And the plot thickens. As I was reading this morning’s Daily Evergreen, (well actually I was on my way to the Horoscopes in the back because who are we kidding? Those are really the only content with substance worth reading in that newspaper,) I came across a headline that caught my eye. Hacker domain address leads to Floyd. I couldn’t help but snicker, quickly showing my father the headline. His expression was identical to mine. It was like some old Robin Hood story, in which the “hero” fighting for the masses continues to outsmart “the man” and continually leaving him with egg on his face.
Let me back track a bit. On November 5th, 2010, students at WSU were unexpectedly surprised with an unscheduled special guest appearance of “V” from V for Vendetta welcoming them to their class. A very clever and skillful student had “hacked” into the WSU Media Services and began to play a YouTube video of their creation. As the students were being entertained (and if they weren’t they should have been, how often does something of this nature happen?) the professors were left helpless as they tried to regain control of the projector system. I can only imagine how that scene could have looked, probably something out of a Three Stooges silent film. 3:34 later, students and professors were allowed to go about their normal routine, well as normal as it can get after you have just experienced George Orwell’s 1984.
As you can expect the story of the “masked man” spread throughout the town and the World Wide Web, thanks in part to “V’s” link to his own website on his YouTube page, which in turn had a link to his Facebook page. Views of the video skyrocketed to within the thousands and fans on Facebook rose to almost 900, all in a matter of 24 hours. I’ll admit I was one of the curious ones that followed the breadcrumbs. I have recently developed a tremendous interest in social media and social networking as a means of quickly sharing information with the cyber and physical world. I would have to credit this hunger for this topic to David Meerman Scott, who has written multiple books on Social Marketing and PR, of which I have plowed through like a starved cow in overly green pastures.
What this student did I found truly impressive, but I was left slightly disappointed because such an amazingly talented individual did not fully use the power that social media and networking had given him. He simply left his endeavor at just the YouTube video, blog, and Facebook page, allowing it to whither into just an escapade that could be chalked up to nothing more than just a college prank. His explanation for this abandonment was that the felt the students no longer needed him; it was their turn to speak up and turn away from “apathy.” Maybe that is true, or maybe this kid is scared almost to the point of messing his pants at the thought of getting caught, which I don’t blame him. Either way, he did a pretty darn good job of covering up his tracks, which leads me full circle back to an explanation of my introduction.
Countless hours and effort have been wasted on the search for the identity of “V.” And what do these crusaders have to show after all this work? The hacker (or at least the hacker’s address and phone number) was found to be none other than Elson S. Floyd, the president of Washington State University himself! Wah, wah, wah. Talk about a “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” scenario! Ah, if only this were the case, what a Scooby-Doo episode it would be! But truth of the matter is this was just another clever tactic used by “V” to crack another egg on the establishment’s face. Turned out the “yolk” was on them (pardon the pun.)
Now that this story is unfortunately starting to become a cold case, I will return to what really awed me about the whole situation; though I do have my own problems with the university, but let’s not go there given it would make this blog 100 pages longer. “V” only got a small taste, just a lick, of what social media and networking could have done for him. If he had continued his efforts without the fear of being reprimanded and had continued to engage with students, the media, and whomever else in real time, think of how BIG this whole incident could have turned into. It could have been a nationwide movement; because Lord knows that other universities are going through the same things due to this current economy. All he had to do was add Twitter to the mix with a dash of strategically thought out hash marks, and he could have developed an army for justice behind him that spanned the globe! Okay, I may be becoming a little over dramatic, but the power of real-time social media and networking is remarkable. There is no denying that my eyes have been opened to that. Thanks Mr. Scott!
For recent coverage of this incident, visit:
To view "V's" YouTube video:
To view "V's" Website:
To view "V's" Facebook Page:
To see what a GENIUS Mr. David Meerman Scott is, visit his blog at: