Cho-TV, day 2
Thursday, April 19, 2007 by Dave Winer.
When it came out yesterday that Cho, the Virginia Tech killer, had sent 23 QuickTime videos to NBC in NY, that changed forever how I thought about blogging, video, podcasting, etc. When I first put up the post, Steve Garfield sent an email saying he didn't think it was vlogging, but I'm not so sure. Whatever it is, there's an amateur using the new tools, not for good, but horribly, for bad.
Some people say that if NBC were to release the videos, completely and exactly as Cho produced them, this would spawn copycats. That's a valid opinion of course, but I don't see why. We don't know what's on the videos. And do you think anyone who wanted to see them hasn't seen enough to get the basic idea? Maybe the copycat will strike because Cho's video didn't get broad distribution, and they have an easy shot at outdoing him. I don't know how the mind of a mass killer works, if anyone does.
I said we hadn't forseen this use of the technology because, as utopians, we tend to look for the good stuff. I liked to think I had a balanced view, and could see where bloggers weren't doing good, but I hadn't seriously considered our tools used to further such a bad cause.
What's next? Isn't it obvious -- the latest and greatest stuff, Ustream, Twitter and mass murder. When you see a suicide bomber with a camera strapped to his or her head, you'll know that the bad has caught up with the good.
Reuters looks at questions raised for newsrooms about social media and events like the Virginia Tech killings.
Reuters asks if they should accept amateur video, when doing so might encourage others to take risks they otherwise wouldn't. I think that's an easy call. They should accept video from anyone who's credible. They should stop seeing themselves as parental to amateur reporters. They also say no amateur ever dies covering a story. They can't have it both ways. They accept video from professional reporters who take risks, so they should treat amateurs equally.
Rob Sama: "At this point given that NBC has done a partial release, they should just finish the job and go with WinerÕs suggestion. But NBC's attempt to split the difference between the two opposing schools of thought, both of which make valid points IMO, wound up embracing the worst aspects of both. As it now stands Cho has his stardom and the public doesn't have enough information to figure it all out."
Frank Shaw says if he had received the videos, he would have turned them over to the police without airing them. What would you do if you had to make the call?
I've heard it said we're exploiting other people's pain. I suppose almost any event could be spun that way. For example, when the President says we should wait six months before judging his troop surge, a lot of people are going to die because of that, and anyone who is critical of his plan might be seen as exploiting their pain. It's in times of crisis like this that we learn the most about our values and how they compare to others. A lot of learning happens. There are always people calling foul, so be it. (People used to say who was I to write about tech, then they said I shouldn't write about politics. I said don't read it if you don't like it.)
Paul Andrews: "Cho undoubtedly did not want NBC to censor the materials. But he apparently, naively or stupidly, sent only one copy out. So NBC owns the rights, unfortunately."
Time: "How much Cho to show?"