Naivity In The Late 1990s

DigitalWe've come a long way in the past ten years when it comes to our collective understanding of the world wide web and internet-based communications. In the late 1990s, I pulled a simple prank on my family that was far more effective than it should have been.

An article hit TSN.ca about a trade involving our Toronto Maple Leafs. I simply viewed the source of the HTML page, saved it to my local PC, changed the relative links so they were absolute and edited the copy so it contained a few additional lines of text. I had it refer to a young goaltender by the name of Mark Gowan from Mississauga, Ontario, who had just been signed by the Leafs. I even included a quote from someone in the Leafs organization about the promise of this prospect. Gowan was and is my cousin who was playing goal in the CIAU for the University of Guelph at the time. I then sent this new HTML file to my mom and brothers and waited for a response.

I honestly didn't think it would trip anybody up. Had I pulled this same prank today, nobody would even flinch. In the late 90s, however, they took the bait. Congratulatory phone calls were even made, causing some embarrassment once the jig was up. I never intended it to appear so valid that a call would be placed to my aunt giving her a scoop about her own son that was too good to be true. Everyone believed this mock TSN.ca article to be legitimate. It had to be, after all, it looked just like the web page!

They were different times those naive nineties. In this age of phishing, spoofing and efraud, we're all armed with a healthy dose of jade.


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