Apr 30, 2007

Virgina Tech Murderer Killed Web 2.0

Many claim that Seung-Hui Cho, the murderer responsible for the Virginia Tech Massacre on April 16th 2007, is an example of the growing power of the Web 2.0 culture of personal video and manifestos, self made and self distributed globally through the net.

In fact, Seung-Hui case has nothing to do with Web 2.0 and the new viral video culture. Why? Cause Hui used the mail - meaning regular mail, a real envelope to send his “multimedia package” to a national television station. He did not upload it - he chose to manually mail it. Why else Seung-Hui is not Web 2.0? Cause he used a DVD, classic video format easily made and hardly shrunk. Very un-web and very far from Youtube or Meta Café, the popular "default" video distribution systems. Also - Seung-Hui did not upload his manifesto to a blog. He printed it old fashion way, assembling the text and photos using a PDF file. He also didn't use web applications such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets. To be frank - Cho uploaded nothing to the net and had nothing to do with it while planning and committing his horrific manslaughter.

Seung-Hui Cho, VT Murderer in NBC

Not only that he secluded YouTube from his package, he picked, from all the medias available - NBC, and by that proving that even a maniacal murderer wishes to go public in the most traditional manner, with a commentator voice following him. Real news go apparently to real default distributors - the national TV networks. Moreover - I believe that had the murderer uploaded his videos to YouTube the website might have censored it and call it unsolicited material due to its harsh decent content policy. Accordingly, had Seung sent the package to NBC by email, they may very well would have ignored it. To be realistic it might have even gone unnoticed for weeks, because of the enormous amount of email that the network receives every day. Had there was a video attachment NBC almost certainly would have regarded it as spam. Come to think about it a package like that would have had all the spam meta tags possible for the automatic spam killer filters get ride of it: low quality video attachment, harsh words such as "Virginia" and "Tech" and "gun" written in it, and above all the legitimate fear of the spam robot that an impostor to Seung-Hui could have send the mail.

This actually reminds us that since established, no truly original news video has ever been uploaded exclusively to YouTube or to Google Video (or to any other viral video website). YouTube always gets the historically significant videos from the big networks after they were already aired nationally.

So here Seung-Hui wins twice: first he uses a big network to get the maximum image quality broadcast (and YouTube too in the backdoor) and secondly he uses regular mail to make sure that the package will not go unnoticed. Indeed NBC news room received the ironically erred postcode envelope a couple of days after the act and immediately identified it, humanly wise, in the post room and kicked it up stairs.

Norris Hall, Virginia Tech Campus

Again it is proven, maybe too clearly, that when you send printed photos and a DVD people that receive it are bounded to look at it. Decisively enough it shows the non relevance of the web as a first hand update network, exposing its naked hype and high false hops of becoming more significant and influential than television. No act can be less Web 2.0 than Seung-Hui Cho’s one. It is unimaginable how it could have gone any other way. Bottom line and fundamentally so, the mass murderer used classic communicating methods and not new ones.

It’s not only technically difficult to upload\email large files and to get them watched uncensored. The setbacks that made Cho put his manifesto in an envelope and go to a close-by post office have to do with instinct thinking and basic human "sane" behavior in extreme situations. This is why I offer to psychologically eliminate the theory of the necessity of Web 2.0 applications and or their connection to basic human behavior.

Essentially - again, an envelope was unfolded here. It seems that no personally created news can ever be emailed. They must be placed in an envelope and sent to their national respirators to get real attention. Cho case proves that the new concept of personally created and published news is false. To use the blunt activist term here - "the revolution will be televised", probably nationally. Seung-Hui Cho brutally killed 32 students in Virginia tech but he also killed the hype and frenzy that surrounded Web 2.0 in the past couple of months.

If wikipedia is the mechanism that most symbolizes Web 2.0 culture, it is save to say that Cho won in this arena as well. While most of the Virginia Tech victims articles are up for deletion on the not notable cause, Seung-Hui Cho article is save and sound, it's significant clear and it's editing blocked, accessibly only to elder editors, such as (allegorically speaking) the NBC news editors.


Nimrod Kamer, May 2007

Article in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth - YNET, 29.04.2007


Virginia Tech Massacre in Wikipeidaa
Seung-Hui Cho video from the NBC website
An example for a deletion vote on a wikipedia article on one of the victims