2006-07-14 :: Kevin Murphy
A couple of years ago, I tried to figure out who was running Free2Innovate.net. A lot of people assumed the blogger, who calls himself Steven Forrest, was on VeriSign’s payroll, because he invariably spouts VeriSign’s party line and many people cannot believe any right-minded person would do so unless he was being paid for it.
I emailed him. I can’t remember what I said, but when he replied, he signed it “Bill”.
I Googled for the terms “free2innovate” and “bill” and found this web site: BillHobbs.com. Bill Hobbs is a right-wing political blogger. He’d linked to Free2Innovate at some point.
On Hobbs’ “About The Editor” page, he says this:
I am self-employed and work in media relations and also consult with large corporations on the use of weblogs as public relations tools, after having worked for more than a decade in journalism.
I am currently accepting freelance writing, editing and online research assignments as well as requests for consulting on blogs for corporations, political candidates and organizations, and media/marketing/public relations firms.
I was pretty certain I’d found my man.
So I emailed Forrest and asked him if he was in fact Bill Hobbs. He said he was not, but said that he knew Hobbs. He further denied that he was being paid by VeriSign for Free2Innovate.
So I printed out the email, including the headers. The originating domain was something like XXXXXXXXXXXX.nash01.tn.comcast.net, where the X’s were a unique string of characters.
Clearly, Forrest lives in Nashville, Tennessee, same as Hobbs.
Later that day, or maybe a day or two later, I emailed Bill Hobbs from my girlfriend’s computer.
Hobbs had a bicycling blog at the time.
I was a little drunk, so for giggles I put myself in the persona of some snot-nosed Californian xxxtreem sports biking teenage punk. I think the name I used was “Shimano Ninja”. I expressed my awe at his blog and asked his advice how I could set up a similar web page.
He replied, of course.
And the email headers matched. To the best of my knowledge, Bill Hobbs, who blogs for corporate money, sends emails from the same cable modem as Steven Forrest, who fellates VeriSign on a daily basis.
I’m not 100% certain they’re the same guy, of course. All I know is that a) Forrest signs his emails “Bill”, b) he says he knows Hobbs, c) they have the same ISP, d) they live in the same town, e) when they send emails, the headers match perfectly.
That makes me like 99% certain.
I have no evidence that he’s being paid by anybody for Free2Innovate.
I’m bringing this up now for two key reasons.
1) Steven told me his day job could be in jeopardy if his identity was revealed. Bill Hobbs now says he is self-employed, whereas back then he worked at a university. So if they’re the same person, no harm done. If they’re not the same person, no harm done.
2) I’m bored of his bullshit.