The Lost Camera Situation

Using digital technology is a great way to share life’s little adventures. A digital camera, a flickr account, and a blog are pretty much all you need, to show off those great vacation photos from Hawaii.

You don’t even have to actually take your own pictures. That’s sort of what someone named Judith decided she was going to do. She went on a trip to Hawaii and things were going great until she lost her very expensive camera.

However, since Flickr is full of pictures from Hawaii, she decided to create a trip journal with the pictures of strangers who had taken similar photographs. Things weren’t great but she was making the best of a bad situation.

But then something unexpected happened! Things were great again because she was contacted by someone (from Canada I might add) who had found a camera which fit the description perfectly.

But then things were bad again because the people with the camera decided they’d rather not do the right thing after all. (Can I just mention how embarrassing it is that they are from Canada?)

The Internet mob is raging and they want names, email addresses and police action! Judith has decided to refrain from publishing personal information but that doesn’t mean she’s not still trying to get her camera back.

And if that weren’t enough, check out this weird twist over at BoingBoing “some guy claiming to be a “lawer” (sic) is “threatening legal action” against Corry Doctorow for publishing the story. Apparently, the so-called barrister doesn’t know the difference between “libel” and “slander” nor does he apparently consider the part of the libel statute that requires that a plaintiff be referenced in a way that is identifiable to be a factor.

The reporters have started leaving comments on Judith’s blog asking for interviews. I predict that this is a story we’ll be hearing more about, and I hope that the crummy people change their mind and give back the camera. It’s the least they could do after making us Canadians look so bad.

2 replies on “The Lost Camera Situation”

To prevent link rot:

Charles Mandel, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, February 25, 2006

Canadians are in hot water over, of all things, a digital camera. In a U.S. blog, titled Lost Camera, a mysterious blogger called only Judith tells about the loss of her camera during a family vacation in Hawaii.

The good news is a Canadian family found the camera, a Pentax Optio S5i with a spare battery and two memory cards, valued at US$500.

The bad news is the family refused to return the camera, arguing that their nine-year-old son was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is convinced the camera is "good luck."

The story has captured the imagination of Web surfers, spreading across the Internet, aided in part by popular link sites such as Boing Boing and, which attract millions of readers.

Some skeptics opined the lost camera was nothing but a hoax. But Judith Zissman is a reluctant Internet star, who, until she spoke with CanWest News Service, ignored requests from American and Canadian media for interviews.

Her blog has received hundreds of comments — many of them anti-Canadian — from around the world, as well as offers of replacement cameras.

"Let’s go get those Canadian bastards and give them the thumping they deserve for their utter lack of moral fibre," reads one typical post.

Polite, guilty Canadians are falling over themselves apologizing for the family’s behaviour, while debate rages over everything from what should be done to recover the property to speculation as to where the family lives.

"It’s Alberta, right?" one visitor wrote. "This just seems like the kind of thing an Albertan would do."

Another person wrote, "I was going to suggest Toronto as the likeliest harbour of such villainy — but it could be argued Ottawa would be!"

Yesterday, Ms. Zissman, a 35-year-old marketing communications professional from San Francisco, said in a phone interview, "Not everyone is dying for their 15 minutes of fame. It’s ultimately a lost camera rather than a genocide in Darfur, so I haven’t necessarily been courting the media about it."

Ms. Zissman said she’s surprised and disappointed over the incident, but doesn’t hold any grudges against Canadians. However, she’s not pleased that the family, whom she’ll only identify as coming from Ontario, used their son’s illness as an excuse to keep the camera.

"I’ve known people with juvenile diabetes. It’s a horrible illness. I feel for the child, but I don’t think that has anything to do with a found camera."

Ms. Zissman lost the camera while in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. She likely set it down for a moment while her grandmother and parents were switching between one car to another. Once she realized she’d lost the camera, she filed a lost-and-found report with the park.

Park rangers informed her a Canadian family found the camera, but when Ms. Zissman got in touch with them, she realized they weren’t willing to return it. On her blog, Ms. Zissman recounts telling them, "This is an expensive camera, you know?"

Replied the family: "Oh, we know. We looked it up."

Ms. Zissman has recovered her photographs, but not because the memory cards were returned. The family burned the photos on to a CD and sent them to her.

"It’s wonderful to have pictures of my grandmother on the beach, but there is $120 worth of property they kept in addition to the camera," Ms. Zissman said.

Ms. Zissman said she hasn’t accepted any of the offers of replacement camera, only that she hopes to recover hers. She has left the matter with national park police, whom she said have contacted the family.

Cory Doctorow, a London, England-based editor at Boing Boing and a former Torontonian, said stories like Lost Camera spread across the Internet, fascinate everyone.

"It’s like a Greek play or an episode of Gilligan’s Island. Everything is the same with minor variations on the details. I think it struck a nerve with a lot of people."

Back at the blog, one reader summed up the debate: "That Canadian couple is a disgrace to all Canadians. I truly hope you get your camera back and bad karma hits them."
© National Post 2006

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