The Internet has many unique qualities. One is the extreme difficulty in trying to undo something that has already been published online. In many cases, there are no “take backs.”
Recently, a Swiss management firm tried to have the Web site Wikileaks taken down because the site allegedly hosted sensitive information from the bank. Although a U.S. judge ordered one of Wikileaks’ Web addresses to be removed, the move appears to have backfired. As Ars Technica reports, Wikileaks is still accessible and the matter has drawn a ton of publicity.
Looking locally, the Chico News & Review recently removed a name from one of its stories online — the subject of a Feb. 7 article looking into possible plagiarism at The Orion, the student newspaper at Chico State University.
The move left me wondering why. This student isn’t anonymous — her name remains on the story she filed for The Orion. Also, her name remains in the print version of the News & Review, which has a stated circulation of 42,000. I’m fairly sure I can dig through Google’s cache of the original N&R article to find the name as well.
According to an update posted on the N&R’s article, the newspaper removed her name at the request of the Orion author and the Chico State journalism department. The note does not offer further details, but I wish the N&R would have given us more. It is very rare for newspapers to remove information like this, especially at the request of a story’s subjects.
At issue is an Orion story published exclusively online on Dec. 22, which appears to contain sentences and phrases that are extremely similar to those in an earlier article published in The Sacramento Bee. The Orion article doesn’t attribute the Bee, although an editor’s note has acknowledged the similarities.
The N&R published a sidebar pairing the similar opening paragraphs from each story.
Was it plagiarism? I can’t say, but a dictionary definition of plagiarizing (from m-w.com) is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own.”
The Orion editors and Chico State faculty have strenuously denounced the plagiarism allegations in the N&R article and in subsequent letters to the N&R. However, the print edition of The Orion has remained utterly silent on the matter (although there’s that note on the online article).
For the sake of completeness, here are the articles (in chronological order):

Common sense prevails for government Web site

Back when the Web was young, the United States government set up a clearinghouse Web site. This site was geared to tie all of the various services and institutions to one address so people wouldn’t have to search the FTC or the DoD for an IRS tax form.
It sounded good and still does. What didn’t sound good was the site’s Web address — firstgov.gov.
It was a silly name — “gov” is in the address twice, for crying out loud. I could barely remember the name tonight when I was trying to find some financial information on a company.
Thankfully, the U.S. government has eventually wised up and changed the name to a much-simpler one. All those services are now available at USA.gov.
I originally thought the address should’ve been America.gov. It seems the U.S. State Department is now using that as a news and information site.
Similarly, our friends up north have both canada.ca and gc.ca go to the same place. Apparently “GC” stands for “government of Canada” (or “gouvernement du Canada”), but who’s going to remember that?

Everything’s back to “Normal”

Things are hopping downtown. The fences are down on the new Transit Center (which will apparently open after some tests and evaluations).
Crews recently also corrected the signs on Normal Avenue. As I detailed earlier, in a NorCal Blogs exclusive post, someone had goofed and put up the wrong signs.
The signs appear to have been changed recently. After a couple of months of waiting, I was wondering when the change would be done. But there are at least two things I can think of that might explain the delay — including recovering from January’s storms and actually ordering the new signs.

Super Bowl ad yanked

Just a quick follow-up to my last post, which touched on a questionable Super Bowl ad featuring cartoon pandas speaking in dubious Asian accents.
According the New York Times, the ad has been withdrawn with an apology from Vinod Gupta, the head honcho at InfoUSA, the parent of Salesgenie.com. It’s a good article, detailing how Gupta has been the brains behind the commercials over the past couple of years and the reaction from audience tests of the ads (as part of the Super Bowl ad extravaganza).
The NYT article also discusses humor and race in advertising. It’s a fine line and it’s one that appears to be easier to cross as time goes by. Is it still safe to mix humor and race in advertising and programming and still be entertaining/effective?

Super Bowl delivers super stunner

There are certain assumptions that people have about the Super Bowl — most people watch the commercials and the game itself is actually kinda dull. This year’s Super Bowl turned those assumptions on their heads by delivering an outstanding game. The commercials were more of an expensive afterthought offering the usual mix of hits and misses.
Sure, the game was slow going after the New York Giants scored a field goal in the first quarter and the New England Patriots answered with seven points just barely into the second quarter. The fourth quarter definitely paid for the price of admission as the Giants surge into the lead only to let it slip from their fingers with just minutes left in the game.
Down four points, Giants quarterback Eli Manning delivered one of the most outstanding Super Bowl plays I’ve seen. I would try to describe it, but watching a clip would do it much more justice.
The Patriots blitzed Manning and had their hands on his jersey. Pulling away from the eager tugs of his opponents, Manning is able to scramble into the open briefly. Instead of letting the chaos wash over him, Manning actually throws the ball downfield into the arms of his receiver.
I’m sure you can get better recaps elsewhere on the ‘net. However, when people are screaming “Oh, my God” repeatedly over a play, it’s worth mentioning.

Super Bowl reflections

Commercials — As I said earlier, the commercials were almost an afterthought although three of the people attending my exclusive Super Bowl party were primarily interested in them.
If you want a recap of the commercials, TV Squad is one of the dozens of places with mini reviews and embedded videos.
My bottom line — it’s outrageous that people pay $2.7 million for 30 seconds of exposure, especially when the ads are mostly dissatisfying. Here’s what I thought was the best and the worst:
The best: I definitely liked the NFL’s Super Ad, much for the reasons detailed by TV Squad. Essentially, it details how future NFL player Chester Pitts was bagging groceries in San Diego when another football player discovered him and encouraged him to try out for college ball. Although Pitts said the only thing he played before college was the oboe, he turned out to be a good football player.
What an awesome commercial with a sweet rags-to-riches story. It definitely had a fairy tale feel to it, leading many to ask if the story was real. I said it has to be because I knew the months of promotion for the NFL Super Ad competition where people were asked for vote for the best story from NFL players.
I also enjoyed Coca-Cola’s duel between parade balloons Underdog and Stewie Griffin. It was all the sweeter that periennial loser Charlie Brown finally won.
Although the commercial was played for laughs, part of me was reminded of the injuries when floats have gotten out of control in the past (which is why there are much stricter rules in place at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade).
The worst: Let’s say you have a Web site in business to generate business leads, somehow. What better way to get the word out than buying at least $5 million of commercials. One of the commercials was pretty bad — it was a cartoon (!) featuring pandas having problems selling their bamboo furniture. However, thanks to this Web site (which I’m deliberately forgetting the name of), they were able to save their business.
This commercial completely rubbed me the wrong way. Not only was it the extremely rare cartoon promoting a business Web site, the whole premise of pandas selling bamboo furniture and speaking with seemingly stereotypical Asian accents struck me as vaguely racist or at least disrespectful. It seemed like one step away from making chopstick buck teeth and saying “Me so sorrie.”
I can’t say the Asian accents were faked because I don’t know who the voice talent was, but the whole endeavor didn’t seem sincere to me.
While Go Daddy may have been able to successfully promote its domain-registration business with inexplicably popular commercials, I don’t know if this other company will be able to see similar success.

The broadcast: I thought the actual game broadcast was nice although I have no idea what Super Bowl 3 and Super Bowl 42 are, as FOX Sports referred to them in on-screen graphics. I thought all the Super Bowls had roman numerals, like III and XLII. Learn to count, people.
I skipped the pregame show (which was apparently 18-hours long, give or take a day). It’s usually a lot of fluff and my disinterest grew when I heard that FOX News was producing this argueably sports-oriented program (so they could tout their Super Tuesday election coverage).
Having FOX cameras spot the celebrities in the stands was fun for a minute, but I always wonder why they have to be Hollywood celebrities. Just once I would like Joe Buck to say, “There’s Nobel Laureate Gerhard Ertl. He won the 2007 Nobel for his contributions in chemistry.”
I know not to hold my breath.

Halftime: I’ve largely derided the halftime shows since the NFL took over the production after the incident that brought America to its knees. In retrospect, it’s mostly because of their super safe choices not the entertainment value.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers gave a fun performance that definitely had a lot of people at my party singing along. I just wish the NFL would showcase some younger talent.
Also, it would be nice to see another female performer on the halftime stage. Heck, FOX Sports included a woman in its out-of-place, yet nice, tribute to the Declaration of Independence (which addressed a beef I had the last time).
Since “the incident” in 2004, the NFL must follow an extremely rigid set of rules when selecting the halftime show. The rules are all geared to avoid another “malfunction” of the sort that so disrupted our state of affairs. To the best of my knowledge, they are:

  1. No breasts — No breasts, no problems. Right?
  2. Performers must be on Social Security — All right, they’re not 65, but they’re close. The average age of performers is 59
  3. Performers must be dudes — See rule 1.
  4. Must not have reputation for taking clothes off, at least not recently.

In the end, the Super Bowl is supposed to be about a game and it succeeded this year.

Wow, 2008

Here it is 2008 and the MySpace blogging tool still doesn’t fully work with Firefox. What’s up with that, Tom?

Given how “young” and “cutting edge” MySpace is, I would’ve thought Tom and his cabal would make their blogging tool work with more browsers than just stodgy IE (and maybe Safari, but I doubt it). [UPDATE: It doesn’t fully work in Safari either.]

Anyway, this blog post is just an excuse to try out the podcast enclosure feature and see if it actually works. [UPDATE: Which it doesn’t. Thanks, Tom!]

EVEN LATER: All right, mea culpa. The podcast enclosure works — just not in any way that people would know about unless they open a blog’s RSS feed. Even then, the whole process is a little cryptic. A casual reader would have no idea there’s an enclosed podcast unless the poster specifically mentions it.