Mar 12

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

From ETech to Where 2.0: Disaster Tech and Activist Mapping

At ETech last week, Ethan Zuckerman spoke about the use of web technologies in repressive regimes. It was great -- one person even told that it was the best session he'd ever seen. I recommend reading Ethan's write-up of his talk.

He began with the hypothesis:

Sufficiently usable read/write platforms will attract porn and activists. If there's no porn, the tool doesn't work. If there are no activists, it doesn't work well.

The title of the talk was "The Cute Cat Theory of Activism". The more people use a service to post about cats the harder it is to shutdown entirely. So instead the authorities end up playing whack-a-mole. Ethan's slide shows how some of the more popular services can be used:


Ethan told us real stories of Google Maps being used to track secret prisons and jets and of Twitter being used to organize protests.

At Where 2.0, we will be joined by Erik Hersman (AKA Hash). Erik founded the activist mapping site Ushahidi (trying to keep Kenya's election safe). During his closing keynote, Enemies Around Every Corner: Mapping in an Activist World, he's going to talk about the use of maps to report incidents and keep elections free. He's going to explain the importance of clean data when people's live are at stake and he's going to share some success and failure stories with us.

At ETech, Jesse Robbins spoke about Disaster Tech. He spoke with Mikel Maron. I didn't attend, but I heard great things about it afterwards. As they've both done real world work in this area (Jesse deployed to Katrina and is a firefighter; Mikel has been doing work over-seas) their words carry weight.

Jesse & Mikel's model for framing the technology is very smart and easy to explain. My summary of it: ad-hoc use of tech will not work in all cases it needs a hero and it needs to be systematized -- the search for Jim Grey got a lot of traction, Fosset's search didn't, but now there are sites to coordinate this type of work. Their slides are posted.

I hope that by including these talk at Where 2.0 (with an increased emphasis on geo and mapping) developers become aware of the disaster and activist usage patterns. Hopefully, with awareness new tools can be developed faster and more efficiently.

tags: emerging tech, etech, geo, web 2.0  | comments: 1   | Sphere It

Previous  |  Next

0 TrackBacks

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments: 1

  Windowcat [03.18.08 11:19 AM]

And there we have content aggregators which allow you to manage all your online content like pictures from Flickr, videos from Youtube and even posts from Blogs or Twitter at one place.

Watch this video for instance:

Post A Comment:

 (please be patient, comments may take awhile to post)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.