Friday, June 29, 2007

Wired Weighs in on the Hans Reiser Case

By Kara Platoni
Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 4:56 PM

Wired magazine has a fascinating story about Hans Reiser, the Oakland Linux programmer who has been accused of murdering his estranged wife, Nina Reiser, the mother of their two young children. The premise: it takes a geek to understand a geek, so Reiser's defense attorney allows his famously media-averse client (prior to his arrest, Reiser was filmed running from news camera crews) to sit down with a tech writer. Journalist Joshua Davis deftly turns out what may be the world's first true crime potboiler written entirely in nerdspeak. For example, he uses grimly punny bits of Reiser4, the incarcerated man's computer code, as breaks between sections of the story. Witness:

if (!JF_ISSET(node, JNODE_HEARD_BANSHEE)) + warning("nikita-3177", "Parent not found");

He also uses a clever split-screen layout whenever the narrative in the murder investigation comes across and unresolved bit of conflicting testimony, labeling one storyline "version 00" and the other "version 01."

From the daily news reports of this unusual murder investigation, you may well be familiar with some of its more salacious details -- the accusations of infidelity and business backstabbing, of S&M and violent video games and implanted memories, of kids who change stories on the witness stand and later disappear with their grandma to Russia. But this is the first time you really get to hear Reiser's side of the story, and part of what he wants to say is that he feels he's been discriminated against. "Male geeks, such as myself, are one of America's most hated cultural minorities," he claims.

"Reiser has so far relied on the Geek Defense," writes Davis. "It boils down to this: I may be awkward, a little weird, and prone to convoluted theories about nearly everything. But I am not a killer."

Do you believe him?

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