For the last decade or so I’ve been saying that searching and sorting are going to be key skills (and that these are things we really need to concentrate on in CS Education).
For about as long, I’ve also thought that most people don’t really know how to search.
Here’s a very short primer. It’s amazing what you can find (and find out) if you are good at searching and assessing.
We need a new name for this skill: Googlography? Journalology?
Here’s how it’s done:
Daedalus explained the process he used to try and answer the same questions asked by all professional journalists—the who, what, when, where, why and how of Tuesday night’s shooting.
“Another user first discovered an Instagram account containing some photos of the party,” Daedalus explained. “One of the labels was ‘HENNESSY BBQ’ or something like that. The pictures depicted a gathering of 50-100 people (visible, at least) on a house lawn. The photos were also tagged with the name of a major intersection nearby. Deduced that this must have been the party where it happened.”
From there Daedalus searched variants of the terms ‘bbq’, ‘hennessy’, ‘morningside’ and ‘party’. Eventually, he was able to locate the Twitter account of someone who had been tweeting about a Hennessy party” since early July. From there, he caught sight of a post by the same user tweeting at someone else in which he claimed that it was ‘his party’ on ‘dblock’ (Danzig St.).
As early police and news reports began to stream in, the social media wizard worked through the night. Describing his methodological process, he explained:
“A sample workflow (to try and identify the individuals) would have gone something like:
- Search a term related to the event
- Scour results page, identify people who are tweeting about it
- For each person X who tweeted about the event, check all their tweets
- Document any seemingly related findings
- For all tweets on page, identify account Y who contacted X
- Repeat process from step 3 for Y
- Etc etc etc, repeat”
His approach, said Daedalus, is based on a philosophy that, “everything is text (searchable) and a link indicated a relationship (possibly between people, context dependent.)” These links, he says, are “surprisingly powerful.”
So powerful in fact, that Daedalus was able to correctly identify the host of the party, and many of the victims—including the two deceased.