After Reddit’s attempt to find the Boston Marathon bombers turned into a major failure (for which Reddit’s general manager Erik Martin publicly apologized Monday), the over-all conclusion seems to be that the whole experiment was misguided from the start, and that the Redditors’ inability to identify the Tsarnaev brothers demonstrates the futility of using an online crowd of amateur sleuths to help with a criminal investigation. Or, as the Times’s Nick Bilton put it, “It looks as if the theory of the ‘wisdom of crowds’ doesn’t apply to terrorist manhunts.” That proposition may be true. But Reddit’s failure isn’t evidence for it.
Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, “I got mugged by a bunch of Boston hooligans. Readers of Boing Boing may be familiar with my FedFlix project which has resulted in 6,000 government videos getting posted to YouTube and the Internet Archive.”
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