prices and such. “In the meantime,” Arnold recounted, “Franco climbed up on the roof to check the chimney-and he, of course, is a very strong guy and a [weight] lifter-he pushed all the chimneys over so they fall down. So these people come and say, ‘Oh, thank you so much for helping us. This could have fallen on somebody’s head, you know. Thank you for doing it for us.'”
Johnny was impressed. “What a racket,” he told the immigrant with a dream in his eye. “You go and push chimneys down and then rebuild them.”
“Exactly,” Arnold replied.
You don’t need the Internet to be a nut or a criminal.