The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Surfing the Net

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The Good

1. Dawn of the Dumb: First there were dumb people. Then there were ‘Books for Dummies.’ Now there is dumbnetwork.com, a Web collective that honors the completely, totally, vegetable stupid among us that helps us look for things under the categories of ‘Dumblaws,’ ‘Funny Product Labels,’ ‘Funny Food Labels,’ etc. To win the honor of World’s Dumbest People, aspiring young idiots must drop their driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, and/or parole officers’ phone numbers at the scene of the crime, sue their saloons for falling off the bar during the Shake-It-Like-Shakira dance contest, or be Paris Hilton. Only serious candidates need apply.

Why does Dawn of the Dumb belong on the good list? When I read about Paris Hilton, I suddenly feel smart.

2. Music on MySpace: For musicians who didn’t make it onto mainstream radio, American Idol or ‘Nashville Star’ with host and judge Jewel, MySpace is the perfect place to play their song samples for future fans. Take Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen, once little-known British musicians who made it big posting unique, unpretentious music about getting drunk and busted by the police and getting to know the seamier side of London, respectively. Now the man who posted the video of himself dancing in a Speedo, on the other hand…

3. Online hype for ‘Snakes on a Plane’: Yes, the movie flopped. But it proved, once and for all, the power of people with time and computers, not to mention snakes, planes and Samuel L. Jackson. Plus, it spawned blanksonablank.com, where amateur directors teach ‘Snakes on a Plane’ auteur David Ellis a thing or two about animals on vehicles with homemade movies like ‘Raccoons on a Space Shuttle,’ ‘Eagles on a Chariot’ and ‘Sloths on a Tank.’

The Bad

1. Instant Messenger: Hello, my name is Xenia, but my screen name is drkulachpmnk. At 10 p.m. I sent hotabercrombiemodel3000 a message about my lack of sleep, my seven-dollar-a-day Starbucks habit and wanting to sleep. At 1 a.m., hotabercrombiemodel3000 sent me his picture. Hotambercrombiemodel3000 looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. Wait … that is Leonardo DiCaprio. At 4 a.m. I think hotabercrombiemodel3000 is really a 65-year-old psychotic postal worker from Vancouver. I need coffee. Is Starbucks open?

2. Turnitin.com: To prevent enterprising young Googlers from printing ready-made essays off the Web, more and more teachers are making turnitin.com mandatory. A simpler solution: If cheating really is students’ favorite subject, then create a course called Plagiarism 101. Mumble, mutter and speak in a monotone. Assign a 20-page paper titled ‘The Legacy of Plagiarism on Amenity Horticulture in Postcolonial America.’ Make gratuitous use of the terms ‘post-postmodern,’ ‘epistemologically challenged,’ ‘persistent opposition to universals’ and ‘James Joyce.’ In just one quarter, Plagiarism 101 will transform the creativity and enthusiasm of young cheaters into the all-purpose apathy of the zombies on Shawn of the Dead.

3. The State of the Union Address Drinking Game 2007 (http://www.drinkinggame.us) says that in 2002 President George W. Bush said, ‘And so, in my State of the

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