Thursday, November 30, 2006

When Memes Go Bad

The Rainbow Versatile Disc hoax has taken the net by storm. In short, an article was published on a questionable news site claiming that a researcher in India had created a technology to store 256GB of data on a piece of A4 paper.

The claim alone should raise eyebrows, but thinking the concept through a bit -- it is clearly nonsense. Here is a good summary as to why it's impossible.

But what is worrying is how widespread this story has become in the blogosphere. A google search for 'rainbow versatile disc' yields over 200,000 results.

It's obviously a cool concept. It obviously hit a nerve -- people want it to be true. But why aren't people checking the facts, or investigating the sources a bit more?

Given the trend of popular blogging stories appearing in traditional media, I wouldn't be surprised if a legitimate news source, such as the BBC picked up on this story and reported it, and the signal would only get stronger.

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