So, it’s not an evil underground terror network ready to unleash untold destruction on the major population centres of the world after all. Nor even a viral marketing scheme for the next James Bond film or Halo 3:
www.eon8.com (original website – now just shows a list of mirrors)
(See official Eon8 fansite for the full lowdown.)
For six months leading up to yesterday (1st July), the website http://www.eon8.com displayed — in ominous black and white — a simple map of the world and and a timer counting down to zero. The other links on the main page (now taken offline due to massive amounts of Slashdot and ytmnd traffic) led to areas which required a password for access.
In addition to the site itself, the creator made a number of mysterious posts on a variety of forums which consisted of little more than random codes and indecipherable messages. Once the geek and tech communities of the web caught on, there was rampant speculation as to the site’s purpose. I guess most people believed it was probably some sort of hoax (after all, what top secret government agency or terror organisation publicises their plan to bring about the END OF THE WORLD by creating a website for it?), but that still didn’t stop the hackers and codebreakers trying to work out what on earth was going on.
I only found out about this last week after viewing a bunch of alternately hilarious and ridiculously portentous ytmnds about the phenomenon. Turns out it was all a social experiment designed to see how people react to very little information. The guy who created it — a web designer from Florida variously called Mike or Chris — said he was “disappointed that people expected the worst”:
“For many people, being faced with a countdown timer was an instant reason to try to shut down or hack the site. This is a worrying reaction, that if someone doesn’t understand something they must destroy it. As a result, the servers have been hit quite hard these last few days, but luckily 99% of the ‘hackers’ could easily be described as ‘l4me n00bs’. Another worrying example of paranoia was how quickly people would jump to conclusions, such as telephoning the registered owner of a dog seen in a photograph on a server that hosts a page that links to eon8.”
So there you have it: what we don’t understand we must destroy. Human nature, lol.