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