Nerd World: Why Facebook Is the Future

A network for teens could teach the Net to grow up

Illustration for TIME by Leo Espinosa

On Aug. 14 a computer hacker named Virgil Griffith unleashed a clever little program onto the Internet that he dubbed WikiScanner. It's a simple application that trolls through the records of Wikipedia, the publicly editable Web-based encyclopedia, and checks on who is making changes to which entries. Sometimes it's people who shouldn't be. For example, WikiScanner turned up evidence that somebody from Wal-Mart had punched up Wal-Mart's Wikipedia entry. Bad retail giant.

WikiScanner is a jolly little game of Internet gotcha, but it's really about something more: a growing popular irritation with the Internet in general. The Net has anarchy in...

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