I once interviewed a homeland security consulant who claimed that ordinary citizens armed with wi-fi laptops, smart cellphones, and the like would be far more effective at responding to terrorist attacks than any governmental organization. Tonight I have seen the proof of that argument.
The top story on Boston.com and other local news sites and TV stations as I write this is a bomb scare that happened in Boston this morning. It seems that suspicious devices were spotted on bridges, overpasses, in subway stations and other public places. The devices -- described ominously as being "composed of electronic circuit boards with LED lights attached" -- were shaped like little glowing figures who seemed angry. The bomb squad was called in, and they detonated at least one of the devices and removed the others. Traffic was snarled for hours. What were the devices?
The answer to that burning question was available earlier today on blogs and social networking sites like Flickr, thanks to the sharp eyes of pop-culture-savvy young Bostonians. Todd Vanderlin, for example, spotted the devices and recognized right away what they were: a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Adult Swim TV show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." To be specific, the devices are a sophisticated advertisement -- Vanderlin even figured out who orchestrated the campaign -- depicting Mooninites.
UPDATE: Thanks, Boing Boing, for posting about this entry and updating us on the story.
READ MORE FROM BRAINIAC: Attack of the Mooninites! | Eat your heart out P.T. Barnum | Son of Mooninite! | Panic in the Hub | Marketing Gone Awry | Mooninite Photo Op | Do the Mooninites have a posse? | Malden vs. Mooninites | Mooninite missives 1 | Mooninite missives 2 | Zebro video | Red Sox vs. Mooninites | Danger Bomb Clock | Mooninite kudos | Mooninite Man sighted | Mooninite guru? |
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.