kottke.org posts about Craigslist

Murder by CraigslistSep 05 2013

Hanna Rosin writes about Murder by Craigslist, the story of a killer who advertised for victims on Craigslist in order to steal their possessions.

Davis wasn't the only person to answer the Craigslist ad. More than 100 people applied for the caretaker job -- a fact that Jack was careful to cite in his e-mails back to the applicants. He wanted to make sure that they knew the position was highly sought-after. Jack had a specific type of candidate in mind: a middle-aged man who had never been married or was recently divorced, and who had no strong family connections. Someone who had a life he could easily walk away from. "If picked I will need you to start quickly," he would write in his e-mails.

Jack painstakingly designed the ad to conjure a very particular male fantasy: the cowboy or rancher, out in the open country, herding cattle, mending fences, hunting game -- living a dream that could transform a post-recession drifter into a timeless American icon. From the many discarded drafts of the ad that investigators later found, it was clear that Jack was searching for just the right pitch to catch a certain kind of man's eye. He tinkered with details-the number of acres on the property, the idea of a yearly bonus and paid utilities-before settling on his final language: "hilly," "secluded," "job of a lifetime." If a woman applied for the job, Jack wouldn't bother responding. If a man applied, he would ask for the critical information right off the bat: How old are you? Do you have a criminal record? Are you married?

Jack seemed drawn to applicants who were less formal in their e-mail replies, those who betrayed excitement, and with it, vulnerability. "I was raised on a farm as a boy and have raised some of my own cattle and horses as well," wrote one. "I'm still in good shape and not afraid of hard work! I really hope you can give me a chance. If for some reason I wouldn't work out for you no hard feelings at all. I would stick with you until you found help. Thank you very much, George."

This was your standard well-written crime story until about 2/3rds of the way through when Rosin highlights a societal trend that more deeply connects the victims with their killer.

I was initially drawn to the story of the Beasley murders because I thought it would illuminate the isolation and vulnerability of so many working-class men, who have been pushed by the faltering economy from one way of life -- a nine-to-five job, a wife, children -- into another, far more precarious one: unemployed or underemployed, single or divorced, crashing on relatives' spare beds or in the backseats of cars. At what other moment in history would it have been plausible for a serial killer to identify middle-aged white men as his most vulnerable targets?

But what I discovered in the course of my reporting was something quite different. As traditional family structures are falling apart for working-class men, many of them are forging new kinds of relationships: two old high-school friends who chat so many times a day that they need to buy themselves walkie-talkies; a father who texts his almost-grown sons as he goes to bed at night and as he wakes up in the morning.

There's a bit more to it than but I don't want to spoil it for you...the entire piece is worth a read.

Craigslist TVOct 07 2010

Earlier this year, Craigslist started an online TV program about the users of the their site. For each episode, they choose an interesting CL post and basically tape the results. The newest episode is about a woman who wanted to give away an accordian...but each prospective taker had to audition in front of the whole group at dinner.

This is one of those ideas that seems so obvious in retrospect that you wonder why it took so long to happen.

Living on CraigslistJan 21 2010

Jason Paul lives off of Craigslist and is documenting the whole thing on his blog.

What does that mean exactly? I have made some ground rules that I will be living by over the year. Here they are:

- I will start with $2,500 that I've saved during college
- I will have a car, a phone, a computer and cameras to document the trip
- I am not allowed to live out of my car
- I am not allowed to live with someone I know for longer than a week at the beginning of each city
- I am allowed one large bag containing clothes and a few staple foods
- I am not allowed to initiate contact with someone unless it is through an online interaction

This means, put simply, I will find jobs, housing, friends, food and other necessities entirely via Craigslist.

Update: Craigslist Joe is a documentary film with the same premise. (thx, dennis)

Missed connections, illustratedSep 25 2009

I really like Sophie Blackall's illustrations of missed connections ads from Craiglist and other sites. The style reminds me a bit of Maira Kalman.

Sophie Blackall

If this were on Tumblr, she'd already have a book deal.

Update: About that book thing:

Ms. Blackall's whimsical drawings have also caught the attention of publishers: She says she's currently negotiating a deal to create a book of her illustrations, which would likely land on shelves sometime in the next year to 18 months.

No meetings at CraigslistAug 26 2009

From a long piece by Gary Wolf in Wired about Craigslist and Craig Newmark, a glimpse of the tiny firm's internal working structure:

The long-running tech-industry war between engineers and marketers has been ended at craigslist by the simple expedient of having no marketers. Only programmers, customer service reps, and accounting staff work at craigslist. There is no business development, no human resources, no sales. As a result, there are no meetings. The staff communicates by email and IM. This is a nice environment for employees of a certain temperament. "Not that we're a Shangri-La or anything," Buckmaster says, "but no technical people have ever left the company of their own accord."

I also enjoyed this line: "the public is a motherfucker".

Theft with help from craigslistOct 09 2008

A man dressed as a road maintenance worker robbed an armored car in Washington State. As part of his getaway plan, he hired some people via Seattle craigslist to also dress up as road maintenance workers and mill around where the armored car was located.

"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," one of the unwitting decoys, named Mike, said to the NBC station. As it turns out, they were simply placed there to confuse cops who were looking for a guy wearing a virtually identical outfit.

The thief then escaped down a river on an inner tube. (thx, greg)

Craigslist desperately needs something like Listpic...simpleNov 17 2006

Craigslist desperately needs something like Listpic...simple pages of thumbnails from CL ads by category. Here's the page for NYC furniture.

Where do Craigslist's Missed Connections occur inOct 04 2006

Where do Craigslist's Missed Connections occur in NYC? Gawker has the breakdown by location and subway line.

Andy on some recent baiting of peopleSep 09 2006

Andy on some recent baiting of people looking for sex on Craigslist. "In a staggering move, he then published every single response, unedited and uncensored, with all photos and personal information to [the web]."

Interview with Jim Buckmaster, who gives usJun 19 2006

Interview with Jim Buckmaster, who gives us an update on what Craiglist is up to. "If I look across the Internet at the big Internet companies, there's a large proportion of their staff that are devoted in various ways to trying to maximize revenue. Those employees I don't think are delivering much bang for the buck to the end user."

Anil on the conservatism of liberalism (byFeb 06 2006

Anil on the conservatism of liberalism (by way of explaining why Craigslist is taking away everyone else's classifieds business). "A complete unwillingness to be critical, an almost astoundingly low set of criteria for acceptance -- these aren't the traits that encourage a community or a culture to improve."

Wanna go work for Thomas Keller? PerAug 24 2005

Wanna go work for Thomas Keller? Per Se is using Craigslist to fill some server openings in the front of the house.

NYC Craigslist computer services offered: "Will readAug 11 2005

NYC Craigslist computer services offered: "Will read and comment (semi-intelligently) on your blog for $2". There's a five comment minimum with future comments for free (!!) if your site is entertaining enough. (via lia (rhymes!)) Update: doh, the page has expired. It was pretty funny though, sorry you missed it.

A craigslist missed connection for any ofAug 05 2005

A craigslist missed connection for any of the hot women who were in the audience for Edward Tufte's lecture. Not too picky, this guy, he'll take any beautiful woman who was there. Quick, someone snap him up before he makes another sparklines pun.

How craigslist has changed NYCJul 25 2005

How craigslist has changed NYC.

Tags related to Craigslist:
NYC craignewmark weblogs crime

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