There's a common children's game that I knew as "Telephone" growing up, but which apparently goes by many names. The premise is simple -- and it's likely most of you played it as well. A bunch of kids stand in a line, and the first whispers something to the next, who turns and whispers it to the person on the other side. This continues to the end of the line, where the resulting phrase is announced out loud, and everyone is amused at how much the message changed from the beginning to the end. It seems like we too often see a similar game being played online -- even when no whispering seems to go on at all, but the facts are clearly laid out. Take for example, this headline that made it to the front of Digg: McNealy Resigns, Will Google Buy Sun Microsystems?. That seemed like big news here. Scott McNealy actually resigning from the company he founded and has run for over two decades? Wow! Except it's not true at all. The Digg post links back to a Blog Critics post which, does, in fact, use the same headline. In that article, the first paragraph (despite the headline) doesn't say that McNealy has resigned. It selectively cuts out the context and quotes an analyst saying McNealy "will soon move on from the company." From this, it still sounds like McNealy has made his intention to leave clear. Yet, we move on one further step in the game to the original Forbes article and find a very different story. There, the headline reads "Sun CEO Could Move On" which has pretty much been true forever. He could move on, but that doesn't mean he will any time soon. Instead, the article quotes a random analyst who thinks that McNealy may leave Sun soon, despite the fact that McNealy specifically told him: "he was staying on 'until the job is done.'" So, if you follow the trail back, we have McNealy saying he's staying until the job is done, to an analyst saying McNealy may leave soon, to Forbes focusing on how McNealy may be leaving, to someone at Blog Critics saying he's resigning soon, to someone at Digg saying it's a done deal and McNealy is gone -- while also saying that Google is "getting closer" to buying Sun (an aside that got introduced somewhere in the middle of this mess). And you wondered why people felt the internet wasn't trustworthy?
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