In Web 2.0, mass murder doesn’t have to mean mass media

Wow, it’s been a while!

I’ve been really busy cutting our last three videos down into a six hour “highlights” package for those of you who are too lazy to watch the full thing.

I have to address what Xeni has sensibly called the first Web 2.0 mass murderer. I mean, mailing your Quicktime videos to a TV station – what could epitomise the Web 2.0 age more than that? This must be the first time ever that a murderer has communicated through the media!

Just had to give kudos to my pals Dave Winer
and Doc Searls.

Dave points out that the evil old-media gatekeepers at NBC are wrong not to release Cho’s video package in full. “It’s 2007, and it’s a decentralized world. We should all get a chance to see what’s on those videos” he says.

(Also congrats to Boing Boing for showing the power of social media by identifying some Flickr pictures of the killer in record time. Admittedly it turned out to be a totally different guy, but how were they supposed to know? Asians look alike. The old dead media, with its outmoded “accountability” and “fact-checking” would never have been able to point the finger so rapidly. Except maybe Geraldo.)

In the Web 2.0 age, it’s just wrong for a TV station not to run the video manifesto of a mass killer. As Doc says, “many eyes make all bugs shallow”. As far as I have seen, nobody has been suggesting measures that might stop these kind of tragedies in future, but if enough people see Cho’s vlog, I’m sure someone will suggest a “patch” and everyone will quickly come to an agreement to implement it.

We have to see the videos in full to work out a solution, though. 3 minutes of clips isn’t enough. Perhaps in one of the unreleased segments, Cho gives a vital clue to addressing the problem. “I’m concerned that I’m not getting enough selenium in my diet”, perhaps. Or maybe there’s something we could have done with RSS and Twitter to address his “stalking” problems.

In a way I am a victim of the same evil media filtering that Dave identifies. When I release a two hour video about a hot new papercraft startup, people complain that it’s “boring” and want me to cut it down. But that’s just another form of censorship.

As Doc points out, there could be bad consequences to releasing the killer’s manifesto in full. Like encouraging copycat spree killings. And allowing a dead murderer to slander and blame his victims from beyond the grave, thus increasing the pain of survivors and bereaved families. But I think my right to watch the videos I want to watch, in full, trumps the rights of a few whiny college kids.

I think the shooting-vlog sector is going to hockey-stick this semester. The clunky process of recording Quicktimes and sending them off to NBC is going to put off less tech-savvy killers – I’m sure a bright startup could capture that valuable content by making it easier for murderers to get their content online. Maybe with real-time helmet cam footage over 3G? Next week I hope to bring you an exclusive video interview with the founder of the first startup in this area, SpreeTube. I’m very excited!

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1 Comment

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One response to “In Web 2.0, mass murder doesn’t have to mean mass media

  1. Tim

    We miss you Scoobie!

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