Earlier today I read (via blogdex) the tale of a woman named Judith and her camera that was lost, then found, but still (paradoxically) remains lost. I thought it was interesting, but didn't consider it might be a hoax. However, several people have emailed me about it, so I thought I'd take a closer look at it. Here's the jist of the tale.
Judith lost her camera while on vacation in Hawaii. Back home she decided to create a photo blog of her vacation using pictures found on Flickr of the places she visited. About two weeks into this blog, she posts this message
, explaining that she had received a call from a Hawaiian park ranger telling her that her camera had been found by a Canadian couple. Judith called the Canadian couple, only to learn that they didn't want to return the camera because their son (who happens to have diabetes) found it and now considers it to be his lucky camera. So Judith remains camera-less. The behavior of the Canadian couple has outraged netizens.
In terms of evaluating whether any of this is true, there's not, at first glance, much to go on. We kind of have to take Judith's word that what she's saying is true. But what I found most curious was how quickly Judith's blog went from being extremely obscure, to being all over the internet. Usually if you can figure out who's spreading a story, that will shed some light on whether or not a story is true. In this case, it wasn't hard to figure out how the story spread so far, so fast.
Following a chain of links soon led back to the well-known blogger Anil Dash
, who seems to have been the first to post a link to Judith's lost-camera story. Boing Boing picked it up from him, and then it was all over the internet. Knowing this made it pretty easy to figure out that the Judith in question must be Judith Zissman
, San Francisco artist and creator of 20things.org
. (Anil mentions Judith Zissman elsewhere in his blog.) Judith is an artist, so maybe the lost camera blog is all an exercise in creative writing. (Wouldn't be the first time the internet has seen that.) But I doubt it. She seems fairly credible to me... and whether you believe the story is true all boils down to whether you believe Judith is telling the truth. I don't see any reason not to believe her. So for now I'm listing this as not a hoax.
(And in a separate story, Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing is now being threatened
by someone claiming to be the lawyer of the Canadian couple that took the camera. But it doesn't seem to be a real lawyer... just some random crackpot trying to get attention.)