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Books Microsoft Patents Idle Your Rights Online

Microsoft Patent Deems Comic Books Shameful 209

Posted by samzenpus
from the worst-patent-ever dept.
theodp writes "A newly-surfaced Microsoft patent application describes methods of secretly matching up individuals whose shared 'fringe interests' might be 'a source of shame or embarrassment' to them should they become known to society-at-large. No, not sexual preferences. A much bigger taboo. Comic books. 'For example,' explains Microsoft in its filing, 'an ambitious professional is not likely to divulge that he likes, say, comic books, even though quite true. Appreciably, certain affinities especially those relating to fringe interests, eccentricities, or topics about which there is a common misconception or very little mainstream familiarity or understanding are generally omitted rather than included in conventional descriptions. Typically, this is so because these affinities might be a source of shame or embarrassment or incur undue explanation.'"
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Microsoft Patent Deems Comic Books Shameful

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  • by devxo (1963088) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:05PM (#35453362)
    Well, are you sure would really want to tell right away to some girl you meet that you read comic books or watch anime? Things like can make people think about you wrongly. And for example, when I'm visiting Thailand I like the ladyboys there, but it's not something I'd say to anyone when I first meet them.
    • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:09PM (#35453420)
      Just because you don't mention something you like right off the bat doesn't make it shameful. I hardly ever talk of my love of whole grain pepper, but that doesn't make it a dirty secret. Comics are a mainstream interest now, with multi-million dollar movies in the spotlight. Comics are not an under-the-counter phenomenon.
      • by swordgeek (112599) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:16PM (#35453520) Journal

        "I hardly ever talk of my love of whole grain pepper, but that doesn't make it a dirty secret. "

        Yeah sure, keep justifying your perversions to make yourself feel better. Sicko!

      • by boristdog (133725) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:18PM (#35453530)

        Comics may be a mainstream interest now, but if one of the first things I find out about someone is that they are really into comic books, my first reaction is still: "Hopeless Nerd!"

        Then again, if the first thing I find out about them is that they are really into football, I think "Brainless Sports-a-holic!" Even though football is WAY more mainstream than comic books.

        It's human nature.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Thus showing exactly why I tell people I like comic books: I don't need short sight knee jerk reactionary bozos like you in my life.

          IT's not human nature. It's social training and the inability to actually think.

          • I think that life is prior art.

          • by GooberToo (74388) on Friday March 11, 2011 @01:24PM (#35454180)

            Thus showing exactly why I tell people I like comic books: I don't need short sight knee jerk reactionary bozos like you in my life.

            So you're saying your personality can't otherwise compensate for what may be a cushioned negative reaction once someone gets to know you.

            IT's not human nature. It's social training and the inability to actually think.

            It is human nature. There is practically endless studies validating this point exactly. The old cliche, you only get one chance to make a first impression, has been endlessly validated. Your position on the matter is factually incorrect and should hopefully give you pause as to the origin of such incorrect "self discovery."

            Like it or not, within seconds of meeting someone for the first time, consciously and unconsciously you have read the book by its cover. Period. Now then, what you do with that summation will differ from person to person but nonetheless, it absolutely is human nature.

            You see someone with a asymmetrical facial feature, subtract points based on the degree of asymmetry. They don't have perfectly groomed hair? Subtract again. Wear glasses? Subtract again. Bald? Subtract. Teeth? Subtract again. Now the cultural norm will dictate the severity of subtraction (example, teeth in UK vs USA) but nonetheless, its programmed into the DNA of humanity. And as physical characteristics play a major role in this analysis, so does behavior. Someone with a reputation for state sanctioned executions is far less approachable than someone who is a well established lover.

            So honestly, until societal norms change, if in fact they ever do in this regard, its by far to your own advantage to not discuss things like comic books and D&D to people you just met. If in fact you develop a friendship, its far less likely that such disclosure later will have any impact on the relationship other than perhaps some friendly jabs.

            • It is human nature. There is practically endless studies validating this point exactly. The old cliche, you only get one chance to make a first impression, has been endlessly validated.

              This may apply to a majority of the population, but it does not apply to everyone. There may be immense amounts of social conditioning in society, but not everyone is so easily influenced by it.

              Like it or not, within seconds of meeting someone for the first time, consciously and unconsciously you have read the book by its cover. Period.

              Except if that didn't happen.

              So honestly, until societal norms change, if in fact they ever do in this regard, its by far to your own advantage to not discuss things like comic books and D&D to people you just met.

              It's not to your advantage if you wish for such people to not be a part of your life.

              • Yeah I'm real sure you don't judge anyone anywhere. What are you a fucking robot? Delusional thoughts from fantasy island.

                • by geekoid (135745)

                  He is reply to this:
                  "ou have read the book by its cover. Period."

                  read, not judged.

                • You'll never get metal legs, Samantha is fucking Alex......
                • And, even if I did, would that warrant someone making such an absolute generalization? I never mentioned myself.

                  Yeah I'm real sure you don't judge anyone anywhere.

                  I try to find out more about the person before classifying them (which is what we are speaking of).

            • by geekoid (135745)

              "So you're saying your personality can't otherwise compensate for what may be a cushioned negative reaction once someone gets to know you."

              What? I am saying if you are the type of person to react negatively about someone simply because they like comic books, then you are not worth my time.

              "There is practically endless studies validating this point exactly"
              no, there is not.

              "Your position on the matter is factually incorrect "
              No, it is factually correct.

              " within seconds of meeting someone for the first time"
              a

              • by metacell (523607)

                It may be "socially conditioned" of me, but whenever I see an argument like this, I think "hopeless nerds!" :-P

            • by seebs (15766)

              Human nature is not necessarily universal among humans. In particular, some autism spectrum people seem to have a much lower tendency, if any, to judge people either initially or at all. I honestly can't tell you whether I judge people. People who know me inform me that I don't, but since I can't comprehend the descriptions people give of what "judging people" is, I really don't know. It seems to be some kind of... uhm. Thing. Where people stop reacting to an actual stimulus and instead to a pattern o

            • by bkaul01 (619795)

              Teeth? Subtract again.

              I happen to rather like people with teeth, myself.

          • by boristdog (133725)

            Knee-Jerk?

            Tell me, if someone you first meet lets you know how important Jesus is in their life, does your mind not form a "knee-jerk" reaction about that person?
            If they tell you how important Britney Spears is in their life? Or Rush Limbaugh? Or the Dalai Lama?
            If they tell you how they are "really into" heavy metal? Or hip-hop? Or gambling?
            How about someone whom, upon first meeting them, tells you how much they like women with large breasts? Or leather jackets?

            All of these are actually pretty common th

            • Guess what bozo, you have the same knee-jerk reactions to things other people do.

              What was the point of the series of questions if you were just going to fill in the answers for him?

              Unless you are an alien robot

              Or someone who investigates deeper before reaching such idiotic and hasty conclusions.

            • One of the things that makes interesting people interesting is that there are lots of things that are important in their lives, and you find out about these things through extended conversation. The stereotypical "Jesus is everything to me" true believers and "Britney Spears' music changed my life" uberfans are monomaniacs, and monomania is boring. It also tends to reveal itself very quickly, since you can't exchange more than a few words with such people without hearing about their particular obsesssion.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              There is nothing in your example that would make me judge a person on those staements alone.

              IN each one there is obvious conclusions.

              The have a bible, Britney spears songs, and so on.

              No, I don't. At no point have I thought negatively about any people who would not hide anything you mentioned.

              I sure as hell wouldn't judge them as 'Hopeless' anything. There ACTIONS would be what I made judgements on.

              Example:

              "If they tell you how important Britney Spears is in their life?"
              Interesting.
              If they then follow up wit

          • by N1AK (864906)

            I don't need short sight knee jerk reactionary bozos like you in my life.

            Apparently because you've got more than an equal quota all by yourself.

            People make assumptions. You can let that negatively affect you, or you can accept it and be more effective. You can pick whichever option you want, I know I will. I made the mistake of including a 'geeky' hobby on a cv, it stayed there until an interviewee was concerned that I might not be able to handle working in a tough enviroment (one that was certainly e

            • by Unkyjar (1148699)

              I made the mistake of including a 'geeky' hobby on a cv,

              You include your hobbies on your CV? Personally that's a mistake no matter what the hobby is.

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            You mean so that you can make a knee jerk reaction to people who make knee jerk reactions?
          • I don't need short sight knee jerk reactionary bozos like you in my life.

            This.

            Protecting professional interests is one thing; almost everyone has to disguise themselves a little bit for work. If you're lucky, you don't have to disguise yourself very much; e.g., after years in the military and industry, I'm very happy to be in academia now, where I can be more myself on the job than I ever could before. But we all have things we don't talk to our coworkers about, unless they happen to also be genuine friends.

            But socially? If you can't handle my nerdiness, then to hell with you

        • It's perfectly natural, since football and comic books are symbols of the two incompatible phenotypes of human males: "Strong Jock", and "Intelligent Nerd".

          Of course, there is a theory which states if a single man could love both football and comic books he would become an Übermensch.
          And there is another theory which states this has already happened. [wikipedia.org]

        • my first reaction is still: "Hopeless Nerd!"

          Really? My first reaction would be, "okay."

          It's human nature.

          Speak for yourself.

      • I too must confess that my enjoyment of Mexican tarragon in chicken soup is rarely discussed. Will Microsoft attempt to blackmail me with this sizzling secret?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If someone judges me without first meeting me then I would rather not be associated with them.
      Sadly, too many people judge themselves by what others think of them.
      Don't be ashamed or embarrassed, grow some thick skin and enjoy life.
      You only live once!

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        So, your going to judge me and not want to be associated with me without even meeting me?
    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:26PM (#35453624)

      Well, are you sure would really want to tell right away to some girl you meet that you read comic books or watch anime? Things like can make people think about you wrongly. And for example, when I'm visiting Thailand I like the ladyboys there, but it's not something I'd say to anyone when I first meet them.

      Depends on context.

      I'm not going to walk into a job interview and start telling them how much I love Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress, but that doesn't make it a dirty secret.

      If I meet some random person on the street I'm not going to start talking about how much I love the ease of provisioning a new VM in our new cluster, but that doesn't make it a dirty secret.

      And if I met some girl that I was attracted to (as you seem to be suggesting, rather than just some random acquaintance who happens to be female), I most certainly would tell them that I read comic books and watch anime.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Depends on if you're looking to score or if you're looking for a keeper.

    • It takes bravery to say that even in a forum. Surprisingly no-one has insulted you for it.
      • I'm giving him/her the benefit of the doubt and assuming it's talking about regular-ass trannies and not the sex trade since the latter is not only gross but an abomination (no I don't mean in the biblical sense, I mean in the "they enslave children and force them to have sex with tourists who are there to sate their most twisted and lascivious appetites in a place far enough away that they feel safe thinking their consciences will never hear about it" sense), but even so I see no situation where a conversa

    • by digitig (1056110)
      I've met some very cute girls at conventions. It was more a case of telling them which comic books I read and which anime I watch. Mind you, I wasn't trying to pull. Had I been trying to pull in a context like that I'd probably have to claim to write or illustrate the comic books.
    • > Well, are you sure would really want to tell right away to some girl you meet that you read comic books or watch anime? Things like can make people think about you wrongly.

      If at the local japanese manga store, yes. If not, that really depends on where we meet.

      If people are that shallow to judge you based on your honesty and hobbies, they can fuck off. This tactic weeds out all the immature relationships.

      I want authentic relationships - "pretending" to hide my interests because someone doesn't underst

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        There is part of the confusion. Many of the women that would avoid you for being a geek are not doing it because they don't understand what you are. They are avoiding you because they DO understand what you are. This doesn't suggest that you change your way of dealing with them though.
    • If your trying to pick one up here [thechurchdallas.com] it would defiantly be to your advantage. Just please leave the game books in your car, having VtM books in your pants makes you look like a dork even by church goer standards.
    • Well, are you sure would really want to tell right away to some girl you meet that you read comic books or watch anime? Things like can make people think about you wrongly. And for example, when I'm visiting Thailand I like the ladyboys there, but it's not something I'd say to anyone when I first meet them.

      That is something I don't quite understand. I atleast always tell openly about my own interests and hobbies and am interested in hearing the other person's ones, too. If they really dislike my hobbies then it simply means we are not compatible and it's better that it comes out in the beginning already. I'd hate to find out later on that they actually dislike my hobbies.

      If they don't personally have interest in my hobbies but they don't bother them either then all's good. And if we happen to share those inte

    • I've never hid my interests from girls I've dated. That's completely counterproductive and is likely to lead to a bad relationship later. (For the record, my wife likes anime more than I do, and that was never a secret either.)

      As for socially embarrassing paraphilias, that's why there is already code for that sort of thing. I will not say straight up to people (other than extremely close friends) "I like ladyboys!" However, even with people I don't know all that well I might drop a reference to, say, "fut
    • by morari (1080535)

      [...] when I'm visiting Thailand I like the ladyboys there [...]

      Yes, please! :)

  • And I deem... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao.hotmail@com> on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:09PM (#35453424) Homepage

    And I deem patents shameful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:11PM (#35453454)

    The title of this article is pretty sensational, and hides the true idea behind the patent.

    The patent isn't saying comic books (and other fringe interests) are "shameful", it's saying that if you are putting yourself out there in some way, like a resume or a dating site, fringe interests aren't going to be the first things you list.

    For example I used to do a college radio show on Japanese noise rock, it's cool, but if I tell most people about right off the bat, I get a blank look.

    • See, I'm one of those kind of people that would say, "Cool! Tell me about it!" I wouldn't have much interest in something called "noise rock", although I have a couple of items in my music collection that might qualify (thanks eMusic!).

      I have little patience for people who react negatively to strangeness. I don't lead with my interests, which are also generally esoteric, but I don't go out of my way to hide them either. Besides, more often than you would expect, you find someone who recognizes or at lea

    • by tixxit (1107127)
      Further, the point about expectations is important. Slashdot of all places should realize the value in not sharing with everyone that you're a computer nerd, lest they start requesting your help/input every time their computer goes bonkers. The same can go with homework or car troubles.
    • by Seumas (6865)

      Of course the fringe things are going to be among the first that you list.

      People are always so fucking infatuated with themselves that they can't wait to tell you about all the things they're into that you've probably never heard of. The fact that it's fringe and you haven't heard of it convinces them that they're just that much cooler.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:13PM (#35453482)

    I used to have a big interest in the paranormal... I would never have listed it in a dating profile, but would have been interested in other people who were also into it. Now, not sure I like the label of "shameful"... but it was something I didn't want to just blurt out.

    • Well, it's something that's easy to prejudge wrong because "interest in the paranormal" could mean a reader of the "Skeptical Inquirer" type of person who is genuinely interested in the fact that there are a lot of weird things we can't explain (at least yet) or an idiot who falls for "psychics" and astrology and all the other superstitious nonsense associated with "the paranormal".

  • ...where The Real Housewives of xyz and River Dance end up on the 'Fringe Interests' list, because there's no way in Hell people would admit to either of those of a first date.
    • ...where The Real Housewives of xyz and River Dance end up on the 'Fringe Interests' list, because there's no way in Hell people would admit to either of those of a first date.

      I once had a first date with a woman who admitted that she believed that David Koresh was the Second Coming. People will admit all kinds of weird shit on a first date. Of course, after hearing that I called for the check, paid up, and walked out.

  • Oh this is nice.

    This time it's a list of legal but less than popular snips of data we can attach to a person's profile!

    Then one of a couple of options results:
    A. Pwned security breach and it hits the wild
    B. Given to agencies to threaten people with if they get out of line.

  • Ishihara and TBS would love this in their crusade against otaku and anime fans.

  • by pifactorial (1000403) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:25PM (#35453612)
    I get the humorous Microsoft-bashing potential of this, but... I think they're actually thinking along the right lines here. It's not news anymore that any sort of public profile on the internet can land you in trouble with an employer. Certain categories of online services (e.g. dating services) depend on a person being willing to divulge potentially embarrassing information about themselves. People will continue to want to take advantage of these services, but given the opportunity to avoid embarrassing yourself in front of potential employers / friends / etc., I think one would choose the option of having this sort of information kept secret.

    But haha, yes, comic books are taboo. Scott McCloud would have some choice words.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:29PM (#35453660) Journal
    The patent doesn't seem particularly terrible on comparison with a lot of the ones we've seen. The example given is clearly chosen to be as inoffensive as possible whilst still being something that someone might plausibly want to keep to themselves.

    So, I guess the story is "Microsoft is evil, patents are also evil, here's something that's potentially mildly offensive to easily offended comic book fans so this proves they're evil"
  • And Trollertron3k Deems Submitter Retarded!

    Don't you guys realize we'd read the stories without your hype? For the love of God can we get an accurate headline this week?

  • I see no reason at all why an ambitious professional should hide a passion for comic books. Does anyone see any problem at all? I don't.

    • The problem is that a lot of uptight boring people work in HR who are looking for any reason to eliminate you as a candidate. This includes things that make you look like a weirdo (boring people don't like weirdos) or thrill seeker (potentially bad for medical insurance and your attendance).

      The hobbies you're allowed to have are:

      -Gardening
      -Playing a musical instrument that doesn't require electricity
      -Singing
      -Cycling (of the road or ride-around-the-park variety, definitely no BMX or MTB riding!)
      -Any ball spo

    • by seebs (15766)

      I don't know. I have a coworker who likes comic books, and I may have others. Also, we have an entire IRC channel for people who like computer games, though only a few people are usually active in it. :)

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      No, but I have known many people who would. It is also no more 'geeky' than MS is already perceived, so they don't risk hurting their image. Where as if they had used 'Furries' in their example, MS would have been accuessed of promoting perversion. Irrelvant of the fact that it is standard fair in TV and movies. Case in point:
      Over $900 Million in gross revenue:
      http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=shrek2.htm [boxofficemojo.com]

      for this this 'Furry' sex:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfPYB9HU-ys [youtube.com]
  • by UdoKeir (239957) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:35PM (#35453720)
    By day he's mild-mannered executive Steve Balmer, but at night he dons his monkey suit and becomes CHAIR MAN! Promising to "f--ing bury that guy" (he's done it before), he guards the streets of Redmond from free software.
  • We just made our own dating site [pounced.org]. Problem solved!
  • I think the idea is a bit of innuendo. 'Comic books' sounds better than a shared love of roleplaying Hannah Barbera characters covered with mustard on a waterbed with Orson Welles films playing on a projector. Even within comic books, there may be certain comics that are less socially acceptable than Marvel and DC. However, even if one accepts this as the kind of thing that could possibly get a patent, various conventions and internet forums, where one can escape from the people that know them personally
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Mustard?!? You perv!!! Normal people use chocolate!

      And as far as Alice likes Bob, what's to keep Bob from simply clicking on everyone in the vain hope that somebody likes him?
  • by Ghostworks (991012) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:56PM (#35453906)

    Lawyer: "So why did we originally create this feature?"
    Engineer: "Porn. Mostly the kinky stuff. Tranvestites, golden showers, that sort of thing."
    Lawyer: "We can't use 'defense of transvestite porn' in a patent,"
    Engineer: "Why not? It's why we made it."
    Lawyer: "Yeah, but every patent is also a public document, which means it's a potential PR nightmare. Do you want to see 'Patent Protects Porn' on Slashdot?"
    Engineer: "Actually..."
    Lawyer: "Forget it. Just come up with something normal people would find both a harmless interest and somehow secretly shameful. Mainstream fringe."
    Engineer: "...."
    Lawyer: "Never mind, we'll think of something."

  • I can't imagine that they'd say in a patent application "people who are interested in alternate sexuality", or "people who were abused as children", or "people who belong to a religion other than Christian who live in the Bible Belt (aka the Christian terrorist homeland)"

                      mark

    • by PPH (736903)

      Good point.

      But consider this: Microsoft needs the services of just such 'out of the box thinking' creative employees in order to survive. It would seem strange on the surface to see Microsoft develop and patent a method for identifying such people to their employers. But Microsoft has been attacked [wikipedia.org] in the past for its support and defense of just such people. So perhaps they are patenting something in order to keep its use out of the hands of conservative interest groups know for the use of just such tools [progressivepatriots.com].

  • Surely MSFT HR will want to know who these weirdos are and if you have to lose a few oddball programming or creative types you're better off without 'em.

  • Don't trust anybody who wants to collect data on your secrets that "might be a source of shame and embarrassment", regardless of what purpose they claim for collecting this data. Why should people be eager to provide others with the means to blackmail them?

    Alternatively, you could use the Jesse Ventura approach -- record every embarrassing thing you've ever done and publish it to make sure it is already public knowledge and move on.
  • So all I need to do is create a fictional person that is into every perverse preoccupation possible, then type in the names of all my enemies to see who he gets matched up with, and voila -- I've got plenty of blackmail material! Sweet! I wonder how much CmdrTaco will pay to keep others from finding out about his midget porn obsession?
  • Well, shouldn't we try if interest in comics or such is a positive or a negative thing, as Microsoft is claiming here.

    I'm 28 year old female, I love learning and experiencing new stuff, delight myself in meaningful conversations, play videogames on a daily basis and I am a manga-buff and really enjoy me some quality anime.

    Now, how many people here would be put off by the last part of the above sentence? ;)

  • I secretly like reading the X-Men comics. There I am out of the closet. Oh, the shame, the shame of it all.

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