I’ve been distracted with one thing and another of late (holidays, children, writing projects), so I’m behind on posting. Sorry about that. Meanwhile, I had the pleasure last week of writing about a historical hoax perpetrated by a bunch of students in a history class at George Mason University. They created a fictional 19th-century pirate named Edward Owens and turned him loose on the Internet, along with a made-up undergraduate namd Jane Browning who was supposedly tracking down the Owens legend.
The catch? Their professor, T. Mills Kelly, told them to do it. It’s a study in ethics, in research skills, and in learning to tell a sound source from a suspect one. Read more in my story and at Mills’s blog, edwired. Reax from American Historical Association staffers here (scroll down a bit). Also see Edward Owens’s Wikipedia entry and Jane Browning’s YouTube videos. You have been warned.
Note: The Wikipedia entry is marked as being considered for deletion, which suggests that someone in Wikipedialand wasn’t too happy about being hoaxed. I’ve seen some blogospheric debate about whether the class took unfair advantage of so-called trust networks to disseminate the hoax. That’s an interesting debate right there.