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Wisconsin recall webcam: In this surprise hit, viewers write plot

January 20, 2012 | 12:26 pm

Frame grab from Wisconsin recall webcam
Wisconsin bureaucrats -- and the recall effort to which they’re devoted -- make for surprisingly compelling video. Tens of thousands of viewers have tuned in to watch via webcam this week as state employees count petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans.

Workers with the Government Accountability Board -- which of course has its own blog -- are in the midst of sifting and scanning more than 1.9 million recall signatures submitted Tuesday. That amounts to three tons of paper.

Because of intense public interest in the proceedings (held at an undisclosed location), a webcam was set up to allow public monitoring -- but without the potential security problems of full public access.

Now the soundless webcam has developed a following of sorts, with devotees popping up on its Twitter account to nickname the anonymous petition counters and invent fictitious subplots to enliven the proceedings.

First, the nameless stars were nicknamed: "Sideburns," ''White Glasses" and "Flirty von Flirtenheimer."

Then came the intrigue. Among the Tweets:

"Flirty goes over to Sideburns' computer, only to find he scanned in a drawing of them riding a dolphin together that he drew."

"Looks like sideburns and flirty were just warned about inter office romance."

"Conflict arises when Sideburns realizes his sideburns signed a recall petition without his knowledge."

"Things still a little icy between Sideburns and Flirty so far today. He might need to cast his net a little wider."

"Sideburns probably told her that his estranged wife came back and threatened to ruin the recall with scandal if he didn't go with her."

Many viewers were further inspired Thursday when the webcam was adjusted to provide a fuller view of the eight computers and four folding tables in a windowless room with cinder-block walls.

By Friday, the recall mockery had reached fever pitch.

"Each recall volunteer was quickly assigned the personalities that the raw feed simply could not provide, ranging from the klutzy petition dropper to the boring guy obsessed with falconry to the pervy dude busted for having a staring contest with his co-worker’s rack," blogged Mark Riechers at A.V. Club Madison. "If you too would like to be mocked via the Internet for the amusement of the public, remember that the GAB is still looking for contestants, err, volunteers."

By Thursday afternoon, the webcam -- provided for free by 5Nines.com of Madison -- had logged 29,308 visitors, officials told the Associated Press.

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Photo: A frame grab from a webcam put up by the Government Accountability Board shows Wisconsin state workers in Madison processing about 1.9 million petition signatures to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans from office. Exciting stuff, right? Wrong. That's why viewers have begun making up their own plots. Credit: Government Accountability Board

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