i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Isabella - A Flight Risk for the Masses

October 29, 2004

“Meme (pron. meem): A contagious information pattern that replicates by parasitically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern. (Term coined by Dawkins, by analogy with "gene".) Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic.”

”What is a meme?” F.A.Q.

Blog culture is an excellent source of meme action these days. One person might post, say, an interesting entry about squirrels and suddenly, BAM!, it’s squirrels-this and squirrels-that. The idea of squirrel-loving has replicated and infected human minds so that the idea is spread throughout the world.

In the blog culture at large, there have been several examples of a blog that has gained immense popularity until it has finally become a bit of a blog cultural icon. An example of this is the case of Isabella author of she’s a flight risk. This blog, which has jumped a few times from server to server is the tale of Isabella, heiress for a foreign throne, a twentysomething international fugitive who doesn't want to go through with the marriage being arranged by her family.

It all started here on March 2003. Two months later, She’s a flight risk was one of the most popular blogs listed on Popdex, the website popularity index, for the entire month of May 2003.

There were many questions about this blog as it rose in popularity. People wanted to know if Isabella was real, and if so, who the heck was she? Independent members of the media did research to find out what the could find out. Eventually, even giant book publisher Simon and Schuster wanted to find Isabella so they could sign her for a book.

"She's not likely to give up much herself either. 'Either she or someone helping her is rather clever. She's very careful about leaving traces of herself behind,' according to a network security expert who asked to remain anonymous. 'In addition to the encrypted email, some of the techniques she's using to get to her blog are pretty advanced. She seems to know what she's doing, or to have someone who knows what they are doing helping her. It is pretty clear that she's sent emails from more than one country. More than that I can't say.'"

The Agonist Covers Fight Risk

This post on The Agonist actually caused some problems for the site and the author Sean-Paul who ran into legal problems from Isabella's family.


Even Wired picked up the story: Blogger: Catch Me If You Can

"A mysterious weblog purporting to be the journal of an anonymous heiress on the run from her wealthy family appears to be a hoax. But the site and offline elements supporting it are so elaborate and so well executed that many bloggers suspect the whole thing just might be true. "


Mark Bernstein describes Isabella's blog as "a new media thriller unfolding in real time." He continues, "That's a very clever idea." When Bergstein wrote about Isabella in May 2003, he believed that the blog was simply "an entirely new literary genre." He said Isabella was the ideal star of such a story because she was rich, which gave her options and also prevented the ordinary person from going looking for her in case her bigwhig daddy decided to put the smack down.

Mark Bernstein's Thoughts on Isabella

Some people suspected Isabella of having some sort of scam to gain money in mind when she started the blog. The community remembered Kaycee Nicole. But, as Mark Bernstein pointed out, Isabella was a heiress. She didn't need anyone else's money. Even Isabella commented on the idea:

"Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the big publicity stunt to be revealed. What product is it that this elaborate hoax is generating publicity for? I have no idea. I'm not selling anything. .... I have no idea what my accounts here would be any good at selling? Deodorant? Legal services? You tell me."


Maybe it doesn't matter if the blog is true or not. The story is fascinating and taps into a common fantasy: the urge to run away from one's life and establish a new life in a new location. I'm sure a big part of the reason this blog took off so amazingly well is because of the fantasy that the story taps in our minds. Who hasn't wanted to rush off, leaving behind all of her problems and worries, in order to just start over? People are rooting for Isabella, man! If the story is true, we want Isabella to be the victor of the battle. And if it isn't? Well, she still tells a damn good story!


Start Here

She's A Flight Risk - This is the most updated version of the blog. The blog is still being updated and -still- remains a bit of a mystery.

Moira at 09:57 AM :: Comments (0) :: « :: »
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