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Did Tech Websites Exploit the Boston Marathon Bombing?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the defining-news-coverage dept.

The Media 182

Nerval's Lobster writes "These days, when something in the world goes very wrong, it seems as if everybody learns about it first on Twitter and Facebook. In the minutes after homemade bombs turned the finish line of the Boston Marathon into a crime scene, terms such as #BostonMarathon shot to the top of Twitter's Trends list; across the country, office workers first learned of the attack when someone posted a message on a Facebook page. Social networks have become this generation's radio, the default conduit for the freshest information. As first responders treated the wounded and the minutes ticked past, news organizations began vacuuming up Twitter and Facebook posts from around Boston and posting it on their Websites, along with 'regular' text updates. A Vine video-snippet of a bomb going off near the finish line, knocking a runner off his feet, ended up embedded into dozens of blog postings. When a disaster strikes, and many of those same news Websites post 'live updates' that incorporate tons of social-networking posts, they face accusations of exploiting the tragedy in the name of pageviews and revenue. That's not surprising—long before 'yellow journalism' became a term, people have charged news organizations with playing up humanity's worst for their own gain. In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings, online pundits lashed out against Mashable, The Verge, Wired, and other publications that had posted live updates, accusing them of stepping outside their usual coverage areas for cynical gain. In the following piece, a number of tech editors-in-chief, including The Verge's Joshua Topolsky and Mashable's Lance Ulanoff, talk about their approaches to covering the tragedy."

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What? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465487)

"Some Websites that posted “live updates” faced accusations of exploiting the tragedy in the name of pageviews and revenue." ??

Each time a disaster happens, we're FLOODED with the same info, repeated over and over... on TV and Internet...

So can I ask something : What's the difference between a website and a channel, such as Fox/CBC/CNN/etc !?
Why only the "Websites" and not every damn TV channel that broadcast the same ****ing news all day long?

ty.

Re:What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465543)

"Some Websites that posted “live updates” faced accusations of exploiting the tragedy in the name of pageviews and revenue." ??

Each time a disaster happens, we're FLOODED with the same info, repeated over and over... on TV and Internet...

So can I ask something : What's the difference between a website and a channel, such as Fox/CBC/CNN/etc !?
Why only the "Websites" and not every damn TV channel that broadcast the same ****ing news all day long?

ty.

Rogaine and Viagra were discovered by testing potential blood pressure medicines.

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465583)

Modern "news" channels are basically just a loop of the five worst things that happened in the world today.

Film at 11.

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466309)

Modern news channels are the five worst things that happened to the world today.

They could be useful... (2)

mozumder (178398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465879)

Social media could help crowdsource identification of all the images that are coming into the FBI tip line. There's probably thousands of images, with some images having thousands of people.

Social media sites could help identify every single one of those people to help the police follow up and interview them to see if they saw anything suspicious?

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466467)

The difference is that the websites accused of exploitation aren't general news sites, they're tech news sites. How would you feel if a tech news TV program was talking about stuff like this, with no actual connection to tech?

That's why they're being accused. Now, I realize the Internet isn't the same as TV. In TV-land, the tech program would be cancelled and a real news program would take its place, which is something that can't really happen on the internet. But the gut reaction "This isn't something you should be talking about" is still there.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466651)

"But the gut reaction "This isn't something you should be talking about" is still there."

I can understand that. But at the same time do you think you'd feel a reaction like "How could they NOT talk about something this important?" if they were to completely ignore it? Or can you at least imagine how some would think that?

Also, I think these sites are more likely to have fewer people (read: shareholders) controlling the editorial process and therefore more likely to cover things that affect them on an emotional level, even if those things deviate from their stated scope. That's the way I view this situation. I think these people saw something horrific and were deeply disturbed by it. I think they felt as though there was no way to not talk about it. I think if these were the kind of sites run by people who thought "Oh look, carnage! We can use that to generate pageviews!" then these would be very different from what they are given that there is no end to daily carnage.

Lots of misinformation (3, Informative)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465523)

No wonder there was so much misinformation. First there was 1 dud bomb that didn't go off, then there were 5. Then there were none.
This is all social media's doing.

Re:Lots of misinformation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465707)

It's just like patching software - the faster we can release patches the buggier the initial software becomes. This is just the same idea with news.

Unfortunately it means we all waste time dealing with incorrect information and early adopters get caned (viz. Sim City).

Re:Lots of misinformation (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465781)

CNN reported Ryan Lanza was the Newtown shooter at first. Then tweets followed.

Ryan being Adams brother.

Re:Lots of misinformation (1)

jxander (2605655) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466113)

Social media may not always be the perpetrator of hastily published misinformation ... but it certainly leads the charge on that front.

Re:Lots of misinformation (5, Insightful)

Iskender (1040286) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465863)

No wonder there was so much misinformation. First there was 1 dud bomb that didn't go off, then there were 5. Then there were none.
This is all social media's doing.

Was all the information we received during the 911 attacks accurate right from the start? At least I heard wildly different accounts as the situation developed, so I'd say no.

"Social media" didn't really exist back then, and certainly isn't the cause. When something sudden happens it takes time for the information to disseminate, and for a while people have to rely on rumours. It's the same as it ever was.

It's possible that one thing has changed: people have developed unrealistic expectations for how quickly you can get accurate information from far away.

Re:Lots of misinformation (4, Interesting)

PIBM (588930) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466513)

Where were you ? I for one was lurking on a very busy IRC channel before going to the University. Them someone posted `WWWWTTTFFFF!!!!!`, a few seconds later he said that a plane crashed in the building, and a minute later he started sharing (yeah, we then had to send it to other people manually ..) webcam snapshots. That was pretty much a social network at work.

Re:Lots of misinformation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43467131)

Currently, according to SearchIRC, there are "There are 385,188 people" on IRC at the moment. I don't think IRC has lost a few hundred million users, even if you multiply by 10 to account for people who arn't using IRC right now.

I'm a huge fan of IRC, but it is in no way comparable to the centralized social media behemoths of today.

Re:Lots of misinformation (1)

therealobsideus (1610557) | about a year and a half ago | (#43467169)

I was watching live feed as the second plane hit. Before that, my school went on lockdown and ushered all the kids away from the TVs (I was in the library and hid in the stacks so I can stay and watch) while all the majority of the teachers stayed in the library to watch the news. I'll never forget that second plane hitting - or the buildings start collapsing.

Re:Lots of misinformation (1)

Cormacus (976625) | about a year and a half ago | (#43467183)

I was sleeping in my bunk. Woke up, slid down to the computer desk underneath said bunk and almost immediately got an IM (on AIM, since thats what all the cool kids were using at that point) to the effect of 'the world is ending.' Got the TV card in my computer working in time to see plane #2 hit.

Re:Lots of misinformation (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465929)

Also, the NY Post's. They said there was 12 dead.

Re:Lots of misinformation (1)

rockout (1039072) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466095)

I saw that as well - it was up for about 8 hours (at least) while all other sources were saying 2, and then 3. That rag will take any piece of sensational info they get from any source and just run with it, though. It seems more important to them to be "first" rather than accurate.

Re:Lots of misinformation (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466277)

The NY Post also ran the (now thoroughly falsified) "news" that a Saudi suspect had been taken into custody early after the blast. That served as a great filter for identifying racist right-wing nutters, who were eager to pass along the NY Post's predictable uncorroborated tabloid Islamophobia as if it were an actual news source.

Re:Lots of misinformation (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466393)

The NY Post also ran the (now thoroughly falsified) "news" that a Saudi suspect had been taken into custody early after the blast. That served as a great filter for identifying racist right-wing nutters, who were eager to pass along the NY Post's predictable uncorroborated tabloid Islamophobia as if it were an actual news source.

That "news item" was previously included in the Wikipedia article on this event, [wikipedia.org] with Daily Mail serving as the cited source.

ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465531)

I find it ironic that I found out about the bombs on slashdot first.

Re:ironic (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465873)

I find it ironic that I found out about the bombs on slashdot first.

I rather says something profound, but the actual lesson is left as an exercise for the poster...

Let's get one thing straight... (5, Insightful)

reiserifick (2616539) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465533)

... most news agencies are for-profit entertainment businesses, rather than public service organizations.

Re:Let's get one thing straight... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466127)

And they are mutually exclusive?

Re:Let's get one thing straight... (3, Informative)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466445)

Yes. A "for-profit entertainment business exists for the purpose of making profit. A public service organization exists to provide a public service. A for profit entertainment business might happen to also provide some public service if they think it will help them make more profit. A public service organization (if it isn't declared a nonprofit, which they tend to be) might happen to turn a profit but their main goal is providing a public service.

Re:Let's get one thing straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466223)

Except in as much as they also often serve the government (as in, the entity, not "the people") to promote and propogate propoganda. You know, like "fear fear fear fear, now pass these invasive laws that let your ISP and cell provider snitch on you to the government carte blanche".

Re:Let's get one thing straight... (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466255)

when big media starts reporting things like "are we safe?" to fear monger then they cross over into exploiting a tragedy for their own gain. They should have any profits reaped taken from them when they do this. I noticed big media like CNN was not included in this list and they should be absolutely. They are the worst at it.

Re:Let's get one thing straight... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466923)

And the ones that are public service organisations feel they have an obligation to "keep up" with the rest.

Re:Let's get one thing straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43467201)

Then the simple answer is put copyright on all TWEETS (where it belongs with the owner) that the corporate exploit fuckers have to get permission to REPOST your shiznitz

So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465551)

Profit is good. What's wrong with what they (purportedly) did? We need to foster innovation in news. If no one pursued profit, what revolutionary developments in soundbite and factoid technology will go missed?

Don't make a sound... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465559)

Here you have a tech website in its natural habitat, being a gigantic hypocrite

There is no license to cover serious topics (5, Interesting)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465575)

The idea that tech blogs can cover stories about tech, but should leave coverage of serious political and human issues to the "big boys" of traditional media, is ridiculous. There is no special license needed to write about serious and important topics, only the usual requirement that the reporting be genuinely in the public interest. Presenting information from social networks, as long as it is labelled as such and not misrepresented as certain fact, is in no way improper. If people are interested in reading about that information, there is nothing wrong with providing it, and if tech blogs feel that because of their focus, they are especially able to do this, then they should.

Re:There is no license to cover serious topics (5, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465805)

The idea that tech blogs can cover stories about tech, but should leave coverage of serious political and human issues to the "big boys" of traditional media, is ridiculous.

Right. But the idea that tech blogs should stick to tech stuff isn't. People categorize information because it helps them manage the information overload of their daily lives. I go to tech sites to read about tech things. When I want politics, if ever, I go to a political site. When I want entertainment news, if ever, I go to an entertainment website.

This categorization of information works very well and helps reduce clutter and overload. It also allows specialization in coverage. Tech blog writers have no special credentials for politics or entertainment news, so why should they pretend they are the best source of information about either? And why should a tech website be wasting bandwidth/storage/author time covering something that is being covered better somewhere else where those who want such coverage can easily find it themselves?

It's not like people who read tech blogs are incapable of going to general news sites when they want general news, is it? Do technical people have some limit on how well they can navigate the net?

Re:There is no license to cover serious topics (4, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466053)

That depends. Many blogs have a sizable crowd of followers who regularly debate stuff amongst themselves, and in some cases there is a group of regular, frequent commenters, transforming a blog from a mere set of articles with comments into an online community. Such a community might well feel the need for a topic to discuss momentous events like these, even if it is off topic. Just like everyone was discussing it today at the water cooler and at their desks.

Re:There is no license to cover serious topics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466781)

Furthermore it is really handy for those of us, like me, who would like to know about notable happenings around the world that are non-tech-related, but who are not willing to rountinely go to a non-tech website just to check if something notable has in fact happened.

Re:There is no license to cover serious topics (1)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466083)

I agree with what you say, but I was addressing the criticisms in the article, which were that there was something improper about Tech sites covering this event, as opposed to simply these sites not having the expertise to produce something that readers would value.

Most likely the Tech sites thought that given the level of user interest in this topic, that any new perspective the they could add to the topic would be valuable to readers. Some sites mentioned claimed that they are not "Tech" sites or that they are trying to broaden their coverage.

Re:There is no license to cover serious topics (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466227)

It's not like people who read tech blogs are incapable of going to general news sites when they want general news, is it? Do technical people have some limit on how well they can navigate the net?

No, and presumably neither do you. So you're free to go to the political site if wish, and navigate away from a tech site that's trying to cover "politics" (actually breaking events). What's your problem with that? If anything the people reading the tech sites for breaking events will reduce the load on the political server sites that you want to visit.

Tech blog writers have no special credentials for politics or entertainment news, so why should they pretend they are the best source of information about either?

"Political and entertainment" sites (e.g. mainstream news outlets) cover tech news, even though they often clearly lack the ability to do so accurately. Often the authors don't understand the most elementary points, like the difference between power and energy. You'd flunk a high school science class that way. Makes me wonder what, if any, special expertise they have in covering politics.

Re:There is no license to cover serious topics (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43467117)

No, and presumably neither do you. So you're free to go to the political site if wish, and navigate away from a tech site that's trying to cover "politics" (actually breaking events). What's your problem with that?

It's a waste of time for someone to go to a tech site and be presented with off-topic material that can be better found elsewhere. If someone wants that material, there are plenty of places they can go that are better suited for it and it won't get in the way of the purpose of the tech site.

I.e., I came to the tech site for tech info. Getting useless info that isn't tech related is a waste of the user's time.

If anything the people reading the tech sites for breaking events will reduce the load on the political server sites that you want to visit.

I don't care about the load on webservers that I don't want to visit.

"Political and entertainment" sites (e.g. mainstream news outlets) cover tech news,

This is the "someone else is doing something stupid so we have to do something stupid, too" argument. Sorry, isn't effective.

Makes me wonder what, if any, special expertise they have in covering politics.

And this is the "if they don't understand everything well, they can't understand anything well" argument. I think we all know enough people who are technologically brilliant but social and political morons to ever believe this.

Re:There is no license to cover serious topics (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466709)

but...but...but... When a group of US citizens (some wealthy, some not so much) united together for the purpose of producing some media not favorable to a certain politician here in the US, it seemed like the consensus here is that only the "big boys" have the right to be called "the press" and only they are the ones allowed to speak about anything.

Why is this different?

Yes, along with everybody else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465577)

Is the mainstream media not "exploiting" the event as well?

irony is not lost to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465587)

So this is about people complaining about news organizations stepping outside their targeted topics.

How is this news for nerds?

Answer - YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465593)

Now stop asking stupid questions and let's try to answer the real questions like, "How to stop this horseshit."

Got it?

The question isn't so hard.

Get a grip.The answer sucks, though. AND i CAN'T STOMACH IT.

I am not sure, (1)

ruir (2709173) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465619)

But quite sure slashdot doing it.

People are interested in tragedies (5, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465625)

I'm a marathon runner, and the first I heard about this was from friends inquiring if I knew anybody there. I can't conceive of what earthly good this information would have done them (perhaps they wanted to offer me some sort of comfort if I had) but I do know that whatever it is, people are fascinated by the tragedies and want to know everything they can the soonest they can.

So I can hardly blame news companies for giving people the fastest information that they can. They're not so much "exploiting" the tragedy as giving people what it is they're craving (or at least, the closest substitute they can get to it, the unverified raw data stream). I don't think it's doing them any good (that's a different rant) but they're not forcing this on people. They're doing what people ask them to do.

I don't see the problem (5, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465627)

In what way did news coverage make things worse? If a huge crowd of cameramen were to obstruct the way of emergency vehicles I would understand the uproar, but absent that I fail to see what damage could journalism possibly cause.

Re:I don't see the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466343)

Joking right? Will you say the same about a "real" news agency in the same situation? Pretend for a moment that all the "social media" content from yesterday was actually from a news agency instead of user behind a fictitious user name. Regardless of that hypothetical, do you really not see _any_ way damage can be done through "journalism"?

Re:I don't see the problem (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466799)

I think the question was asking for specifics regarding this particular event, not hypothetical situations that will most likely never happen.

I see plenty of ways that damage is being done through "journalism" every day and it is mostly from the well-heeled, left leaning "big boys". Nearly every time one of them repeats a politicians crap about "preventing future tragedies" they are damaging our freedom. Need to prevent a future shooting. Easy. Pass a law that says I have to get permission from the government to give my son a gun. Except the most recent shooting we are trying "to prevent" was committed by someone who killed to get his guns and never even thought about subjecting himself to a background check. Neither will 80% or more of all shooters. But we have to do SOMETHING.

Re:I don't see the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43467135)

I think he mean more along the lines of a bunch of ppl in the street blocking traffic. As a camera dude myself, I know exactly the point here, too many people in the pen. However I could be wrong interpreting him.
I will say this, if Journalism actually meant "Journalism", and not just a fucking excuse for a for-profit fascist press pass, then no damage would be happening right now, and a lot of crooked banksters and oath breaking scum would be filling up Ft Leavenworth to the point they need to EXPAND IT about right now.

Just keep news orgs responsible for accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465637)

And revoke their "Press" privileges : the access passes,etc if they exceed a specified number (and maybe grade) of "inaccuracy events"
Their job is to present facts and not opinions, so this should be relatively easy to implement

Re:Just keep news orgs responsible for accuracy (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465995)

And revoke their "Press" privileges : the access passes,etc if they exceed a specified number (and maybe grade) of "inaccuracy events"
Their job is to present facts and not opinions, so this should be relatively easy to implement

If they did that, the only news would be "Explosions reported at Boston Marathon, check back next month for details when we tell you what the authorities want you to know".

Without news crews on the ground, people would only get one side of the story, after it has been sanitized by the government. A terrorist attack (or disaster) is chaotic, even authoritative sources will sometimes release inaccurate or incomplete information. Independent witnesses interviewed at the scene will sometimes have wildly different versions of the events depending on their vantage point and own personal experience.

I don't know how the news media can be graded on accuracy of facts when the facts themselves are in dispute even among official sources.

Re:Just keep news orgs responsible for accuracy (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466421)

Thing is... unless there is some risk to me, or my family or friends are involved, I wouldn't mind only hearing about things once the details are worked out.

Granted, I do not want a sanitized version, but you can still collect what facts you can at the time of the event and then take the time to put the pieces together and release an independent analysis later.

The only need for immediate news is if that news serves some purpose to you other than just gaping at spectacle. If anything, I think this sort of "News Now" mentality does quite directly contribute to terrorism and things like school shootings because it guarantees the attention that the perpetrators desire more than anything. If someone blows someone else up and no one ever hears about it, it's not a very effective demonstration.

I'm not arguing that we shouldn't get news of this sort of thing at the time of, but the 24hr news cycle means that it gets done with all sorts of speculation, fearmongering and rampant emotionalism that pretty much renders a reasoned discussion of the steps to take difficult, not to mention fueling ridiculous conspiracy theories that actually show up due to discrepancies caused by jumping to conclusions by media outlets that people tend to trust.

Re:Just keep news orgs responsible for accuracy (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466849)

Great. Check back in a few months and you'll have all that. You can even use that to compare how all the organizations did during the vent itself and determine which ones were most accurate most quickly and after a few of these you might start seeing a pattern and then you could use that information to decide which organizations might be worth listening to during the next event. Or not.

Re:Just keep news orgs responsible for accuracy (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466827)

Suspend their First Amendment rights... is it really worth the cost of a lengthy trial for this or should we just let people determine for themselves whom to trust?

Do we also shut down Mother Jones, Sierra Club and PETA on the same grounds?

Boston Marathon bombings likely used pressure coo (0)

starworks5 (139327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465639)

The Chicago Tribune reports [chicagotribune.com]

Current and former counter-terrorism officials said that the Boston bombs were built using pressure cookers as the superstructure, black powder or gunpowder as the explosive and ball bearings as additional shrapnel. The officials said that instructions on how to design such bombs are available on the Internet [xkcd.com] .

http://slashdot.org/submission/2606257/boston-marathon-bombings-likely-used-pressure-cooker-plans-found-on-the-internet [slashdot.org]

Re: Boston Marathon bombings likely used pressure (1)

PuppiesAndGoats (2895817) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465855)

I didn't want to be scolded in twitter for being heartless, so I haven't expressed my concerns: will someone take this issue up as a reactionary justification for stricter internet regulation (CISPA) a la PATRIOT act? We all know the pudding inside politicians heads is only capable of reaction, be it to money or tragedy. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but the nuttier of the gun nuts say the recent shootings are a conspiracy-- screw it, I'll say it: YOU'LL HAVE TO PRY THE INTERNET FROM MY COLD DEAD CARPAL TUNNEL SUFFERING HANDS. /crazy

Re: Boston Marathon bombings likely used pressure (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466001)

That xkcd does not include instructions on how to make such a bomb. It doesn't mention black powder at all, or ball bearings.

It is also quite incorrect. It claims that a consumer-grade cooker won't go above 2 atm. That's patently absurd. If you block the exit and the safety valve fails, the pressure can easily reach a level that the metal will burst.

But that's if the safety valve fails. Well, the best course of action in any operation is to never assume that the safety valve will work properly and to never push the envelope where it has to work to keep you alive.

Even if the safety valve functions, the hole it opens is limited in size. If the amount of heat being applied creates the pressure more rapidly than it can be released by the safety valve, you still get enough pressure to rupture the vessel. Using black powder as the pressure generation source would most likely create enough pressure fast enough, and if one of those ball bearing happened to block the safety valve hole, you suddenly have no safety valve.

Along with assuming the safety valve functions properly, there is the assumption that the pressure vessel has not been compromised. Stress fractures or damage to the vessel can create a weakness that can rupture.

And that, dear reader, means that the worst that can happen in a normal kitchen is that it can, indeed, explode and kill you.

Re: Boston Marathon bombings likely used pressure (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466201)

That xkcd does not include instructions on how to make such a bomb. It doesn't mention black powder at all, or ball bearings.

It is also quite incorrect. It claims that a consumer-grade cooker won't go above 2 atm. That's patently absurd. If you block the exit and the safety valve fails, the pressure can easily reach a level that the metal will burst.

I think most modern pressure cookers are designed so the gasket between the lid and the pot will give way and leak pressure before the metal pot explodes so you'd have to have a failure of the pressure valve, the pressure release safety valve *and* the gasket. Older pressure cookers often didn't have that that gasket level of safety, so a failure of the pressure valve and safety *could* result in explosion.

But that's if the safety valve fails. Well, the best course of action in any operation is to never assume that the safety valve will work properly and to never push the envelope where it has to work to keep you alive.

Isn't that pretty much the normal use-case for the pressure cooker. The normal pressure valve is typically small and relatively easily clogged, so everytime you use it, you're counting on the safety release valve being there just in case the primary pressure release becomes clogged. If there wasn't that extra safety valve, people would be afraid to cook anything but plain water to prevent clogging the pressure valve.

Even if the safety valve functions, the hole it opens is limited in size. If the amount of heat being applied creates the pressure more rapidly than it can be released by the safety valve, you still get enough pressure to rupture the vessel. Using black powder as the pressure generation source would most likely create enough pressure fast enough, and if one of those ball bearing happened to block the safety valve hole, you suddenly have no safety valve.

Safety valve or no, a big enough explosive is going to rupture the device, but that's well outside of the normal operating conditions of a pressure cooker - a household stove can only put so much energy into the pressure cooker and a 1cm hole can let out an awful lot of steam.

Along with assuming the safety valve functions properly, there is the assumption that the pressure vessel has not been compromised. Stress fractures or damage to the vessel can create a weakness that can rupture.

And that, dear reader, means that the worst that can happen in a normal kitchen is that it can, indeed, explode and kill you.

Yeah, that's the worst case, but you're probably more likely to die from your stove leaking natural gas into your house than having a modern pressure cooker explode.

Re: Boston Marathon bombings likely used pressure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466893)

Uh I am just reading that article now, and it COULD be the proxy/firewall here at work but - the article doesn't seem to be linking to XKCD.

The way it reads now (Maybe the Tribune edited the article?) reads:

"The sources, who asked not to be identified, said instructions on how to design such bombs are available on the internet."

not fault of social media (3, Informative)

KernelMuncher (989766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465641)

It's no fault of social media that they are more timely and have more information than local / national news organizations. People want to get the info so they turn to whatever source they can. I don't see it as some crass opportunism to increase page count. It's simply social media sites deliver what the people want more quickly than anybody else.

Re:not fault of social media (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465817)

Not only that, but the summary is assuming that everyone uses Facebook and Twitter. I don't, and I'm sure I'm not alone. A lot of people wouldn't know where to look on Twitter or Facebook to see the latest information. They may know some of the local news outlets and visit their web sites. By re-posting info from social media, the news sites are enabling the non-Facebook, non-Twitter crowd to be as up to date as everyone else. This is far more useful (aside from the danger of misinformation) than a vague news article that might only get updated every half hour or so.

My first thought on seeing news sites re-posting social media wasn't "that's crass". My first thought was "that's a really clever idea". The sites I visited also had their own content.

Remember back to 9/11. CNN was reduced to a text-only, single page site in order to handle the load. The small number of well known news sites made it difficult to access information as it unfolded. Internet forums picked up some of the slack. Now with social media coupled with the news sites, it's less likely people will hit a single point of failure or bottleneck. The data is everywhere, pick your aggregator. In the case of emergency, this seems like a good thing.

Re:not fault of social media (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466401)

If you use reddit you would have noticed a nice hypocrisy yesterday. The same people who would blast media for fear-mongering and exploiting wild accusations or loaded segment-titles were the ones whoring for Karma as they posted their own takes on the bombing under loaded titles etc.

Re:not fault of social media (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43467095)

agree with less SECRECY too.

Oh we got an ongoing investigation bla fuckty bla
Compare with...
@Jackass - THat fuckin cop hit me in the head with a STICK!

Caught my eye (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465661)

across the country, office workers first learned of the attack when someone posted a message on a Facebook page.

I have no idea if this is true or not, but unfortunately I believe it.

People waste so much paid work time on Facebook. Why don't they put it to productive use, and post on Slashdot instead?

How is this different from the phone? (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465667)

People made calls and sent texts immediately. This affects their monthly bill. Based on this TFS's reasoning, should we not see AT&T and Sprint as exploiting the tragedy as well?

Re:How is this different from the phone? (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465941)

People made calls and sent texts immediately. This affects their monthly bill. Based on this TFS's reasoning, should we not see AT&T and Sprint as exploiting the tragedy as well?

All those texts and phone calls overwhelmed and slowed the local cell services for hours.
In related news, AT&T wireless users didn't notice the difference. :-)

Re:How is this different from the phone? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466495)

Cell providers only profit if they calls go through, and so they only profit to the point where they can connect a call. They would be taking advantage of the situation only if there was some location that they knew would be affected by bombs and made sure and built out the infrastructure to handle it, and then added a surcharge for some sort of peak coverage. Otherwise, it's just higher call volume.

Re:How is this different from the phone? (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43467391)

I agree. [I]t's just higher call volume.That's the same situation that TFS describes with social networks.

As first responders treated the wounded and the minutes ticked past, news organizations began vacuuming up Twitter and Facebook posts from around Boston and posting it on their Websites

The communications medium is being used more, but since it is an internet based medium it's treated as something new. What's especially odd about this piece is that it's acting like the "Tech Websites" were somehow remarkable in their actions. I was looking at CNN.com to get updates on this and it too featured live updates lifted or repeated from social media. If the there are sites we use to get news, and we go to these tragedy or no, then it is utterly unsurprising that these sites reported as much as they could about this news. (And as one Slashdotter helpfully pointed out yesterday, Slashdot was up when many other sites were down on 9/11, so maybe a proliferation of important news like this isn't a bad thing.) One almost suspects that the scare term "cyber" should have been attached to this somehow (e.g. cyber-exploitation, cyber-yellow-journalism etc.) to enhance the feeling it's something new. The most puzzling thing about this piece is this:

When a disaster strikes, and many of those same news Websites post 'live updates' that incorporate tons of social-networking posts, they face accusations of exploiting the tragedy in the name of pageviews and revenue.

There are only two concrete accusations mentioned in the linked (which, incidentally, is to a Slashdot article). FTFA:

“Your tech news site shouldn’t be live-blogging this,” journalist John Paul Titlow Tweeted at one point, a sentiment echoed (and reposted) by others.

“Tech blogs poking their amateurish noses into areas in which they offer neither authority nor insight is depressing,” Milo Yiannopoulos wrote in an email a few hours later. “It’s also spreading: shameless, tasteless pageview-chasing was to be expected after today’s tragedy in Boston from the likes of Mashable and TechCrunch. But how surprising, and how sad, to see The Verge and Wired getting in on the act as well.” This isn’t journalism, he insisted: “It’s attention-seeking.”

From whom do the vague accusations come? Well we've a tech journalist who tweets down his nose at tech websites, apparently reckoning that a website that normally talks about tech can't pass on info from social media to meet the high standards of real news sites like CNN. Oddly enough this doesn't stop him from retweeting a pic of the bombing from Josh Robin. And then we've a brief complaint excerpted from an email by Milo Yiannopoulos, a Slashdot contributor. His complaint again amounts to the notion that tech websites can't act as intermediaries for twitter and facebook updates as well as legitimate journalists [nytimes.com] . These were the only two concrete complaints and they, in turn, were reported by Nick Kolakowski on Slashdot and linked in a summery here.

Here's my new journalistic law, may Betteridge approve:

"Any article or article summary that claims an entity 'faces accusations' without mentioning the accusers is itself stirring said controversy for the sake of traffic."

It Doesn't Matter... (2)

JJJJust (908929) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465685)

It doesn't particularly matter if they were trying to exploit it or not since they just can't do non-tech major breaking news reporting as good as the big boys.

Take The Verge, for example, who seem to not grasp the simple concept that if you're going to try and live blog, you write from the bottom up to allow for rapid F5'ing. Mashable's content is no better than one going to Twitter and typing "Boston" in the search box.

If you want to exploit something, you need to give them reason to stick around while you fleece them for ad dollars... I clicked off the tech sites and went to CNN and the Wall Street Journal (the latter, to me, had superior coverage).

Re:It Doesn't Matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43467057)

Elite Production and Editing, resulting in a high end presentation, isn't the same as real truth!

When public officials get to walk off the stage not answering questions (like why were ppl told to be calm when fucking bombs were going off? http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sI3ASU0ad48 ) clearly these fascist trained art producers are even LESS qualified than the Tim Pool's and the Luke Rudkowski's trying to shove a camera into henry kissinger's ugly fucking oath breaking face as he runs away in the same insolent arrogant fucking elite style, to his security force hidy-hole.

Although I hear some can make shit completely fucking vanish as well. check it out. http://www.prisonplanet.com/video-major-oddity-during-bombing-coverage.html UPDATE: now the video is gone. Big surprise there.

Obligatory xkcd (0)

mwissel (869864) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465723)

...is this time a what-if.

http://what-if.xkcd.com/40/ [xkcd.com]

"What's the worst thing that can happen if you misuse a pressure cooker" someone asked shortly ago. What are the odds of that!

(hint: news say they found the bombs were built inside pressure cookers)

Re:Obligatory xkcd (1)

Spad (470073) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465903)

Then let us all be glad they didn't read that first and cook up a batch of dioxygen difluoride to use.

Re:Obligatory xkcd (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466511)

Which was a cool article, but did not describe any good way to make a portable bomb a pressure cooker. It did, however, describe very well how you could kill yourself and everyone in your kitchen by using it as part of your chemistry set.

Who are we talking about again? (5, Informative)

_xeno_ (155264) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465733)

As first responders treated the wounded and the minutes ticked past, news organizations began vacuuming up Twitter and Facebook posts from around Boston and posting it on their Websites, along with 'regular' text updates. A Vine video-snippet of a bomb going off near the finish line, knocking a runner off his feet, ended up embedded into dozens of blog postings. When a disaster strikes, and many of those same news Websites post 'live updates' that incorporate tons of social-networking posts, they face accusations of exploiting the tragedy in the name of pageviews and revenue.

So, wait, are talking about "tech websites" or "traditional journalists" here? Because when I first heard about the explosions (from Twitter, naturally), I went to boston.com - which was in some kind of "low bandwidth" mode where they front page was only showing tweets related to the explosions.

"Traditional" media throughout the aftermath referenced tweets. NPR referenced the Boston Police Department's Twitter feed for updates. Local TV stations turned to Twitter, Vine, and YouTube to find videos of the explosion.

I guess only tech websites aren't "allowed" to mine Twitter? Because from what I could tell, everyone was doing that, from print to radio to TV to the web.

Nothing we say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43465747)

is going to change anything. Let's get over it and realise that some people and organisations are simply abhorrent. Also, enough about Boston; lets move on to some other news, shall we?

Why was this stupid question (3, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465751)

legitimized with an editorial?

Traditional news sites repost content from social networks and blog sites, and then traditional media blames social networks and blog sites for exploiting tragedy and the errors they themselves repeated.

Who fucking cares what they think. You should be attacking them directly, not defending yourselves with equivocation about page views and advertising. Newspapers and TV news have ads too, and their websites are even more obnoxious with them.

Maybe... (1, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465835)

Just like Slashdot is by posting a non story for clicks.

Three Words (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465917)

Welcome

To

Capitalism.

Not going to speculate as to whether what has happened is or is not morally correct, but that's precisely how for-profit business works in a capitalist society - whatever gets the dollars coming in is posted, regardless of how tasteless or unoriginal the content may be.

Re:Three Words (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465927)

In-before-the-trolls PS: by "What has happened" I of course mean in regards to the posting/re-posting of sensationalist video and social networking posts, not the actual bombing itself.

"Confirmed" is the new "reported" (2)

Nukenbar (215420) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465949)

If people would simply put, "it is reported" in tweets instead of "it is confirmed" (when it is not), we could really cut down on a lot of misinformation.

Don't care... (5, Interesting)

dthanna (1294016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43465989)

If The Verge, Slashdot, Wired or, heck, Gizmag want to write about the explosion - it is their 1st Amendment right to do so. Same goes for the National Enquirer, STAR, or any of the other tabloid journals. This isn't any different than WSJ, NYT, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Al Jazeera, etc. can write about tech items, happiness, tragedy, cat getting stuck in a tree or anything else considered newsworthy.

Each outlet will be judged by how well they do their job, and will receive an appropriate reputation.

Since our news organizations are a combination of subscriber and advertiser revenue based, they have to write according to their generating said revenue.

We can either just deal with the situation as it stands or have state-run news organizations. I really don't think anyone would be comfortable with the latter as even approaching truthfulness or integrity in the long term.

If the 'Big Boys' don't like the upstarts encroaching on their turf - all I can say is.. too bad.

Did they? Yes, now stop talking about it (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466013)

Did tech websites glom onto the tragedy too much?

Yes.

Now stop talking about it, my cousin Allison is in surgery for her knee for the second day, and I want you to talk about something else.

Like dinosaur quizzes, or how you may be able to treat atherosclerosis with a common drug.

I'm not feeling the outrage here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466047)

I mean, seriously, here was the New York Post headline over the recent Tiger Woods incident: "Tiger Puts Balls in Wrong Place Again."

Correction (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466077)

Nerval's Lobster has a correction for the original post.

"I must apologize for calling any of these outlets "news organizations" , I was incorrect. Now back to regularly scheduled programming. "

Slashdot too (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466103)

Didn't Slashdot do the exact same thing yesterday?

On the other hand, not saying anything seems callous, so you're damned no matter what you do.

Re:Slashdot too (4, Insightful)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466249)

I got back from work and learned of the explosions from Slashdot first, opened a tab to googlenews and caught on that it was still too recent to get a fully accurate understanding of this story. I read the comments here and did get information that proved to be accurate (applause for the good users here). There's nothing wrong with Slashdot posting the story, it is news that matters.

Re:Slashdot too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43467013)

> There's nothing wrong with Slashdot posting the story,

Except that it literally doesn't matter. 7k ppl die in US highway accidents daily. This is just sensationalism. Specifically, it is wrong.

> it is news that matters.

Nope.

Curious stock market fluctuations (0)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466285)

Apropos of nothing, note that the day before the Marathon bombings:

1) The DOW dropped 250 points (1.7%).
3) Gold (GLD) dropped $20 or so, (roughly 15%).

An explanation for this could be: some large players in the financial arena knew of the bombings ahead of time, and sold stock/gold in anticipation of the market response to another 9/11-style incident.

I'm not suggesting that this is what happened, it might be a coincidence. I'm hoping some of the investigation will show that this is indeed a coincidence (or not)*. This is a good fit for the definition of "suspicious".

*I'm aware that the news media (and financial pundits in general) post explanations for market behaviour every day. Gold dropped because Cyprus is being forced to sell of its gold, and the Dow dropped because of worse-than-expected China growth. I'm suspicious that the Cyprus situation was unknown and suddenly revealed last Friday, and I'm especially suspicious of reports that explain past activity which cannot predict future activity - even conditionally.

Re:Curious stock market fluctuations (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466413)

And I'm especially suspicious of wild-ass conspiracy theories that would require the cooperation of a massive number of players. Sure, a half dozen people could know about attacks and keep it secret. But enough people to significantly move the national exchange averages and world gold market (without all the sales coming from a suspiciously tiny number of sources), all conspiring together to keep a terrorist attack secret? Not a single whistle-blower unnerved by the thought of murdering civilians who might call in a tip in advance? Your blind paranoia, and deep misunderstanding of how actual institutions work, is astounding.

Re:Curious stock market fluctuations (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466589)

And I'm especially suspicious of wild-ass conspiracy theories that would require the cooperation of a massive number of players. Sure, a half dozen people could know about attacks and keep it secret. But enough people to significantly move the national exchange averages and world gold market (without all the sales coming from a suspiciously tiny number of sources), all conspiring together to keep a terrorist attack secret? Not a single whistle-blower unnerved by the thought of murdering civilians who might call in a tip in advance? Your blind paranoia, and deep misunderstanding of how actual institutions work, is astounding.

Are you sure "wild-ass conspiracy theory" is the right term, since a) I'm pointing to actual events that could be investigated, and b) I'm not stating that it happened that way, only that some investigation would be prudent?

Also, is "blind paranoia" the appropriate term, since c) I'm not especially afraid, emotional, or irrational and I'm not trying to make others feel afraid?

If you're so astounded, then tell me how actual institutions work. Allay my suspicions and reassure me by using logic and reference (also acceptable: opinion backed by experience and scholarship).

A troll wouldn't be able to do that. Can you?

Re:Curious stock market fluctuations (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466987)

I agree, a troll would not be able to allay your suspicions. Nor might any entirely rational and intelligent response; arguing with "birthers" or young-earth-creationists is similarly futile. Nonetheless, I'll make one brief attempt:

1) some classes of conspiracy are only amenable operation withing small tight-knit groups of "true believer" participants;
2) typical terrorist attacks are in this class: while there may be a huge number of after-the-fact "sympathizers," actual operational knowledge is kept within a very small "cell" of participants, because
3) spreading the existence of such plans to more than a tiny number of participants rapidly increases chances of intelligence leaks, with disastrous consequences for all conspirators involved.

5) while world wealth is strongly concentrated, it still takes a large number of players to swing world financial markets;
6) and, with the visibility of the pre-attack market swing, the "conspirators" are also drawing attention to themselves, thus need to ask the protection of an overwhelming majority of all other agents (financial regulators, journalists, other analysts) who might expose them.
7) this separates the "wild-ass conspiracy theory" from a "reasonable conspiracy theory" about the conspiracy of a small "cell" of players.

8) There are alternate mechanisms through which large numbers of investors/governments/journalists appear to "conspire," but these have different characteristics from "plunge the stock market with a terrorist attack";
9) for example, the world power elite may "conspire" to install brutal dictators in coups, and other acts of murder-for-money;
10) however, in these cases there is a generally benefit, or lack of substantial harm, to the entire wealthy class (not just the "winners" extracting money from all the "losers" in a mini-crash);
11) furthermore, the actions will retrospectively be justified as positive in the media (the brutal dictators become "moderate reformers allied with the West"),
12) so that by the time lines of "conspiracy" are drawn in the public mind, it'll be "what's the big deal about Iran-Contra?," and the perpetrators will be able to openly continue their careers without being labeled murderous monsters

Based on these considerations, your conspiracy theory is of the "wild-assed" type, inconsistent with institutional patterns of "actual" conspiracy.

I appreciate the effort (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#43467399)

I appreciate the effort, but for all the well-chosen words in your post, it's nothing more than a restatement of your initial position.

I see no reference to experience or external authority, no allusions to history or similar situations, and no compelling logical flow from a premise to a conclusion. It fairly reeks of sophistry [thefreedictionary.com] , using such vague terms as "large number of players", "overwhelming majority", and "number rapidly increases".

For contrast, a credible argument could have compared the amount of Cyprus gold with the world total amount, or cited previous (ie - historical) stock market drops with similar causes and drawn an analogy with the present situation. Facts and reference combine to make a powerful argument.

In short, you've added nothing to your premise, which is essentially attacking the person while hand-waving and storytelling.

I knew what your position was, the challenge was to defend it.

A troll would not have done more than you did. This was rather easy. When you attacked the person instead of the argument, it became shooting fish in a barrel.

Contradicting Betteridge (2)

organgtool (966989) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466329)

Sorry, Betteridge, but I have to agree with this headline. When I first learned of the bombing, I attempted to get to footage of the live feed. When I clicked on the link, I was treated to an upbeat commercial with two guys joking around and playing guitar in an attempt to sell Geico insurance. I thought there must be some mistake because no one in their right mind would force a viewer to watch commercials before getting news about a tragedy, but sure enough the live feed proceeded after the commercial. Humanity has commercialized tragedy much sooner than I expected.

Re:Contradicting Betteridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466625)

That's a little unfair. Those sites are programmed to show ads regardless of the content you are attempting to access. News channels will break away for commercials as well.

Re:Contradicting Betteridge (1)

organgtool (966989) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466975)

That's a little unfair. Those sites are programmed to show ads regardless of the content you are attempting to access.

Ok, I'll give you that. But I hope this puts a fire under their asses to change the behavior for breaking news on tragedies.

News channels will break away for commercials as well.

There were no commercials during the coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing as well as 9/11. If the news is important enough to interrupt the current broadcast for live coverage, they traditionally stick with the live coverage and don't try to commercialize the tragedy.

Re:Contradicting Betteridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466787)

Surely it was a default to show a commercial before any feed, regardless of what it is? (I don't know anything about the way these sites set up their streams.)

No (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466503)

No tech "journalists" did not. The media did.

One thing wrong about this is taking people on Twitter's word for it. Twitter and other social networks are the web equivalent of everyone shouting OMG ponies except it's not ponies.....

Slashdot just as guilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466703)

Add Slashdot to the list of websites posting content outside their area of expertise.

Lost Freedom Pisses People off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43466907)

I am not surprised at all. They could have acted like free press and been fighting for our constitution and bill of rights. But instead, PROFIT$

What are they supposed to do? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43466939)

Not provide as much coverage out of a sense of good taste?

No mention of Gawker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43467327)

Surprised Gawker wasn't mention in the list what with their almost immediate take on blaming "right-wing" groups for the bombing. Disgusting. There comment section is full of some of the most vile people on the internet.

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