"From Financial Family Seven, we have the Adherents of the Repeated Meme."

Meme Photo

The Internet meme photo on my right is courtesy Rocket Boom.

Yesterday, over 3,000 people visited my website. Unfortunately, they weren’t here to see the sample of The Dream King’s Daughter that I’d posted.

It started when the man behind Boing Boing, author Cory Doctorow, posted the following on his website:

High school student in Kentucky faces felony charges for writing a zombie story

Salim sez, “William Poole, an 18-year-old Kentucky high-school student wrote a story about a high-school over-ran by a plague of zombies. Not exactly the most original scenario, but just the sort of thing for a young writer to cut his teeth on. Unfortunately the kid’s grandparents found the manuscript and assumed the very worst. The high-schooler was arrested on Tuesday morning and is currently being held at the Clark County Detention Center. The local police seem to be treating this work of fiction as if it were some kind of terrorist threat.”


This story was taken up on other popular blogs, including this one in Germany, this one on LiveJournal, and this technology expert’s site.

Just one problem: the article they’re linking to (this one), though undated, is over three years old. And the reason I know this is because this same article started a firestorm before, and I was one of the bloggers who covered the prosecution of William Poole from initial charge, to his subsequent acquittal.

The more than 3000 hits came from links to my posts placed in the comment sections of these blogs by individuals hoping to correct the record. By way of comparison, this blog typically gets an average of 300 visitors a day. For twenty-four hours, my blog outpaced my Transit Toronto site in traffic.

I’m pleased that my blog site was able to correct the record, but I’m still amazed at how fast and how far this story flashed before people started to rein in the truth of it. If over 3000 people visited my blog, how many people across the world caught sight of this mistake before it was corrected?

And, the thing is, this is not the first time the story has come up after the fact. The fact that anybody could be arrested for “terroristic threatening” for writing a story about zombies (in fact Poole’s stories, while fictional, had nothing to do with zombies) seems to have turned Poole into an Internet legend, and like so many other memes, it seems destined to be reincarnated in some form or another, time and again into the future. At least Poole can take comfort in the fact that anybody who Google searches on his name will find too many other Pooles on the Internet to connect him with his past.

It just goes go show: do your research, and don’t automatically believe everything you read.


This is actually the second time I received an unexpected burst of traffic this month. My Canada Votes 2008, set up to accompany my blog story, The Week of the Rhinoceros, migrated to the top of the Google search for “Canada Votes 2008”. As a result, the website which typically receives a hit a day, if that, clocked over 6000 visitors on election night, and my own website got an additional 1000 hits from the blow-over. Oops.

Fortunately, only about three or four individuals were confused enough to e-mail me and ream me out about Elections Canada’s confusing new identification procedures.

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