Tuesday, August 12, 2008

big lies to tell small journalists:)

yesterday I got hauled in to do a pop piece
about the recent Ryanair screenscraping story

due to just reading the very fine
Great Lies to Tell Small Children
(can lend on demand if you are interested)
and recent experience with being mis-reported
I was very tempted to give a completely incorect (*)
explanation of screenscraping, and see how they reported it

i was wondering if anyone doing research on ethics and journalism has ever done
plating false stories (especially technical) and tracked their evolution (sort of
perverse version of chinese whispers)...

jon [in the end, the journalists were perfectly sensible, so i just gave straight answers]

(*) sample examples of exaplantions

1. basically, screenscraping is done by offshre companies in china and india hiring
hunderds of people to browse a website, and then scrape off the phosphor from the
screen and put it onto sheets of paper which are then faxed to the parent site
who scan them in and put them on their web site for people to browse - this is
hard to stop as the international law on faxing web pages is not clear.

2. scientsts int he canvendish quamtum inference group have figured out how to
send nanobots constructed out of pure electrons and photons down the internet,
and they can read the screen from your PC, and then send it back to the
cavendish, where it can be displayed on a huge plasma array for reading from

3. screenscraping is a typo - it should be called screenscrapping, but, like
routeing, a letter got lost in the US post where they use smaller alphabets (just
as they use smaller paper sizes). screenscapping is where two web servers fight
out who has control pof which pixels on the display, and the stronger server (the
one that buys more badwidth) generaly gets more pixels there - this is a nice
example of market forces beign mapped directly on to the Internet protocols - we
will see a lot more of this with Web 3.0

I' indebted to john daugman for pointing me at the folowing science spoofs
1. pi is 3 (!):


2. c isn't a constant:


3. fashionable nonsense!

(!): t"he alter font of Solomon's Temple was 10 cubits across and 30
cubits in diameter, and that it was round in compass" -

btw, the temple of solomon must have been in some strange space if it was both 10 cubits across and 30 cubits in
diameter - dia+metros normally means measurement across (from my greek) _ circumference (from the latin, circum,

maybe they saw it on tv (tele - greek, video, latin)

of course, cubit could be a context sensitive metric, scaled by pi when referring to curves, but not when referring
to straight lines - that'd be an interesting way to think about the world maybe?

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