I was flipping through my feed reader today, when I came across a post at BoingBoing about some funny doctored photos of kids at a science fair. You may have seen some of the same ones here and there around the Internet: there’s a girl holding a giant clip from a set of jumper cables in front of a cardboard setup that says “Electricity vs. Cat,” and another kid with a ’70s shirt and a bowl haircut in front of a board with a large hole and two nearby electrical wires that says “12-volt Sex Robot.” They are hilarious. Unless, of course, you are the kid in the ’70s shirt and the bowl haircut. Then, apparently, they are salt rubbed in a very raw wound that was created 30 years ago at the high-school science fair.
The BoingBoing post doesn’t have any photos any more. At first, it had photos but the faces were blurred, and there was no link to the site they came from, because Mark Frauenfelder said that he was concerned that they were real photos of real kids. Then he got a comment — not from one of the kids, or one of the parents of one of the kids, but from the kid in the bowl haircut, or rather the adult who used to be the kid. He said:
“The first photo is of me. It was taken in 1974 when I entered a magnetically controlled electrical outlet as my science project. I don’t appreciate it being manipulated and spread on the internet without my permission.
I posted the original on Flickr in 2005 and have the CC license set to disallow derivatives. I would appreciate it if boingboing would remove it and stop helping this idiot that manipulated it into a humiliating image spread it all over the ‘net.”
As one other commenter pointed out, of course, all this comment really does is make everyone (including me) go to Google to find the picture. It took all of 10 seconds. The original appears to be gone from the Flickr photostream of Dr. Monster, also known as illustrator Travis Pitts (presumably because of a similar complaint from the kid in the bowl haircut) but there are other versions out there. Will Mr. Bowl Haircut remove them all? Perhaps. But as Barbra Streisand knows all too well, making such comments frequently causes more problems rather than less. And another question that springs to mind: If Mr. Bowl Haircut is sensitive about the photo, why upload it to Flickr and make it available to the public at all?