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Re:Viewing 2002: Whatever happened to the dot-coms?

Scandal on the web...
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

Scandal on the web...

Remember Claire Swire? Ms Swire's most private of private goings on was shared with the world in December 2000 when an intimate email to her boyfriend escaped into the wild (http://www.silicon.com/a45866) and was read by an estimated 10 million people. Two years on we can add two more names to the list of infamous individuals named and shamed via the medium of the web. Like Elton John, Brian Tindle was a dyed-in-the-wool Watford Football Club fan. However, he allegedly showed more loyalty to his beloved Hornets than he did to his girlfriend Sarah. Tindle reportedly returned from a holiday in Greece carrying more than the obligatory bottle of Ouzo and Acropolis paperweight. In fact, far more fitting on the 'gifts for Sarah' front would have been a T-shirt which read 'My boyfriend went to Greece and all I got was this lousy VD'. For Tindle had allegedly returned from his hols with a particularly nasty virus which he quickly shared with the unfortunate Sarah. But how did we come to find out about this? Well Sarah, clearly aggrieved, decided to post the details of Brian's indiscretion onto the Watford FC message board. Word of the message spread like wildfire, until posts from as far a field as Australia and the US were joining in the debate - ensuring the name of Brian Tindle was forever etched alongside that of Claire Swire. Some estimates even suggested lost productivity, resulting from time spent following the saga, cost UK businesses as much as £1bn. Not to be outdone, a banker by the name of Trevor Luxton announced himself to the world in October (http://www.silicon.com/a55831). Luxton, a particularly obnoxious individual, was caught bragging about his sexual conquests and infidelity when an email to a friend was forwarded one too many times. Eliciting very little sympathy from any quarter, Luxton, 22, was forced to resign from his job at Credit Lyonnaise after he was suspended on full pay in the immediate aftermath of the email. While Claire Swire refuses to be knocked off her perch as the first, and still the best, digital blunder, the names of Trevor Luxton and Brian Tindle serve as reminders that the web is an awesome force for disseminating both good and bad news and has also developed a witch hunt persona. Think twice in 2003 before you cross anybody living in the internet age. Of course if you wanted to find out even more about these unfortunate individuals you would probably by now have performed a Google search. 2002 was the year when Google really cemented its place among the most important companies to emerge from the internet - its service is unrivalled and its march to dominance has continued unchecked. So let's take a moment to consider the year the search giant has enjoyed. Despite the innovation and the broadening of its services, perhaps the biggest Google story of the year was the Googlewhacking craze which was launched in February. The idea was to find a two-word combination which returned just one result on the search engine. While not as easy as it may sound, we still found hundreds with help from you, our readers (http://www.silicon.com/a50986). Google then went from strength to strength - via grid computing (http://www.silicon.com/a52230), a £1m deal with Lloyds TSB (http://www.silicon.com/a54930), a string of corporate partnerships (http://www.silicon.com/a54749) and the launch of new services such as news aggregation (http://www.silicon.com/a55665) and personal shopping (http://www.silicon.com/a56779). The only real blip in Google's otherwise impressive calendar year was when it ran into the Great Firewall of China. The Chinese government blocked access to Google over fears that surfers were using the site to find out about the outlawed spiritual movement Falun Gong, as well as more universal concerns such as pornography (http://www.silicon.com/a55369). However, the block sparked angry reaction from free speech activists who increased pressure on the perennially under fire communist government to ease its tight grip on censorship within the People's Republic. Eventually Google was returned to Chinese monitors but only as 'Google Light' - with much of the censored material still inaccessible via the search function (see http://www.silicon.com/a55554 for more). There were other goings on in the Far East this year which caught the attention of the UK media - namely the World Cup in Japan and Korea. By now we all know that England crashed out in trademark disappointing style but there was one burning question regarding the team's captain which required the attention of one website. Just how 'big' is David Beckham? By simply entering a few key statistics, including size of feet and hands, one website claimed to be able to answer this question. (See http://www.silicon.com/a55094 if you really care.) And on that note, we shall consign 2002 to the record books. Other dot-com news from 2002:
Friends Reunited: "Bigger than God"
Music lovers: Today is digital download day
Napster bought for $5m
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