How the Hokumburg Goombah blog found the oldest human photographed





"The first known photograph of a human being—taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838—has been brought to light this week by Robert Krulwich, at his NPR blog, thanks to the keen observation of a blogger named Hokumburg. Check out the whole story at NPR. What an incredible find!"
—Digital Photographer Magazine, [Emphasis added. The link to this we have somehow misplaced. We will find it and update this piece later.]

If you googled "first photograph of a human" any time before Monday morning before 8, Hokumburg time, you'd probably find—once you got past Wikipedia—some history of photography blog where you'd find the daguerreotype to the right.

More than likely, if you are reading this post, you arrived in Hokumburg via NPR and Robert Krulwich's extremely flattering blog piece about The Goombah and our writing about that photograph in particular. In the first few days since the Krulwich post the Goombah, which normally has fewer than 100 subscribers, received (according to the probably-misleading counter supplied by our host) 20,000 "hits." And, of course, we were full of ourselves and hard to live with as befits anyone during their fifteen minutes of fame. But the numbers, as we anticipated, began to drop off yesterday and by around 4 p.m. we had 6,000 hits for the day. Still a very respectable number for a publication like this, and far beyond our wildest expectations.

Then around 5 p.m. Yahoo picked picked up the "story" and proclaimed it "news" and somehow, in the mind of many of the Yahoos, it's gotten twisted into "The Hokumburg Goombah has discovered the oldest photograph of a human being." Yahoo is big, folks (not that big means good—no offense, but we suspect the 20,000 who came from NPR are more likely to stay here a while), and when we got home after running errands, visiting a sick friend, and getting dinner, and we checked the counter [yes, it has come to that, we are ashamed to admit], we discovered that we had received nearly a quarter-of-a-million hits in little over two hours!

It would take us ten years to read all the emails and comments.

The Archaeological Review, The History Network, The Atlantic, Blogs and publications around the world are featuring the Goombah as if this discovery is a major event in the history of...of...major events! (We're exaggerating, but, as regular subscribers know, that's what we do best)

No, it's not the lead on Katie Couric (not yet anyway), but this news story has gone viral in a small way. Here it is in China. You don't read Chinese? How about Turkish? Spanish? I don't even know what language this is. Or this. And what's this twitter? Hebrew? Arabic? Aramaic?There are thousands of these things out there, and there will be a hundred thousand more as the day goes on, now that Yahoo has taken up the cause.

So this morning we figured that some of our readers—especially those who know us to have been asked to leave Hokumburg High (some would crudely say "expelled") well before our time and have trouble imagining that we could discover two clean socks in the morning, much less a photograph of such import—would like to hear the exciting story of how we found it and became famous, in case they want to become famous too and get the best table down at the Tick Tock Tavern (the one near the window with the two-by-four splint duct-taped to one leg).

Here's the secret: We found it on Wikipedia.

Or maybe we googled something like "old photographs," we can't remember for sure.

So there you have it. I hope that answers all your questions. We're now in negotiations with a publishing house to write a book about our exciting exploits, which is sure to be made into a major motion picture [thinking George Clooney could play you know who].

Sorry we can't write more, Hokumbahts. But we're working on our Nobel Prize acceptance speech (they do give one for finding important stuff on the internet, right?). And then we're off to make our next major discovery. Maybe see you at the Tick Tock later. Look for us at the table near the window.

And of course you can buy us a round—we haven't let fame got to our heads.

Yet.

Now where's that damn Wikipedia url?....

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Gig Thurmond - 10/29/2010

As a long time fan of HNN, I'm flattered that you would print my piece. I do wish you would have kept the original title, "How The Internet Can Make You Famous," because that title, dripping with irony and sarcasm, was meant to emphasize that we did not, and never claimed to, discover the photo.

Another minor quibble, but you also cut off the last line where I made clear that I was not Mister Hokumburg. There is, in fact, no Mister Hokumburg.

I am, and always have been,your obediant servant,

Gig Thurmond,
Editor
The Hokumburg Goombah

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