1. Computing
Wendy Boswell

The Story of a Lost Camera...and the Power of the Web Community

By February 20, 2006

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This story, which is rapidly spiraling into something way bigger than just a lost camera, came through my Bloglines feeds this weekend (source: Lost Camera). Someone went to Hawaii, took a ton of pictures with her very expensive camera that she purchased specifically for the trip, but unfortunately she lost it. Good news is another family found it; bad news? They won't give it back because their kid really likes it. More from the site:
"We discussed the specifics of the camera, the brown pouch it was in, the spare battery and memory card, the yellow rubberband around the camera. It was clear it was my camera, and I was thrilled. "Well," she said, "we have a bit of a situation. You see, my nine year old son found your camera, and we wanted to show him to do the right thing, so we called, but now he's been using it for a week and he really loves it and we can't bear to take it from him." I listened, not sure where she was going with this. "And he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he's now convinced he has bad luck, and finding the camera was good luck, and so we can't tell him that he has to give it up. Also we had to spend a lot of money to get a charger and a memory card." It started to dawn on me that she had no intention of returning the camera."
And it gets better. The woman who stole (there's no other word) the camera reneged on their agreement to send back the memory cards and CD's because they "need the memory cards to operate the camera" and informed this poor lady that "You're lucky we sent you anything at all. Most people wouldn't do that."

Okay, so what does this have to do with the Internet and the "power of the Web community" as I so elequently titled this post? Just this:

  • This story was posted on BoingBoing, one of the most read blogs on the Web.
  • It was also posted at Gizmodo, another one of the most read blogs on the Web. Jason Kottke has also mentioned it, another prominent blogger.
  • Right now in Technorati there are at least 20 links to both these stories, and more coming. There are 109 links to the Lost Camera blog, and that doesn't look to stop anytime soon.
  • The Lost Camera story has been submitted to Digg - check it out at camera unlost, but not quite found.. 77 Diggs and counting, and again - not looking to stop anytime soon.
What's the point of all this? Well, I believe we have another potential Jeff Jarvis and Dell scenario on our hands with the way that people are getting absolutely FURIOUS over this story. For those of you who are not familiar with Jeff Jarvis's quibble with Dell, basically it boils down to Jarvis getting a defective, very expensive Dell machine, and Dell refusing to uphold their end of the customer service bargain to the extreme. However, instead of kicking the cat, Jeff decided to blog about it on his extremely popular blog - and people got mad, Dell had to apologize, and the Web community at large got a taste of power in numbers.

I have to admit I was shocked to read the Lost Camera story, and found myself wanting to get involved in some way. It's got all the elements of a truly viral Internet crusade, and seems to be taking on a life of it's own. I guess the biggest thing that struck me (past the incredibly inept parenting story) was this: think how this story would have flown in the pre-blogosphere days of the Web, where websites were websites and blogs were few and far between. Would the Lost Camera story been more than a blip in a solitary Web journal? That's what's fascinating to me; it's the viral nature of the Web in action.

Tawk Amongst Yourselves: Want to chime in on the Web buzz surrounding the Lost Camera story? Are you as addicted to the Web water cooler as I am? Let's talk about it in the forums.

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January 7, 2009 at 2:26 pm
(1) Ken says:

I am Canadian and believe that the theives in this story is giving us a bad name. I found a very expensive looking camera but it had a label on it that said “return for reward, call trackitback.” I called the number and they returned it back to the owner the same day. A week later I got a gift pack from the company and $50 cheque from the owner.

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