Introducing WhoseKidAreYou

I’d like to introduce you to a new project. The other day, I was reading an imbecilic union-bashing editorial by one “Hugo Rifkind”, and I wondered….whose kid are you? Wikipedia informed me that diary columnist (it’s like a journalist but not quite) Rifkind is indeed the former Defence and Foreign Secretary’s son, and he’s “written” a “book” about “the London media world” called Overexposed Overexposure, which kicks the bottom out of the rotting barrel of satire.

And there, I had it – we need a Web site to monitor nepotism, and backscratching influence-peddling more generally. WhoseKidAreYou! There’s been quite a lot of work on designing machine-readable ways of expressing relationships between people, but to start with, I reckon we need a decent wiki server or else perhaps a Django install, and the British journalists section of Wikipedia as a start. We can crowdsource the rest; we’ve got bitterness and resentment on our side, plus a powerful kicker of personal loathing!

We’ll need to hold basic biographical data, plus job and publication history, a link to corresponding Wikipedia data, and of course, the crucial affiliations. Not just WhoseKidAreYou, but also WhoseThinktankDoYou”Work”For. Once we’ve got a reasonable amount of data, we can think about social-graph visualisations and other fancy twirls; we could also do a browser extension that picks out bylines, searches the DB in background, and shows a notification. “Did you know this was written by Christopher Hitchens’ illegitimate son, working for a thinktank founded by Douglas Murray?”

I am deadly serious about this, and I would like your comments. The project isn’t really suited to – it’s far from neutral and it’s explicitly partisan and generally vicious – so it’ll have to be unilateral. I’ve set up a Google group (aka a mailing list/usenet group) over here.

UPDATE: More is here, including how to take part.

UPDATE UPDATE: Hugo Rifkind has been in touch, to point out that I misspelled the title of his book.

14 Comments on "Introducing WhoseKidAreYou"

  1. I salute this idea!
    How about ‘Where did you get that ‘in’?’ for a more generic title (to the tune of ‘Where did you get that hat?’ obviously).

    Also, how about some form of ExactlyHowBogusBatshitAndPartisanIsThat OrganisationThatTheBBCIsReportingARandomPressReleaseFrom?


  2. @celestialweasel: is usually pretty helpful when it comes to answering the EHBBAPITOTTBIRARPRF problem…


  3. isn’t this just an exyension of the ad hominem fallacy? That what these people might say doesn’t matter, because of who they happen to be?


  4. He’s Malcolm Rifkind’s son (and ancient old Sparts like us don’t like Malcolm Rifkind); he’s critical of unions (because unions are selfless tribunes of the people, yay!); discount his opinion.

    That is as neat an encapsulation of the ad hominem fallacy as I’ve yet seen.

    Catastrophically wrong-headed. You might as well adduce the fact that one Hitchens brother (Christopher) is a Trotskyite to vititate the opinions of the other (Peter), who is a paleo-conservative. One’s pro-Iraq War. One’s anti. Guess which one?

    When people like you accept the fact that Richard Gott is a KGB shill, then I might take you seriously.


  5. Of course, you could also have a version titled ‘WhoseOxbridgeContempoaryWereYou’ – but I suspect the server would crash.



  6. As it happens I can’t think any of my Oxbridge contemporaries (in the sense of having attended the same college at the same time) who are actually famous, although I’m fairly sure that several – quite likely more than several – are rich. Media people would however include the talentless Sabine Durant.

    Is Christopher Hitchens a Trotskyite? Not for more than thirty years, I’d have said. If David Gillies knows otherwise I’d be glad to be informed.


  7. Brilliant!
    But, the “social graphs” have me worried.
    In the spirit of recent conjectured about CDOs, will we find that the subgraphs of backscratchers are intractable and can’t be backcomputed…? 😉

    Sort of like “Murder on a Train”, except they leave their victims alive, mostly.


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