New York Times Technology The New York Times
Home
Classifieds
Find a Job
Post a Job
Real Estate
Automobiles
All Classifieds
News
International
National
Politics
Business
Technology
- E-Business
- Circuits
- Columns
Science
Health
Sports
New York Region
Education
Weather
Obituaries
NYT Front Page
Corrections
Special: A Nation
Challenged
Opinion
Editorials/Op-Ed
Readers' Opinions


Features
Automobiles
Arts
Books
Movies
Travel
Dining & Wine
Home & Garden
Fashion & Style
New York Today
Crossword/Games
Cartoons
Magazine
Week in Review
Photos
College
Learning Network
Job Market
Real Estate
Special:
NYT @ 150
Services
Archive
Help Center
NYT Mobile
NYT Store
E-Cards & More
About NYTDigital
Jobs at NYTDigital
Online Media Kit
Our Advertisers
Newspaper
  Home Delivery
Customer Service
Electronic Edition
Media Kit
Your Profile
Review Profile
E-Mail Options
Log Out
Text Version
search Welcome, monzy123  
Sign Up for Newsletters  |  Log Out
  
Go to Advanced Search
E-Mail This Article Printer-Friendly Format
Most E-Mailed Articles


December 3, 2001

COMPRESSED DATA

A Web Hoax Pokes Fun at M.I.T.'s Media Lab

By ANDREW ZIPERN

Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are known for their ambitious pranks. At the 1982 Harvard-Yale football game, a hidden weather balloon emblazoned with the letters M.I.T. sprang from an explosion of talcum powder on the field. In 1998, students hacked the university's Web site, replacing its home page with an image of Mickey Mouse and the headline "Disney to Acquire MIT for $6.9 Billion."

Now, a parody Web site devised by a student at M.I.T.'s Media Laboratory sends up the offbeat research and famously inflated jargon of that program.

On the parody site, which mimics the design of a legitimate M.I.T. Web page, the Erotic Computation Group (ecg.media.mit.edu) claims to study "the implications of modern technology on human eroticism in its myriad forms" as well as ways to "broaden the range of human amative expression." (That may not sound too far afield from real Media Lab programs like Pet Projects, an actual research group that on the real Media Lab Web site describes itself as using "computer-based tools to enhance pet-human interactions and the lives of pet animals.")

Supposed Erotic Computation student projects include ones claiming to develop "speech-based interfaces" to "mechanize the process of phone sex" and "holographic imaging techniques" that make "3-dimensional representations of sexual situations."


Parody Media Lab projects in clude "Erotic Speech Processing."

Other Resources


Related Sites
These sites are not part of The New York Times on the Web, and The Times has no control over their content or availability.

  • The "Erotic Computation Group:

  • Get Stock Quotes
    Look Up Symbols
     
    Portfolio |  Company Research
    U.S. Markets |  Int. Markets
    Mutual Funds |  Bank Rates
    Commodities & Currencies

    "There's a fair amount of fluffy stuff at the lab without much hard technology behind it," explained Dan Maynes-Aminzade, the first-year Media Lab graduate student behind the hoax. "Sometimes we hear masturbatory rhetoric about how we're changing the world. This seemed to fit."

    If the Media Lab has a reputation in some circles for focusing on pie-in- the-sky, even whimsical, research, the faculty can also appreciate a good prank. "They did a good job of mimicking a lot of the research that goes on around here," said Walter Bender, executive director of the program. "It's on the edge of what's generally acceptable," he said, but "there's been tons of these things over the years."

    Mr. Maynes-Aminzade said that Mr. Bender had e-mailed him saying that the site was so popular the traffic was slowing the network and that a Media Lab corporate sponsor had asked if the site was real.

    Despite his mild amusement, Mr. Bender remained the rigorous M.I.T. professor. "I think they could have done a better job than they did," he said.


    Home | Back to Technology | Search | Help Back to Top

    E-Mail This Article Printer-Friendly Format
    Most E-Mailed Articles


    Click Here to Receive 50% Off Home Delivery of The New York Times Newspaper.


    Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information