In the summer of 1999, a manipulated white supremacist wacko by the name of Benjamin Smith went on a killing spree in Illinois and Indiana– shooting 10 African Americans, Jews, and Asian Americans– before he killed himself. During those few hot July days, there was a killer on the loose not far from where I lived in Chicago.
As an internet consultant, I had been thinking up what was the most compelling use of the relatively new wireless notification utilities that had been popping up.
What info would you want to be notified of right away– not when you got back to the computer by email, but immediately, wherever you are? Well, the existence of a person nearby who has killed one or more people and who may kill others– that seemed to me a pretty important piece of info I’d like to hear about as soon as possible.
Killer on the Loose was born. Here is my archived explanation of the concept:
In most earnest, non-evil human endeavors, there is a cynical and an optimistic side to why humans do what we do. We try to do a good job at work because we believe in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. And we do a good job at work because we want to make more money than the next guy, beat them to the next promotion, be better than them. Cynicism and optimism is present in nearly everything human.
This site may seem at first glance to be all about using technology to reduce our chances of being the victim of a KOTL. It is about that. It provides a relatively useful utility that helps people do that. This is the straight, or optimistic, side of KOTL.
But it is also about the chafing we feel when our ability to protect ourselves ends. Because people can buy all the technology they want, and sign up for wireless KOTL notifications, and buy GPS devices for all their loved ones, but there is a stopping point for all of this stuff. Eventually we get to the water’s edge, no matter how far we push it, no matter how many barricades we build, no matter how tall. In the end, no one is 100% safe and never will be. This is the cynical side of the site, and that is the underlying terror of it—it provides a utility for safety while throbbing in the knowledge of its absolute futility.
We hope you are able to find a place here for all feelings and goals— whether they are cynical or optimistic—here on KOTL.
I let www.killerontheloose.com lapse sometime after the 9/11 attacks. It really wasn’t funny anymore. God bless us all.