Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lutz Heilmann Makes Himself FAMOUS!

Lutz Heilmann, a (formerly) little-known German politician and former member of the East Germany Stasi, has joined the sadly never-ending roll call of politicians who just don't get the Internet--which, if you'll remember, is a series of tubes. Heilmann accomplished this through an epic feat of killjoyery, by getting an injunction against wikipedia.de which pulled the site for a few days this week over a claim in his article that he didn't complete his university degree (!!!). That's right, apparently he's fine with the whole Communist secret police thing, but you impugn his diploma at your own peril.

Anybody could've told him what was about to happen, but some people have to learn these things the hard way: the German Internet dropped on his head like a ton of bricks (along with the press...and Slashdot, of course), forcing him to drop the injunction and eat a plate of crow.

Apart from not being able to predict the oh-so-predictable uproar, Heilmann is a 1.0 thinker in a 2.0 world. Consider this:
  • wikipedia.de, the local site that the court injunction pulled, isn't actually the German Wikipedia site, but a search engine which passes you off to the main pages. Technically, it's the only site he could act on, since de.wikipedia.org operates under Florida jurisdiction, just like the rest of the Wikipedia family.
  • Any Wikipedian can tell him that you don't kill a negative article through the court system; you kill it by getting an aide to edit it on the sly for you. Apparently Heilmann actually tried that, but the edits were traced directly to the Bundestag building, which is pretty damn weak. What part of the Stasi did you work for again?
  • Instead of the expected search page, German users were greeted not only with the bad news, but an invitation to make a monetary donation to Wikimedia Deutschland. As a result, the contributions spiked roughly 500% over the weekend. Great job!

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