'Webtribution' Fact And Fiction

'Webtribution' is the Wall Street Journal's name for using the Internet to get revenge for the acts of others. Science fiction fans are way ahead, as usual; John Brunner originated the idea about thirty-five years ago.

Here's a typical scenario, as outlined in the article:

Every person you know—each family member, friend, co-worker and casual acquaintance—receives an anonymous email from a stranger making terrible accusations about you.

How would you feel?

Renee Holder knows: "Devastated."

Several years ago, Ms. Holder discovered that dozens of her MySpace friends had received an anonymous email calling her a tramp and a home-wrecker.

For weeks, she tried to counter the allegations, which she says came from her new boyfriend's former girlfriend. She methodically contacted each person she believed received the email and explained that she hadn't started dating her boyfriend until months after he had broken up with his ex.

But the harm was already done. Family members called her and questioned her morals. Co-workers whispered about her behind her back. Several friends cut her off completely.

"It took me far longer to repair the damage than it took that woman to create it," says Ms. Holder, a 34-year-old customer-service representative in Austin, Texas, who eventually married her boyfriend. "In a matter of minutes, she spread a rumor internationally."


(First edition cover for The Shockwave Rider)

In John Brunner's classic 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider, computer genius Nickie Haflinger happened to offend a certain Shad Fluckner, an employee of Anti-Trauma, Inc. When Haflinger woke up in the morning to find his power out, he took steps to discover the source of the problem:

A sweet recorded voice told him his phone credit was in abeyance pending judgment in the lawsuit that was apt to end with all his assets being garnisheed...

Lawsuit? What lawsuit?...

Then the answer dawned on him, and he almost laughed. Fluckner had resorted to one of the oldest tricks in the store and turned loose in the continental net a self-perpetuating tapeworm, probably headed by a denuciation group "borrowed" from a major corporation, which would shunt itself from one nexus to another every time his credit-code was punched into a keyboard. It could take days to kill a worm like that, and sometimes weeks.

Being a full-service science fiction author, Brunner not only describes the problem, but also its solution - the counter-worm:

He sent a retaliatory worm chasing Fluckner's. That should take care of the immediate problem in three to thirty minutes, depending on whether or not he beat the inevitable Monday morning circuit overload.

It was a common problem:

According to recent report, there were so many worms and counter-worms loose on the data-net now, the machines had been instructed to give them a low priority unless they related to a medical emergency.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal, while they're still accepting your click-thru.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/3/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

Razer Project Valerie Laptop Unfurls
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently...' - William Gibson, 1986.

Google Home Continues Implementation Of Pohl's Joymaker
'It is a transponder connecting you with the central computing facilities of the city in which you reside on a shared-time, self-programming basis.' - Frederik Pohl, 1966.

New Startup 'Improbable' To Model Our World
'A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.

Tricking Cells Into Making Silicon Chips
'Fabricated by genetically engineered metal affinity bacteria...' - Marvel, 1984.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

Robotic Physician Assistant Has Steady 'Hands'
'You turned the screws below and the prongs moved... with caliper slowness, minuteness and precision.'

Roboy 3DPrinted Humanoid Robot
'A robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family...'

Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe
'Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect...'

3D Printed Fashion - Plastirobes And Transdresses
'... dial a new fashion every day!'

Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...'

Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!'

Otto Autonomous Robot Trucks Run Into... Legal Snag
'They were automatic trucks such as are used for making deliveries...'

Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
'The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together...'

ThreeForm 3D Scans And Digitally Simulates Customer Fashion
'...A miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red.'

CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...'

Piaggio Gita Personal Robot Porter
'Carry his bag... and follow him faithfully...'

Ardu McDuino, Bagpipe Robot
'Rollo sat at the keyboard, prim, inhuman, rigid, twin lenses focused...'

Not Quite Self-Replicating Robots, Franka Emika
'... it shares with mankind the ability to propagate.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.