Lunchtime Links: The Golden Eagle Has Landed
What an incredibly viral video involving a golden eagle can teach you about fighting rumors. Also: The potatoes behind your in-flight WiFi. (Really.)
Sometimes a rumor just flies in out of nowhere, grabs hold, and won’t let go.
How do you uncover it, debunk it, and shake it off? Perhaps you might be able to learn a lesson or two from a viral video. That and more in today’s Lunchtime Links.
Don’t believe everything you see: It’s becoming easier than ever to fall for a rumor or misinformation. Journalists learned this the hard way last week during the Sandy Hook shooting. This week, a whimsical hoax showed itself. It involved a golden eagle, a small child, the city of Montreal, and a dramatic moment when the eagle appeared to pick the young child up. (See above.) Mind you, golden eagles aren’t native to Quebec, and it seems unfathomable that this would actually happen, so it only makes sense that this video is a hoax perpetrated by a bunch of digital-animations students looking to make the most viral video possible. At 16 million views and counting, it worked. In social communities, rumors can come out of nowhere and grab people’s imaginations. Be sure to stop them before they fly too close to the sun.
First-class spuds: As you travel this week, be sure that, when you hop on the plane’s WiFi to check your email, you take a moment to think of the potatoes that made it happen. Wait, what? Stick with me here. Apparently, Boeing recently worked on making airborne WiFi connections more reliable, and this required them to fly planes to test that things were working. They couldn’t get a plane full of people for the tests, so they filled the seats with sacks of potatoes—20,000 pounds worth—because potatoes’ electrical properties are similar to humans. Wrap your heads around that one, guys. (In case you’re wondering, they eventually validated the results with humans.)
Know when to switch gears: You may not know the name Brian Lam, but you know his work. Lam helped build the site Gizmodo from nothing into one of the largest hubs of technology information on the web. He played a major role in its most famous story, too: the leak of the iPhone 4. But Lam got sick of chasing pageviews. “I was tired of doing posts that were obsolete three hours after I wrote them,” Lam told The New York Times‘ David Carr. “I wanted evergreen content that didn’t have to be updated constantly in order to hunt traffic. I wanted to publish things that were useful.” Instead, Lam now runs The Wirecutter, a gadget-recommendation site that gets much less traffic but is designed in a way that he doesn’t need to post as much. Lam’s site takes the frustrations he had with his old job and turns them on their head. Ever find yourself needing to change the context like that? Side note: Sounds like Lam might agree with our “Slow-cial” Media Roundup from Wednesday. (ht Jamie Notter)
What sort of interesting stuff have you been reading today? Let us know in the comments.