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can you spell "hoax"?

I'll try to describe my thinking process in the two (2) seconds that followed reading this (and I recommend you get to the end of this post, where the mystery is revealed!).

As linked in the previous paragraph, Seb at Many2Many has posted a link to a message on the reputation mailing list where Orkut is "outed" as a "Master's thesis" of a random person who (they say) works for Orkut (the man, not the site).

Let's see. You are Google, right? You are a 1500+ person company, one of the most respected in the world, that is soon to be going public. So when a developer comes up from somewhere saying they want to do a "Master's thesis" using the company's name and reputation (including a link of "in affiliation with Google), you say "suure, go ahead". Furthermore, the student wishes to remain anonymous, so another developer (Orkut) is recruited (somehow) to use this own name and take all the credit and responsibility.

So far so good, right?

Now you launch, and after a few days pass the experiment is a success. So this student (presumably Eric Schmidt at this point, or his alter-ego) tells Google to throw a party (and he gets random people to talk about it afterwards) in a posh San Francisco location for hundreds of people. Since Orkut (the man) is still the "patsy", the party in question is announced as Orkut's idea, and makes it coincide with his birthday. To this, Google says "but of course! My pleasure!" and happily pays for the expenses (alternatively, this student is also a millionaire and pays out of his own pocket).

Luckily for everyone involved, someone posts a message to a mailing list quoting an "article" from an unknown writer with no links to an organization of any kind (even a personal site) to back it up.

But of course, it must be true!

Now you look for the source, and you discover it's this page at HACT (What do you mean what's HACT? you mean you've never heard of it? What rock have you been hiding under?).

Oh, but wait, this is the same page that, at the bottom, says: "Please note that this is a humor article and is not true in any way, shape or form, except in that it rings true in a scary way".

Damn. It wasn't true I guess. I thought that my explanation above was so incredibly reasonable, so universal, that you could post happily in indignation about it without thinking twice.

Hm. So you mean I shouldn't post about that message I read somewhere that said that Orkut in reverse spelled the name of the Alien race that actually sent this student to Stanford to do get a Masters and discover what the earthlings are up to?

PS: I find it interesting that something so patently unbelievable could disseminate at all without a ton of smileys and LOLs before and after the text.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 26, 2004 at 3:56 PM

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