samedi, septembre 04, 2004

Article sur "les légendes urbaines sur Internet"

J'avais dans l'intention d'envoyer un article à la revue "Le Rotarien". Le rédacteur-en-chef est Christophe COURJON, un conscrit qui se trouve avoir fait son SMA actif comme FFA à Stetten-am-klaten-Markt avec moi. Le papier demandé a pour titre "Les légendes urbaines sur Internet". Je viens de retrouver un long article écrit alors que je découvrais les réseaux. C'était une de mes contributions à "Computer Underground Digest". J'avais brilliant à cette époque...

-------------------- Original Message --------------------
Date: Thu, 14 May 92 16:26 GMT
From: Jean-Bernard Condat <0005013469@MCIMAIL.COM>
Subject: File 2--Resurgence of a Myth ("The Dying Child")

The resurgence of a myth: Craig Shergold

If you happen to see a message on your local packet BBS about sending post cards to a dying child, you might wish to consider the following and perhaps even follow up on the BBS message.
If you call the "Children's Make a Wish" foundation, you will find that they are not soliciting any form of card for Craig Shergold or anyone else. Better yet, if you call the Guinness people (US publisher is "Facts on File" @ 212-683-2244, ext. 336), you can get this same story confirmed. You will also find that they will no longer endorse or support any effort to break this record.
Many years ago, Craig Shergold had a brain tumor, believed inoperable. He sought to set the Guinness record for get-well cards. The call was well-publicized, and he did, indeed set the record (consult a recent edition of the book--he has received in excess of 16 million cards to date; he officially set the record as of 17 Nov 1989).
As part of this whole story, his plight caught the attention of John Kluge, the US billionaire, who paid for Craig to come to the US and receive specialized treatment. As a result, Craig has recovered completely from his tumor. He is also no longer seven, but well into his teens (you can see how out-of-date the request for cards is from this--it's like circulating a letter encouraging people to vote for Carter for President).
The problem is that the mimeographed sheets and letters seeking cards for Craig have continued to be circulated. As a result, cards continue to pour in to the post office for Royal Marsden Hospital in England. Worse, the appeal has mutated into various other versions, such as an appeal for business cards, one for postcards, and another version that appeals for holiday cards.
The Shergold family has publicly appealed many times that people cease to mail them cards and letters, and that no more appeals be made on their behalf. One easily accessible way to verify this is with the article on page 24 of the 19 July 1990 NY Times. People Magazine wrote an article about it on June 1, 1991, page 63. Even Ann Landers has carried an item on this [6/23/91], but people still keep trying to send cards. Both Guinness and Royal Marsden have repeatedly issued press releases asking people to stop circulating requests for cards, as they are creating an undue burden on both the hospital and the postal service.
The Guinness people have discontinued the category to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again, and are doing their utmost to kill any further mailings. The Royal Marsden Hospital is at a loss what to do with the cards that continue to arrive--most are being sold to stamp collectors and paper recyclers, and none go on to Craig.
This appeal for Craig, as well as many urban legends, regularly appear on electronic bulletin boards around the world, and in many organizational newsletters and bulletins. It is both heartening and unfortunate that there are so many well-meaning people who continue to propagate these stories. It is too bad that so many people are unwilling to verify their information before passing such things along, especially when a simple phone call will suffice to do so. In this case, opening a recent copy of a book carried by nearly every library and bookstore would illuminate the situation.
If you would still like to do something for a dying child, consider making a donation to a charity such as UNICEF or to the International Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Magen David). Many thousands of children are dying daily around the world from disease and starvation, and countless millions more are suffering from the ravages of war, famine, disease, and natural disaster. Think how many of them might be helped by the millions of dollars in postage spent on cards to Craig Shergold...
Also, I encourage you to save this announcement, in either electronic or hard copy form, and to post it to any bulletin board you've seen the original plea on. If you see it in the future, as you probably will, you can attach a copy of this announcement. Wouldn't it be great to finally kill this story, which spreads like a virus? - JBC]

Forwarded by:
Dr Jean-Bernard Condat
Chaos Computer Club France [CCCF]
B.P. 800569351 Lyon Cedex 08, France

1. PR Newswire: "Young Recipient of Millions of Greeting cards undergoes successful surgery." March 5, 1991, 585 words;
2. PR Newswire: "Requests for cards and letters for Craig forwarded to Make-A-Wish Foundation (Craig Shergold)." April 5, 1990, 350 words;
3. "Youth who set card record takes vacation." in: Sun Sentinel (FL), Nov. 6, 1990, page 17A, 158 words;
4. Rose BOCCIO: "Deluge of cards swamp sick boy, give him record." in: Sun Sentinel (FL), April 4, 1990, page 4B, 528 words;
5. Jane SEABERRY: "Boy gets more than get-well wishes: life virginia billionaire pays for his surgery." in: San Francisco Chronicle, March 22, 1991, page B3, 748 words;
6. "Get-well cards; enough already." in: San Francisco Chronicle, August 9, 1990, page B4, 538 words;
7. Ann LARDERS: "English Boy with tumor will be fine." in: Akron Beacon Journal (AZ), June 23, 1991, page E8, 643 words;
8. Jane SEABERRY: "Fairy-tale ending for get-well-card king." in: Akron Beacon Journal (AZ), March 21, 1991, page A1, 943 words;
9. David GROGAN: "Miracle in the mail; little Craig Shergold's recovery was in the cards; brain tumor patient goes for world record in get-well cards." People Weekly, vol. 35, page 63(2), June 10, 1991;
10. Robert ALBRECHT: "Get-well cards continue after "Guinness" record try has ended." in: Colombus Dispatch, May 3, 1991, page 8C, 494 words;
11. News Editors: "Make A Wish: Update on Craig Shergold and erroneouschain letter." March 4, 1992, 433 words;
12. "Don't keep those cards and letters coming, folks." in: Orlando Sentinel, June 20, 1990, page A6, 421 words;
13. Paula MONAREZ: "Well-wishers help sick boy attain guinness record." in: Daily News of Los Angeles, April 8, 1990, page L3, 563 words.

((Moderators note: The ease of electronic communication helps spread urban legends rather quickly. Despite subsequent disclaimers, they often continue to spread. Two recent examples include the "chocolate chip cookie recipe" and the "FCC modem tax". Perhaps somebody could write a short article on "urban legends and computer dissemination)).


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