Sunday, May 8, 2011

At 9/11 Memorial, Name Placements Reflect Bonds Between Victims, Thanks To Algorithm

Via -

On that terrible morning, when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Victor Wald, 50, was working in his 84th floor office at the small brokerage firm, Avalon Partners. Like his colleagues, he raced for the exits, and scrambled down the stairs. But, having suffered from rheumatic fever as a child, he collapsed in exhaustion on the 53rd floor, as frantic workers from the building's upper floors hastily passed him by. Harry Ramos, 46, the head trader at the small investment bank, May Davis Group, who worked on the 87th floor, saw him on the stairs, and stopped.

They had never met, had no friends or relatives in common. But Ramos saw Wald and said, "I won't leave you." Ramos managed to coax Wald down to the 36th floor, where they sat together as the building collapsed.

When the National September 11 Memorial opens this fall, on the tenth anniversary of that world-changing day, the two friends’ names will be inscribed next to each other on the granite wall surrounding the Memorial Garden’s fountains.

Their adjacency is product of a masterful bit of programming undertaken by the New York media design firm Local Projects, which took 1,800 requests from families of the 3,500 9/11 victims, and created an algorithm that let them be grouped by affinity: firefighters with firefighters, cops with cops, all the members of each of the flights, first responders, or just pals.

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