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Will the real kid blogger, please stand up?

As I pointed out a few days back, there’s been a ruckus over at Noemi’s blog about the identity, ownership and authorship of the blog used to run by a 13-year old kid (he’s 14 now).

I have to be frank and say I initially believed it was really a 13-year old boy who created his own blog and wrote all those posts. First time I heard of him was thru the popular blogs of Darren Rowse and John Chow. I was proud to see a grassroots Filipino blogger succeed in blogging and at a very young age.

Nevertheless, a cloud of suspicion and curiosity looms on all those we see as “too good to be true“.

I wanted to personally meet this kid, talk to him and get more inspiration for myself. I even mentioned him in some of my recent talks. Set aside the writing style, I thought his enthusiasm in blogging and making money online reflects his very young age.

However, all that has change now that every other blogger is calling him (or his dad) out.

Noemi started out the conversation:

Responsible bloggers recognize that they are publishing words for everyone to read. Does it follow that they have certain ethical obligations to their readers, the people they write about, and society in general ? The blog’s greatest strength, particularly its uncensored and uncontrolled voice, is deemed its greatest weakness. Most bloggers are against anything that constrain their freedom. But most bloggers also know that The blogosphere runs on customs and norms – on what the community feels is acceptable…

BA Racoma says:

What’s so cool and disturbing about Web2.0 is that it’s sooooooo easy to fake your identity. That’s why I use my real nickname and last name in the blogosphere, so as not to lose my identity when I read and comment on other blogs.

Andrew adds:

We see something that’s so blatantly wrong but have no guts to acknowledge it. But I guess that can be attributed to the fact that this grand scheme of deception involves a minor, a teenager, a boy who’s basically just coming to grips with himself. When and if his cover is blown by the blogosphere and, God forbid, the media, only he will end up as the major casualty.

Several months ago, someone told me that the author of the kid’s blog wasn’t the kid but the father. I thought it made sense, considering the marketing background of the dad as I was told. I said to myself, “wow sneaky marketing campaign, nice…”. But for the record, there has been no irrefutable evidence that these allegations are true.

This wasn’t new. We’ve read or heard about those Walmart bloggers and YouTube’s phenomenal lonelygirl15. While some failed miserably, others like lonelygirl15 were rewarded even more.

So what makes this one any different? I think it’s because it was closer to home. We have a prodigy blogger in our midst. Bloggers admired the kid and were proud of him only to be disappointed after finally meeting him and talking to him about the subject he’s so passionate about. The inspiration fizzled and we thought we’ve been had. Some of us are not immune to issues of disclosure, transparency and openness to conversation.

But that’s just one side of the story. What about the kid’s story? Well, it’s up to him (or his dad) to stand up to the occasion. Write their story and be heard. That’s what blogging is all about.

Accustomed to the veneer of noise, to the shibboleths of promotion, public relations, and market research, society is suspicious of those who value silence. ~John Lahr

Update:

Dine Racoma shares her take on the issue: If Your Son is Attacked, Defend Him Fast, If You Must

Manuel Viloria does his own investigation: Carl Ocab’s Ghostwriter

More Update:

Spoke to the father, Allan Ocab, on the phone. Will meet with both of them later today so I can independently verify/nullify these allegations. Carl is prepared to take the test/interview to authenticate his authorship of the blog.


Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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51 Responses

  1. Hi Yuga,

    I’m glad you heared about this.

    I know being unique would always draw controversy, like what you said above about lonelygirl15 and the walmart bloggers.

    If you have time, we could meet this afternoon (After school :) ) just to clarify things.

    Tell me what you think.

    Thanks
    Carl Ocab

  2. The Ca t says:

    My study about the profile of bloggers includes the year when the blog which was not called blog then was started.

    http://cathcath.com/?cat=41

    There is a table in that page which shows that there was one blogger in 1996. When I checked the age of the blogger at the time of the study, she has just celebrated her 18th birthday. That was 2005. So when she was blogging in 1996, she was nine years old then? Believe me, I read her blogs several times.

    But her grammar was almost perfect for a nine year old.

    When the mother surfaced to blog years after, the mystery was solved.

    I won’t name names. I do not want to embarrass people.

  3. yuga says:

    Hi carl,

    I have a 4PM appointment. Maybe after that? Just text me when and where we can meet later (between Makati and Mandaluyong pref.).

  4. yuga says:

    The Ca t,

    I personally know both, and I can tell you the kid grew up to be a kick-ass writer. She works as one right now. :)

  5. Eugene says:

    Don’t forget the Kaycee Nicole story back in 2001.

  6. Ederic says:

    Uy, mini-EB. Pwede bang makiusyoso sa inyo? Kaya lang after 7pm pa ako available. :p

  7. jepoy says:

    sama kami ni ederic.. mga usi lang :P

  8. jepoy says:

    btw, have they changed school schedules? When I was 14, our school time is from 7am to 430pm… posting blog comments at 1030am? :~)

  9. Hari Skwatir says:

    ‘kala ko sa TV lang nauuso yung showbiz. pati sa web din pala.

  10. ba says:

    He replies at 10:30 am. Hmmm. Shouldn’t he be in school?

  11. jepoy says:

    @ba – baka may laptop with school wifi or 3G phone :~)

  12. Dexter says:

    I hope Carlo can clarify this things with Abe and Abe can post his update after his conversation with Carlo..

  13. ba says:

    @jepoy Wala akong ganun nung 14 years old ako. :( Waaaah. *rants*

  14. Conn says:

    @Jepoy

    I think you’re raising suspicions unnecessarily.

    When I was in high school (and this was like, 7 or 8 years ago!), we already had a open computer science lab where students can surf the net whenever. Our library too, has internet-ready computers.

    While I concede that this is atypical for the average school back then, I would imagine that it’s not uncommon for schools now to have this.

  15. Conn says:

    (Note about my last post: That was in response to Jepoy’s second post). :)

  16. This issue is causing quite a buzz in the Pinoy blogosphere nowadays. I’m really eager to know what Carl would say in his defense.

  17. jayvee f. says:

    i just hope carl doesn’t get too affected by this pressure. i sincerely think that scrutiny to this level should not be pulled on a 13 (or 14) year old.

  18. Ederic says:

    Noong around 13 years old ako–sabi ko nga sa Twitter–nagtitinda lang ako ng talbos ng kamote para magkapera. Nagsisimula pa lang ang Internet sa Pilipinas noon, hehe.

    Tuloy ba ang kitaan n’yo, Abe?

  19. ernesto says:

    I actually go to the carlocab site I think he is genius

  20. Sidney says:

    Abe, for me it is clear. YOU are Carl Ocab!
    Not that I want to compare you to a 14 year old boy but he knows almost as much as you…
    If it is not you, you might need to consider retirement ;-)

  21. Jaypee says:

    It would be good to clear this issue once and for all so that all suspicions and allegations would be put to rest.

    I have one question though. What happens after you (Abe) meet with them and find what the truth really is. What happens next?

  22. ManuelV says:

    What happens next? Eh di… Abangan… :-)

    Ria Jose tweets an apt observation.

  23. Conn says:

    Been reading the posts and comments (not necessarily from this blog) regarding this whole controversy and my observation is that some peoples’ logic roughly fall along the lines of:

    1) “I don’t write like that when I was 13, therefore, a 13-year old could not have written those posts.”
    2) “I was not interested in “grown-up” stuff when I was 13, therefore a 13 year old could not have been interested in them too.”
    3) “The posts do not “sound” like they’ve been written by a 13-year old, therefore they could not have been written by a 13-year old.”
    4) “If the kid can express himself using the written word, then the kid should have also been able to express himself verbally.”
    5) “The father works in the same industry: the industry seems too complicated for a 13 year old; therefore the father wrote those posts.”

    Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but what I’m concerned about is that certain speculations are being taken my many as fact.

    Heavy words are being lightly thrown: father is greedy, kid is being used, father is a scammer, kid has no life, father pressured the kid, kid is scarred for life…

    I feel for the kid. When I was a kid, I, too, have been accused of having someone else do my project or homework just because what I’ve done is too “sophisticated” to be that of a kid.

    Anyway, I am reserving my judgement and leaving room for doubt. Just playing devil’s advocate here and putting in some ideas to provoke thought. :)

  24. es-i-ow says:

    He might be a kid but remember that the UP (Diliman) Valedictorian for the previous school year was only 16 years old. I am not saying that he is what he claims to be. I am just pointing out that it is possible.

    Remember the teenager CEOs from India?

  25. Aaron says:

    I’ll reserve my judgment on this one. I mean, when I was 14/15 I already had ideas of placing adsense ads on my blog and monetizing it, so it isn’t impossible.

  26. Aaron says:

    with regards to carl ocab having his dad as ghost writer, it isn’t impossible either

  27. benj says:

    this has gotten out of hand.

    My take is short and sweet. If you think a blog is fraudulent, don’t visit it. End of discussion.

  28. JM says:

    Conn is right. You should not underestimate the kid. She raised some pretty good points. Does it mean that because we couldn’t have done it when we were teenagers nobody in that age would’ve been able to do it? That’s somehow… pathetic, to say the least.

    But the dissenters raised some pretty valid points.

    And, I’d like to attest to Conn’s #4:
    4) “If the kid can express himself using the written word, then the kid should have also been able to express himself verbally.”

    I’m a living testament. I’m the most blabbermouth person there is when it comes to writing, but I just as easily fold up when speaking verbally, ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF PEOPLE I’M MEETING FOR THE FIRST TIME.

    Give the kid the benefit of the doubt. The truth shall come out sooner or later, if there’s such a truth that needs to come out.

    Just my two cents. ;)

  29. BrianB says:

    Carl Ocab,

    This kid writes like an English teacher. He should be on Korina Sanchez or something. I don’t mind if a kid is better than me on designing sites (I don’t even know html), but he can can actually write perfect English with a few “intentional” colloquialism here and there. I’ve heard of eleven year olds write magnificent epic poems, but the controlled language on this one just ain’t believable for a 13-year-old.

    Example:

    “I’ve said it once, and here it is again. An advertising page is like the sales letter of a product. Some sales talk will help the conversion stretch [a little] more. Keep in mind these important aspects of an about page…”

    And I cannot imagine a kid using parenthesis like this. Not ever.

    “Most blogs (popular ones) use contracts when selling their advertising spots. For example, if you want to advertise in someblogidontknow.com they will set a contract (let’s say 2 months) for how long the advertiser will stay and will pay…”

    My two cents. Nah, fake, fake, fake.

  30. BrianB says:

    Guys,

    Finally read the other comments. A 13-year-old could think up of monetizing blogs, even more than that. A 13-year-old could be running a very popular adult TGP site and be making hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is not the point. analyze the English. If he’s writing Wordsworthian poetry, I’d be inclined to believe he is as old as he says he say. If he’s writing in prose with the lyrical quality of Edgar Allan Poe’s I’d still be inclined to believe or at least be open to him being 13.

    But dudes and dudettes, this kid’s English is technical, studied, educated. This writer is trained. He’s no virtuoso. HE IS A TRAINED WRITER. Trained, trained, trained, trained, trained, trained, trained, etc., etc., Look, I can write like a 13-year-old. It’s easy but a 13-year-old writing like my no-talent English professor?

  31. BrianB says:

    Conn,

    If only everybody can truly “reserve [his] judgment” as you said, we’d all be criminals. Don’t reject what a million or so years of human evolution has taught us. We judge others to survive. ‘Tis always been thus…

    Now, being judgmental, judging those who mind their own business, do not cause harm, do not misinform, disinform, etc. is something else altogether.

    This Carl Ocab is too obvious not to call.

  32. dimaks says:

    I might need a bit of enlightenment on this particular issue but I don’t really get it on what’s the real push on knowing whether the kid can really that well or not. Had he been able to put anyone here into manifest disadvantage, danger and loss? Given that his blog offers a pool of blogging tips and online earning?

    For me, if I think that this kid can write and make sense that deep, then i would be happy to emulate his writing skills and perhaps would love to know some of his strategies. Giving the benefit of the doubt, he could have gotten technical advices and editing from someone more knowledgeable and versatile than he is.

  33. The Ca t says:

    I personally know both, and I can tell you the kid grew up to be a kick-ass writer. She works as one right now. :)

    Oh yeah, nothing has changed since she was blogging at age 10 except her blogs these days are longer.

    I am not pointing to anybody because when you point

    with your index finger, the other fingers point back to you.

  34. rhodora says:

    When my daughter was in fourth year high school last year (she is now freshman college), her school updated its computer facilities, so much so that their computer lab was equipped with 45 units, hence a 1:1 computer per student ratio. All units are internet connected.

    So it’s not impossible that Carl could post comment here during class hours.

    Let’s give the boy the benefit of the doubt. Malay natin, talagang geek siya since early childhood. May mga child prodigy naman talaga, di ba? We marvel at those Promil kids having exceptional talents in music, arts and sciences. Why not in technology? Maybe the father is a geek, and has trained his son very early on. Although I also have reservations that he could possibly do all of the entries on his own. First of all, blogging is very time consuming. Paano na kaya siya nag-aaral? O naglalaro?

    But let us not condemn/judge father and son. Let’s give them the chance to straighten things out. If indeed it is a father-son tandem, then all they have to do is admit. After all, we Pinoys can easily forgive and forget. :)

  35. The Ca t says:

    So it’s not impossible that Carl could post comment here during class hours.

    I can edit my time stamp.

  36. BrianB says:

    “Oh yeah, nothing has changed since she was blogging at age 10 except her blogs these days are longer.”

    Cat, she’s very Adult now.

  37. Well, it looks like a PET BLOG to me. You know, ‘yung AMO ang nagsusulat on HIS PET’s behalf.

  38. j4s0n says:

    My question is, why does everyone care to care too much?

    I have chatted w/ Carl a few times w/ him asking me some help to setup one of his sites. I felt impressed of how he was easily able to follow my instructions. Cmon, give the kid a break. For me whatever’s going on around about him and what he’s doing sounds possible.

  39. mikko says:

    Mahirap talaga kung extraordinary ang galing. Pinagdududahan. ;D

  40. Mimi says:

    I just randomly came across this page; even though it’s been a long time since you posted about the issue, I’d like to add something.
    When I was 13 years old I wrote an essay for my American History class, and received a D for it. Why? Because my teacher passed judgment on me the way you are passing judgment on this boy. She read my work and assumed that it didn’t “sound” like a 13 year-old’s work, and so it must have been plagiarized. That incident really hurt me.

    Some people are just natural writers. They have a good command of the written word. And it’s also possible that these same people can’t express themselves verbally as well or as eloquently as they can on paper. I know, because that’s exactly how I am.
    I haven’t even read this kid’s blog and yet from the excerpts everyone has provided, I’m not convinced of any of your suspicions! Children are incredibly smart, perceptive and capable of so many things, beyond what you imagine. Once they are interested in something, they pour so much effort into it. I’m sure Carl is an excellent writer because he writes very often…and I’m sure he knows a lot about “grown-up” issues through regular reading and contact with other intelligent people.

    There’s so much I can say to defend this kid, but hopefully the entire thing has already blown over by now. :)

  41. Maruel says:

    Siya po ba yung may blog na blue and white ang theme before? Para kasing nakita ko na yung blog niya before, hindi ko lang matadaan, hehe! :D

  42. bakit ba? says:

    insecure lng kayo… 13 years old o hindi, sya ang nagsusulat o hindi, bsta nakakatulong mga posts nya and informative, d na kailangan png gawing issue yan

  43. neo says:

    was this mystery ever solved?

  44. neo says:

    btw i think its also possible for any kid (not carlo) to make a nice post via wp-robot and a couple of article rewriters out there. or, they have this idea and they ask an older person to write it for them – see, they are after the “key” words. (search engine optimized)

  45. John says:

    Quite a debate.

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