Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Light Years

Everyone has their own form of morbid curiosity. Some people read murder stories or obituaries. Others slow down when passing a car wreck. Here's my personal variant, which says a lot about my research interests: I like to check the websites of politicians who have resigned from office because of an irreparable scandal to see how long the site will be frozen in the positive past of the do-gooding office-holder before it changes to a successor's information or to web oblivion. I've watched the webpages of David Vitter and Mark Foley in the past to see when their indiscretions would be reflected in the formalized representations of their web personae.

Now I'm on the deathwatch for the official New York State page for disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned today. Although the site has been updated with links to a few tight-lipped statements about the scandal, which involved both patronizing a prostitution ring and hiding financial records that show the illegal transactions, the biggest image on the webpage still shows a smiling, hard-working governor Spitzer helping small business and the little guy. At the bottom of the page we see Spitzer posed behind a podium with the state seal and flashing a thumbs-up to the crowd.
Sometimes I feel that this process is like watching the sky and waiting for a star that has already gone dead to wink out once the time it takes for light to carry the record of this event to Earth has finally elapsed. But for now Spitzer is still triumphant and still serving his constituents. It will be interesting to see what his successor, David Paterson, will bring to the visual identity of the virtual state in New York. As a visually impaired person, he may view the website differently.

Update: Satiric videos about the scandal are already appearing. See this one and this one for examples. His status as "client #9" is a frequent refrain.

There has also been some coverage of the design and content of the website of the Emperors Club VIP website for the call-girl ring Spitzer frequented, along with the MySpace page of a possible prostitute who may have worked for the organization and had Spitzer as a client. The Emperors Club site actually was taken down quite quickly after the scandal broke.



Blogger Lupton said...

If prostitution were legal, Spitzer wuldn't be in a pickle. I'll always remember him as the man who took on organized crime before battling the white collar gangsters. I will miss Client #9, and his website, too.

8:36 PM  

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