Balloon Boy: When the Net is full of hot air

You may not have noticed, but several important things happened in the country late last week. I don't know what they were either, because I was too busy following the Balloon Boy saga.

This is the latest example of how 24/7 cable news networks and the Web can conspire to create a laserlike focus on one thing, regardless of its actual importance. And the problem only seems to be getting worse.

[ Check out Eric Knorr's take on the celebrity keyword-fest and , in InfoWorld's Modernizing IT blog. ]

How obsessed were people with Balloon Boy? At one point last Thursday, had something to do with the Heene family and/or runaway helium balloons. Within hours someone called ?, which has now clocked more than 28,000 hits. As I write this, some three days later, on Twitter.

A Cringester who works in an international finance firm shared the following online chat session from last Thursday. Though he was not a participant -- he says it was a coworker -- he swears it's completely accurate (however, I did obscure the real name of his colleague to protect his privacy, and I cleaned up some typos).

15:21:09 BLOOMBERG HELP DESK : hello