Boing Boing 

31 communities vow to create local gigabit broadband

Across the US, 31 communities have joined forces to make the dream of fast, affordable, and reliable gigabit-speed broadband a local reality. The Next Century Cities program, launched this week, hopes to defeat the forces holding broadband back. The 31 inaugural signatories are:

Read the rest

My City Garden: Boston-area yard-sharing service for urban gardeners

Gmoke writes, "My City Gardens is up and running for the season. We're a local yard sharing website that connects gardeners, mentors, and people with access to space, to neighbors who want to roll up their sleeves and dig in. If you have extra space in your yard you'd like help cultivating, need a gardening plot this summer or are willing to lend gardening advise to your neighbors, please sign up!"

Read the rest

Kickstarting Danger! Awesome, a hackerspace in Cambridge, Mass

Amanda writes, "Danger!awesome is an open-access laser cutting, laser engraving, and 3D printing workshop in the heart of Cambridge, tucked right between MIT and Harvard. Our mission is to democratize access and training to rapid prototyping resources, long reserved for academic institutions and multi-million dollar R&D labs. We want to teach anyone and everyone how to make, customize, and invent.

Read the rest

Former FCC Chairman: Let's Test an Emergency Ad Hoc Network in Boston

Jonathan Zittrain writes, "Ad hoc mesh networking has been developed to enable free and censorship-resistant communications in places like Egypt and Syria. (The New America Foundation's Commotion project is an example of that kind of network.) Less explored has been this kind of networking for public safety purposes, such during attacks or natural disasters. In this article, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and I explain why it'd be a good idea to develop these kinds of networks, and sketch out how they might work."

Former FCC Chairman: Let’s Test an Emergency Ad Hoc Network in Boston

An infographic exploring what we think we know about Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev

New from Chartgirl: "Tamerlan Tsarnaev: What We Think We Know About Who Knew What and When."

Boston troopers recount aerial spotting of bombing suspect in boat

“We were there like that. We do this day in, day out. This is what we do. We went over and when I put that [infrared camera] on the boat, I was actually shocked that not only did I see there was a heat source, but I got a perfect human silhouette. That doesn’t happen that much.” Read more at the Boston Globe.

Student wrongly linked to Boston bombings (by Reddit users) found dead

The body of 22-year-old Sunil Tripathi was "pulled from the water off India Point Park in Rhode Island," reports USA Today. Sunil was the student mistakenly linked to the Boston bombings by users on Reddit. "It was not immediately clear when Tripathi, who was last seen March 15, died," nor has a cause of death been determined.

In defense of Reddit (with regard to the Boston bombing, and crowdsourced sleuthing)

"Law enforcement agencies regularly turn to sites like Websleuths.com to help crack cold cases. Maybe there’s hope for Reddit," writes Tim Murphy in a piece at Mother Jones.
Redditors have, for years, worked to use the resources of crowds as a force for good. There's an entire subreddit dedicated to Redditors ordering pizzas for families and raising money for surgeries. But Boston represents a reality check. Can Reddit harness its greatest asset—the tireless brainstorming of millions—while reining in the speculative impulse that makes the site tick? And even if Reddit could solve crimes, would it be worth it?

A profile of the person behind the Boston Police Twitter account

HuffPo profiles Cheryl Fiandaca, the bureau chief of public information for the Boston police department, a former attorney and television journalist. The @Boston_Police's "CAPTURED!" tweet was retweeted about 143,000 times.

Putin: US and Russia security services should "combine efforts" in wake of Boston bombing

In a move absolutely no one expected because things like this never happen after high-profile incidents of mass violence, Russian President Vladimir Putin today "urged closer cooperation between other countries' security services after the Boston Marathon bombings," reports CNN, Said Putin, "If we combine our efforts, we will not suffer blows like that." [CNN.com]

Surowiecki: The right way to crowdsource a manhunt

James Surowiecki in the New Yorker:
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.

Read the rest: "Reddit and the Marathon Bombers: The Wise Way to Crowdsource a Manhunt" [newyorker.com]

Modern Manhunt: FBI, Hive Mind, Boston Bombers

At Wired News' Danger Room, Spencer Ackerman's feature on the technology and crowdsourcing dynamics that allowed law enforcement to identify the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing so rapidly. "Hiding in plain sight was an ocean of data, from torrents of photography to cell-tower information to locals’ memories, waiting to be exploited." [Wired.com]

Why was the suspected Boston Bomber charged with using a "weapon of mass destruction"?

Writes Spencer Ackerman at Wired's Danger Room: A “weapon of mass destruction” is "a very broad category under federal law. Grenades, mines, missiles and rockets all apply. So do homemade bombs of the sort Tsarnaev allegedly constructed."

Transcript of Boston Bombing suspect's bedside hearing (yes, he was Mirandized)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, has been charged in a criminal complaint over the bombing of the Boston Marathon. He appeared before a federal magistrate who came to his bedside at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He nodded affirmatively in response to questions, but spoke only one word: "no," after the magistrate asked him if he could afford a lawyer. The New York Times has the transcript. After much controversy, it's good to see that he was read his Miranda Rights. [NYTimes.com] And here's the FBI affidavit. [chicagotribune.com]

Boston Marathon bombing: first-person stories, in audio

The New York Times has a beautiful interactive feature with audio narratives from "some of the people seen near the finish line." What is most striking about the interactive design: as you scroll down the page to listen to each story, you see where each person was in the still image from NBC's broadcast of the race. Powerful. Here's how the Times put it together.

FBI: we didn't track elder bombing suspect

Responding to claims from the mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, the FBI said today it had not been tracking her oldest son, nor had the bureau spoken with him last week after the deadly marathon bombing. The only communication the FBI claims to have ever had with Tamerlan Tsarnaev "was an interview agents conducted with him in 2011 at the urging of a foreign government, since identified as Russia." [CNN.com]

Buzzfeed fingers bombing suspect in triple homicide based on Internet comments

Over at Buzzfeed, Rosie Gray seems pretty sure deceased bombing suspect Tamarlan Tsarnaev may well be responsible for a triple homicide. Based on Instagram comments and tweets. Seems legit.

No, Nike did not just release "Boston Massacre" t-shirts to mock Marathon bombing

Eric Stangel, a producer with the long-running late-night comedy show Late Show with David Letterman was in a Nike Outlet store this weekend and spotted a shirt with a message that seemed bizarre and inappropriate, after last week's bombings.

The phrase “Boston Massacre” has long referred to a 1770 attack led by British soldiers against civilians, and in this shirt, was appropriated for the Yankees/Red Sox baseball team rivalry.

Stangel spoke to a store employee, and said he believed the shirts shouldn’t be sold so soon after the recent bombing attack.

“We’ve been taking them down, but somehow they keep ending up back on the rack,” the employee is said to have replied.

Prediction: success from Boston surveillance in bombing manhunt will lead to more spying everywhere

"The images captured in Boston are validation of a three-year project in St. Louis to link 150 surveillance cameras into a single security system throughout the city’s central corridor, from the riverfront to Forest Park," reports Doug Moore at stltoday.com. This despite a statement by Boston's police chief that facial recognition technology system did not help find the suspects. How much you wanna bet the "surveillance imaging solved this crime" argument will lead to more forceful pushes for expanded surveillance imaging in any number of other American cities? (HT: @kgosztola)

The Brothers Tsarnaev

"The digital era allows no asylum from extremism, let alone from the toxic combination of high-minded zealotry and the curdled disappointments of young men."—David Remnick in The New Yorker on the Boston bombing suspects.

What legal rights should Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have?

Modified version of image from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's account on Russian social network vk.com.

Below, an array of perspectives on what legal rights the 19-year-old American citizen suspected of co-executing the Boston Marathon bombings has, and whether law enforcement is obliged to honor those rights under the circumstances:

• "If captured, I hope [the] Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as [an] enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes. If the Boston suspect has ties to overseas terror organizations he could be treasure trove of information. The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to 'remain silent.'"—Republican senator Lindsay Graham, on Twitter.

• "There's no way an American citizen committing a domestic crime in the city of Boston could be tried as an enemy combatant. It could never happen. And that shows absolute ignorance of the law."—Alan Dershowitz, prominent defense attorney and Harvard law professor, speaking on CNN.

Read the rest

Covering the Coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings

In infographic form, Hilary "Chartgirl" Sargent breaks down the highs and lows of the media coverage of this week's attacks in Boston.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remembered by Twitter friends as "cool bro, average dude" with whom to "smoke blunts"

Laura Griffin collected some tweets from apparent real-world friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. The post-bombing tweets "from four people who know him, and old conversations they had with him" suggest that @J_tsar was a real Twitter account belonging to the 19-year-old suspect.

Background: Chechnya

A memorial for victims of armed conflict in Grozny, the Chechen capital. Photo: C.J. Chivers, 2008.

C.J. Chivers, New York Times reporter and author of THE GUN, a social history of the AK-47, co-wrote this "primer on the land from which the Tsarnaev family hailed."

As the NYT piece notes, current Chechen leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov wrote on Instagram (!) that any ties between the Boston bombing suspects and Chechnya were mistaken: “The roots of this evil are to be found in America.”

How technology factored into the Boston bombing investigation

If you read one article on the role science and technology played in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, make it this one in today's edition of The Washington Post:
Quickly, the authorities secured a warehouse in Boston’s Seaport district and filled the sprawling space: On half of the vast floor, hundreds of pieces of bloody clothes were laid out to dry so they could be examined for forensic clues or flown to FBI labs at Quantico in Prince William County for testing. In the other half of the room, more than a dozen investigators sifted through hundreds of hours of video, looking for people “doing things that are different from what everybody else is doing,” Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said in an interview Saturday.

The work was painstaking and mind-numbing: One agent watched the same segment of video 400 times. The goal was to construct a timeline of images, following possible suspects as they moved along the sidewalks, building a narrative out of a random jumble of pictures from thousands of different phones and cameras.

Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev worked out, slept, partied after Boston Marathon attack

According to his friends, University of Massachusetts sophomore Dzhokhar Tsarnaev worked out, slept in his dowm room, and hung out with fellow students on the same day of the attack on the Boston Marathon, after the bombs went off. One student quoted in the Boston Globe who did not want to be identified said she saw Tsarnaev at a party on Wednesday night attended by some of his soccer team friends.

“He was just relaxed,” she said.

Depending on which acquaintance's quote you read, the 19-year-old either sounds normal or creepy:

Emily DeInnocentis, 23, said Tsarnaev stood out to her because of some odd behavior, like spreading messy string cheese all over her couch, and picking up her cat and carrying it upstairs for no reason.

“We just didn’t invite him over after that. How many people just pick up your cat and go upstairs?” she said.

More: "Bombing suspect attended UMass Dartmouth, prompting school closure; college friend shocked by charge he is Boston Marathon bomber." [The Boston Globe]

How crowdsourcing sleuths on Reddit searching for Boston bomber got the wrong guy

A subreddit titled "Find Boston Bombers" figured out that Sunil Tripathi, 22, was responsible for the deadly attack. Only he wasn't. This time, Reddit got it very wrong.

Massachusetts police: Tamerlan Tsarnaev was alive during shootout, until his brother drove over him

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was alive and struggling with Watertown police early Friday morning, when his younger brother and alleged coconspirator drove over him in a stolen SUV, dragging him on the pavement and apparently inflicting the fatal injuries that killed him."

Thermal video and photos of Boston bombing suspect, hiding in boat

Massachusetts State Police (MSP) released this video shot from their airwing helicopter hovering over "The Slipaway II," the boat where 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect, was captured and arrested last Friday night. Below, photos taken from the State Police Air Wing during the Watertown manhunt, released through the MSP Twitter account.

The photos were captured with FLIR, "a forward-looking infrared device used to pick up a person's heat signature, combined with night vision technology."

Read the rest

Why armed lockdown in Boston after the Marathon Bombings was a bad idea

"A large percent of the reaction in Boston has been security theater," writes Popehat. "'Four victims brutally killed' goes by other names in other cities. In Detroit, for example, they call it 'Tuesday.'...and Detroit does not shut down every time there are a few murders. 'But Clark,' I hear you say, 'this is different. This was a terrorist attack.'