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Blaming Reddit and kickstarting a cure: top stories this week


Is Reddit to blame for the false accusation that shook the Tripathi family? How did reporters figure out that J.K. Rowling was publishing under a pseudonym? Is Netflix leading the way into the future of TV? And how did a crowdfunding site for rare diseases get started? Theses are some of the questions raised by the stories we picked as some of the top tech reads on the web.

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Should Reddit be blamed for the spreading of a smear?

The hunt for the Boston bombers may be over, but the effect of the social media witch hunt lives on. The New York Times tracks how deceased student Sunil Tripathi was falsely identified as a suspect, sharing the story of his family and the team behind Reddit, in an attempt to explain how crowdsourcing and the real-time web lead to conclusions that were so very, very wrong.

Kickstarting a cure

While a colossal amount of funding and scientific brilliance is poured into working on a cure for cancer, what are the chances of somebody researching a rare genetic disease that only affects one in three-billion people? That’s a problem faced by many families who spend years just looking for a name for the disorder affecting their loved ones. Noah Rosenberg documents their stories and that of a doctor who is giving them hope through a crowdfunding website designed to help them gather the money needed for expensive genetic testing.

How forensic linguistics outed J.K. Rowling (not to mention James Madison, Barack Obama, and the rest of us)

It started with an anonymous tip on Twitter that suggested newbie crime author Robert Galbraith was in fact J.K. Rowling, and ended with a confession from the Harry Potter creator herself. But before that, linguistic experts were asked to investigate if there was any truth to the claim by comparing Galbraith’s novel to Rowling’s own works — right down to the individual words used in the books. Virginia Hughes explains the technology behind the analysis and how you can’t hide from the data.

TV foresees its future. Netflix is there

With everyone waiting for the next move in TV (c’mon, Apple and Google), tech giants are going to have to manage the tricky business of providing quality shows to their customers without making enemies of Hollywood. But Netflix seems to have pulled it off already. With so many shifts in the industry, a future is coming where consumers will think the ability to watch what they want whenever and wherever is not negotiable — but where will this leave the networks?

Image: Eva Blue via Flickr.

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