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May 21, 2010

URL Hacks, Political Hacks, & Nebbyquette

When new devices come out you can tell who the early adopters are; they're the folks flaunting their Palm Pilot oops cellphones oops smartphones oops iPads in the coffee shops and geek hotspots.

You can tell that a new gadget has gone mainstream when corporations and school districts buy them and they become something that employees have to use rather than get to use.

But how do you know when a technology or utility has gone beyond mainstream? How do you know when it's beyond the tipping point and reaching not the early adopters, but the final adopters, the reluctant outliers?

Answer: the final adopters are Yinzers. When stories about (allegedly) nebby Pittsburgh plumbers who are URL-squatting make it to the front page of the PostGazette, and the stories aren't about the technology -- they're more of the traditional who-screwed-who narrative -- then the final adopters are onboard. "Hey, yinz are typosquatting my URL n'at."

Finally, Netiquette (the do's and don'ts of the web) is extending to the Yinzers and evolving into Nebbyquette.

Another story showing how well our Yinzer final adopters are moving into the world of 2.0 is the PostGazette's story about Attorney-General (and Republican candidate for governor) Tom Corbett seeking the identities of anonymous bloggers and Twitter-ers who have said mean things about him.

This story, out on the street just two days after Corbett became the remaining barrier to Governor Dan Onorato's ascending to Gov. Rendell's office, positions Corbett as an enemy of free speech, political criticism, blogs, and twitter-ers. Why, he's just un-American; suppose Publius the Pamphleteer had been outed in his day?


If you accept the article's description of Corbett as valid, he has unwittingly unleashed the full force of the Streisand Effect against himself, which in the Web 2.0 world ensures that any attempt to constrain knowledge will paradoxically result in it's widespread circulation.

The Streisand Effect found it's label when Ms. Streisand sued to keep a picture of her house off the internet; perversely, her actions prompted the legion of webbisches to distribute the photo much more widely than it ever would have been if she'd just left it alone.

Similarly, Mr. Corbett's reported actions have unleashed a bit of a torrent in the blogosphere and the twitterverse. His eventual reversal of the subpoena request once the suspect was sentenced suggests that he was witch-hunting.

The real hacking here, though, comes in the first few lines of Paula Reed Ward's article in the Post-Gazette:
The Pennsylvania attorney general issued a subpoena to Twitter
earlier this month
seeking the identities of two account holders who have repeatedly posted negative comments about Tom Corbett and his Bonusgate investigation.
The P-G had this story for three weeks, and sat on it until after Corbett won the primary.

URL hacks by Pittsburgh plumbers? New.
Political hacks in Pittsburgh newspapers? Old school.
Using legacy media to unleash the Streisand effect on your opponent? Priceless.

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