Joyce Hinnefeld


Friday, February 22, 2013

Recommended Reading--Cybercrime or Typical Academic Pettiness?

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Raphael Golb, who created countless online identities in order to address what he saw as biased and unjust attitudes toward his father’s scholarly work on the Dead Sea Scrolls, for several years now. In fact, when I first read about the discovery that Golb had created online aliases, blog posts, comments, etc. in order to smear his father’s rivals, his case became a kind of inspiration for parts of my current novel-in-progress. 

John Leland’s article in the Metropolitan section of last Sunday’s New York Times (“Online Battle Over Sacred Scrolls, Real-World Consequences”) is a sensitive and nuanced account of the whole affair. Mostly it strikes me as a sad story of two pretty unhinged men (both Raphael and his father Norman Golb). But it does raise interesting questions about First Amendment rights and academic debate, and what counts as criminal activity in the Wild West of the cyber-universe.

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