Collective actions and collisions on the net.

Archive for the ‘cases’ Category

Case: The hunt of the mysterious advertisement love seeker in Finland

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The biggest newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, had 29.3.2009 an extraordinary full page ad costing about 20 000 euros. Anonymous person was seeking a woman seen a month ago at restaurant Mecca in Helsinki. Normally these kind of requests are put on the Personal -section and much more cheaper. The original ad with english translation here by 1541.

Many readers thought that it was just a campaign ad instead of personal announcement. At the same time number service Fonecta had quite similar campaign in tv channels. Also MTV3 has started to promo its new tv series about tracking missing people.

But Helsingin Sanomat (HS) insisted, that that the ad was not a part of any commercial campaign and really from anonymous person. Also, HS told that the announcer does not give any interviews and will not come to the publicity. He just hopes that the lost woman might contact to email address lostyouinhelsinki (at)

MuroBBS is the home of the net detectives in Finland. I’ll cover later in my blog some brilliantly solved cases by MuroBBS. In MuroBBS and in Futisforum, for example, were tested the gmail address. They faked to forgot the password and Google asked in Russian about the register number of a car. Also, someone managed to fake Google itself and got secondary address of lostyouinhelsinki (at) That leaded to www site under Geocities and after some fiddling to consumer sector director of Philips in Russia. Need to emphasize, the person working in Philips is just a wild guess and maybe totally wrong lead. Iltalehti covers these ‘findings’ as facts without any mentioning to MuroBBS, Futisforum or other actual net detective sources.

In that phase, Reijo Aarnio, Data Protection Ombudsman of Finland, started to comment the case. – In my point of view, they are playing with fire, he told to Iltalehti.

The mystery is not solved yet. But it might be the case, where the privilegies of the proam net detectives is tested. I’ll cover the case if it has any solutions. Today there has not been any achievements, maybe due to the April fools’ day.

Update 09-04-01 17:55+2 GMT: Ilta-Sanomat published today details in its print version full page coverage about the mysterious ad love seeker. Claimed to be ~40-years old business man, Ilta-Sanomat made detailed profile – althought without any named sources. Ilta-Sanomat thinks this is a solution to the mystery.

The interesting part with this case is – again – how pro journalists use more and more the work of proam net detectives, googling and other net resources without any hesitation or proofing the gathered information. Is the only skill needed to be professional journalist just the ability to make some simple googling nowadays? Ordinary people on the net can do it faster and better.

Update 09-04-02 17:26+2 GMT:
Ilta-Sanomat published today a flowchart how the mysterious ad seeker might have seen the mysterious lady. At least two woman have identified herself as the mysterious lady. One of them in www forum of Vauva-lehti. She writes, that she is actually scaring the man who has so much money that can do so desperate things like whole page ad.

Update 09-04-03 17:26 +2 GMT:
Anonymous Finnish male ITC milionaire seeks escort wife on the web recruitment service Obviously April fools’ day prank, but it reached almost 8 000 reades.

Update 09-04-03 09:40 +2 GMT:
Hollywood director Renny Harlin (originated from Finland) has got two ads and love confessions in Personal -section of Helsingin Sanomat from anonymous Leena Leijona (after April fools’ day).

Written by kariahintikka

April 1, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Introduction to the case #myyrmanni – identity solving of the suicide bomber 2002

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Here is a compact introduction to the case #myyrmanni in Finland 11.10.2002. Seven people died and over 80 injured accidentally or planned due to heavy homemade with shrapnels bomb exploded in the backpack of the teenager (who died also) on the suburbian Myyrmanni shopping center .

It is very obvious to make expectations and speculations about the connections to the school spree killers and Columbine branch (Jokela 2007 and Kauhajoki 2008 cases in Finland), But this Myyrmanni case 2002 was well before the Columbine and it maybe was an accident. Sounds like a suicide bomber launched his arsenal accidentally, by run into the clown on the mall, but well, real life is amazing. We will never know how the lethal backpack exploded – with or without the assistance of the owner of the stuff.

Myyrmanni is also one of the key cases in my article-based PhD at University of Jyväskylä on the department of sociology. I will cover some details of this case of the netcrowd later in this blog, including the inner dynamics and the roles in the netcrowd. One of my primary material in this case and my PhD is over 27 000 lines of log of the irc channel lines with over 2000 participators, althought most of them are lurkers (1-9-90), as always.

In my pov, there are several leads and findings with this case, how the netcrowd differs and actually *do* things compared for example to the instant classic of the Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. Also, these findings reflect straight for example to the classic works of Robert D. Putnam (social capital; binding and bridging ties) and Mark Granovetter (strong and weak ties). Open social networks like netcrowds have more nuanced relationships and ties than just bonding / bridging or strong / weak.

With Ossi Leander, we reconstrued for the biggest newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat (HS), what happened on the netcrowd side. How the netcrowd solved the identity of the suicider approximately at the same time than both police and media?

Just for the sake of no-repeating or copy-paste, here is the english and published version of our timetable article of the case #myyrmanni, originally in Finnish.

After Tianamen 1989, Seattle 1999 and Manila 2001, this #myyrmanni case was the very first what kicked me off: is there some kind of pattern with these cases, or inside the cases some phases like project-based coordinative actions or so? For example, Tarmo Toikkanen has the brilliant blog marking about waterfall project model and its quests.

Do common people make these efforts ad hoc and start always from the zero point? Are there some replicable or reproducible features for success of the netcrowd? In this blog, I’ll cover these issues deeper.

Written by kariahintikka

March 26, 2009 at 5:58 pm

The pre-era of the netcrowd: from Tiananmen 1989 to Manila 2001 – revolutions of the devices

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After Tiananmen informer phone blocking 1989, my research interest with the netcrowd arouse again as late as 2002. There were some cases in-between indeed. For example Graham Meikle has covered in Future Active (2002) how Seattle demonstrations were organized extremely fluidily and self-repairingly in 1999. Howard Rheingold introduced in Smart Mobs (2002) the case of Manila – peaceful revolution with sms.

However, these cases were more or less well-organised spectacles by new social movements (NSM) than actual cases of the netcrowds. On the other hand, they *have* many similar features that later emerged in netcrowds cases, like self-repairing autonomous cybernetic systems. Also the Tiananmen faxes has to be put into this branch: NSMs using nu/lotek innovatively and self-organized themselves like distributed networks – or – the net 🙂

Obvisously, there might be many other cases, but these three are the ones I have spotted so far in this level of activity.

So, cases of Tiananmen 1989, Seattle 1999 and Manila 2001 could be treated as the pre-era of the actual netcrowd phenomenon. Also, NSMs have opponents, shared beliefs and other distinctive features like Daniella della Porta and Mario Diani have classically defined. Netcrowd in most cases lacks everything of the definion of NSM. Anyway, I put in that time – just after Millenium – all these case to the same trough: hacktivism in the material world enhanced with physical bodies and flexible devices.

That was before the #myyrmanni case. I suppose that no-one of the over 2 000 participants had ever experienced anything that kind Internet Hunt (invented by Rick Gates) before. But that time Internet Hunt was for real.

The first case: The Tiananmen faxes and Usenet 1989

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The very first time I met netcrowd phenomenon in action, was 1989. I was Secretary of Information and Internet Affairs of Student Union of University of Helsinki. Yes, there were quite a much net activism at those times, like GreenNet and PeaceNet.

One of the über student activist of Finland at those times, Raino Ollila (r.i.p.) came to me with very anxious mode with blank and fully printed papers.

– Kari, have you ever heard about Usenet? he urged.

– Yes, why?

– Fine. Now we need to send blank papers via every faxes we have on the office to these numbers. Here is also a list of phone numbers. Can we call to all of them at the same time?

– Not officially and not with my traits, but, well…

– Ok, let,s start with the faxes.

– Gzee, there will be fine phone bill to student union with these numbers, I sortly asked. – Are we going fax white papers to South Pole?

– Yes? I’m the Minister of International Affairs. Just go to faxes and start to send. Usenet will tell us what is happening. Go!

Later, when we found our way to proper Usenet group with our modest 1200 bps modem, the big picture start to brighten. Or at least to unfold. There was something really complicated happening in Tiananmen square. There were fifly official informer telephone lines waiting to possible students and others to inform about thestudent  participants of the situation on the Square.

But, someone innovative person has got the idea: what if people, mostly in student movement, collectively start to block these fifty phone numbers around the globe with calling, faxes and modems? Of course, there will be more phone lines etc. But, eventually, there might be a tipping point, when it is more complicated to set up new numbers and announce them than to block them. And the back channels to coordinate this action and spread the numbers realtime were Usenet and FidoNet.

That was the moment when I started to interest about the emerging netcrowd and internet as a platform of self-organizing masses.

Written by kariahintikka

March 5, 2009 at 8:06 pm

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