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Brian Knappenberger talks about his new film, the life and legacy of Aaron Swartz, and the troubling trends that survive the Internet activist.

The Internet’s Own Boy details how F.B.I. and Secret Service agents went after members of Swartz’s inner circle. Knappenberger says, “They told Aaron’s father they wanted to make an example out of him, but an example of what? What kind of behavior were they trying to deter? The majority of Aaron’s activity was about social organizing and getting people involved in their government. The notion that Aaron was some sort of quasi-celebrity hacker who needed to be made an example of is absurd and unsophisticated.”

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Brian Knappenberger talks about his new film, the life and legacy of Aaron Swartz, and the troubling trends that survive the Internet activist.

The Internet’s Own Boy details how F.B.I. and Secret Service agents went after members of Swartz’s inner circle. Knappenberger says, “They told Aaron’s father they wanted to make an example out of him, but an example of what? What kind of behavior were they trying to deter? The majority of Aaron’s activity was about social organizing and getting people involved in their government. The notion that Aaron was some sort of quasi-celebrity hacker who needed to be made an example of is absurd and unsophisticated.”

Read More>

From his analyses, Olson has seen that a new post needs to be submitted onto a subreddit when posting activity is low. A new post has the best chance of getting upvoted when Reddit is at its weakest. This generally happens at around 7:00 a.m. EST.

Reverse Engineering The Reddit Coup

Recently, the social news site’s moderators declared war on several socially toxic subreddits. Here we reconstruct how they leveraged Reddit’s secret algorithms to do it.

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Daily Fast Feed Roundup

Good morning Tumblr! Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know today: 

  • Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that NYC is now at the “forefront of the digital revolution” with its new .nyc domain.
  • On July 18 government agencies and a who’s who of Wall Street, including Citibank, Bank of America, and Homeland Security will host cyber war games in preparation for digital megathreats.

Have a great day!

M. Cecelia Bittner and Jessica Hullinger

[Image: Flickr user cumi&ciki]

Daily Fast Feed Roundup
Hello Tumblr! Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know today: 

The Ellen Degeneres Show and Nike are among the most successful brands on Instagram.  
North and South Korean websites suffered outages due to a cyber attack allegedly made by the hacker group Anonymous.
A European official has ruled that Google should be treated like a host, not a publisher. Therefore, it is not obliged to remove content produced by others. 
Barnes & Noble is trying to save money by ceasing in-house production of its Nook readers.
Samsung’s cheap plastic casings may be on the way out. They just linked up with a firm that specializes in carbon fiber. 
Reddit is now hosting a linguistic project that maps the various Arabic languages found throughout the Middle East and Africa.
Have a great day! —M. Cecelia Bittner and Jessica Hullinger

Daily Fast Feed Roundup

Hello Tumblr! Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know today: 

  • A European official has ruled that Google should be treated like a host, not a publisher. Therefore, it is not obliged to remove content produced by others. 


Have a great day! —M. Cecelia Bittner and Jessica Hullinger

The Growth Of Subreddit “Findbostonbomber”

Inside Reddit’s user community, an enthusiastic amateur forensics subculture grew exponentially once the subreddit was formed. When Fast Company reported on the subreddit’s existence at the beginning of the week, it had approximately 870 subscribers; more than 9,000 Redddit users now patronize the site. The hunt for the Boston bombers on Reddit appears to have been the Internet’s largest crowdsourced crime-solving exercise to date—regardless of law enforcement’s feelings about it.

Despite the presence of racist and anti-right wing trolls, Reddit users did find a number of important clues. Sleuths on Reddit identified the hat worn by one of the bombers; the same thread also featured the highest resolution pictures of one of the bombing suspects to date—which was flagged by Reddit users as potential evidence.

Reddit, The Lynch Mob, And The Known Unknowns

One of the biggest ramifications of the Reddit crowdsourcing effort was the incorrect identification of suspects.

For all of the benign intent shown by (most) members of the Reddit community, they were still amateurs conducting a terrorism investigation in an extremely public forum. In a deleted thread on a non-terrorism investigation-related subreddit, users speculated that a missing Brown University student was a terror suspect. Someone, either trolling on Twitter or not understanding a police communication, said that student was named as the second bomber over a police scanner. That wasn’t the case. This student was named, and his family was harassed in short order. A family with a missing child was harassed by unknown internet users who thought they were doing good, all because of the crowdsourced investigation.

Benjamin Levine, the Boston man whose photograph was recycled for a controversialNew York Post cover, emailed Fast Company's repoter Neal Ungerleider with an interesting take on things: “My pictures were used to thrust blame on people who had absolutely nothing to do with the tragedy. One notable examples of this was the New York Post's front page on April 18. The Post asked for my permission to use my photos. Instead of asking for more information on how they intended to use them, I blindly gave them permission. This was a mistake and led to them using my pictures to suggest that a high-schooler played a part in the bombings. They did this even after he was apparently acquitted of any charges of involvement. I am so sorry for the part that I played in ruining this boys life. I want nothing more than to apologize to his face.”

“I’ve been trying hard not to judge the “sleuths” on Reddit who have been dissecting my photographs and others to try and find clues. I think that a vast majority are people just trying to help out. So many people have been trying to help out in many ways and Boston is so thankful for that.”

"Also, I’m sure some of the people who have been on Reddit were in a position similar to mine. Some were probably much closer to the bombs and are far more shaken than me. Some who didn’t take pictures may be using mine to help themselves cope. I hope that they can help at least one person in what is undoubtedly going to be a long process for many of us."

"One thing that does worry me is that a few "sleuths" on Reddit may be using this as an opportunity to have a little fun playing detective. People deal with tragedy in different ways, and its hard to fault people for getting by in their own way, but I can’t bear to look at the threads on Reddit."

Meanwhile, the million dollar question everyone is asking—but noone can answer at this junction—is how much actual law enforcement investigations leveraged from the crowdsourced Reddit and 4chan efforts. Were law enforcement officials scouring Reddit for leads, alternate approaches, or verification? We won’t know the answer for quite a while, but it’s hard to believe the FBI or Massachusetts State Police weren’t sneaking quick looks at either site.

We’ve got an excerpt from Alexis Ohanian’s book “Make Something People Love,” it’s a worthy read:

Everyone talks about putting users first, and that’s their problem. Don’t talk about it, don’t market it. Just do it. That’s the most compelling thing you can do. And it’s even more important if you’ve got a user-driven website, because your website is going to be worthless unless you’ve got users.
The Pareto Principle applies here: about 80% of all the traffic and all the content on reddit is generated by 20% of the user base or less (and this holds for every user-generated site out there). The majority of people visiting the site are never even logged in. That means almost all of the valuable content on your website is generated by a very small percentage of your user base. In fact, it’s now widely considered to be the “1% rule" where 1% of traffic is actually creating content online.

How Reddit Built Its Empire On 500 Bucks, Stickers, And Giving People What They Want

We’ve got an excerpt from Alexis Ohanian’s book “Make Something People Love,” it’s a worthy read:

Everyone talks about putting users first, and that’s their problem. Don’t talk about it, don’t market it. Just do it. That’s the most compelling thing you can do. And it’s even more important if you’ve got a user-driven website, because your website is going to be worthless unless you’ve got users.

The Pareto Principle applies here: about 80% of all the traffic and all the content on reddit is generated by 20% of the user base or less (and this holds for every user-generated site out there). The majority of people visiting the site are never even logged in. That means almost all of the valuable content on your website is generated by a very small percentage of your user base. In fact, it’s now widely considered to be the “1% rule" where 1% of traffic is actually creating content online.

How Reddit Built Its Empire On 500 Bucks, Stickers, And Giving People What They Want