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New Gaza War Reports Combine Tweets, Maps, SMSSubmitted by Safdar on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 12:15
Getting tweets from the war zone
is so 2008. The latest social media advance combines tools like
Twitter, text messaging, and online mapping to gather up first-hand
reports, straight from Gaza.
The effort, from Al Jazeera Labs,
just got started; the reporting is still spotty, and the technology is
very much in the testing phase. But the idea is for residents of
Israel, Gaza and the West Bank to send quick updates
about the conflict from their computers or mobile phones, through SMS
or Twitter. The results are then verified, and posted to a Microsoft
Virtual Earth map.
"Heavy fighting continues in eastern Gaza. Loud explosions, presumed to be artillery, and machine gun fire heard," one report says. "Palestinian medics confirm Israeli soldiers have shot and killed a
20-year-old man during clashes at a Gaza protest in Qalqilya, West Bank," reads another. "Nine Egyptian lorries carrying medicine and aid have entered Gaza," notes a third.
As Zero Intelligence Agents notes, Al Jazeera is using an open-source software tool called Ushahidi (Swahili for "testimony") for the online reporting experiment. The program was created in early 2008, to document the post-election violence in Kenya. Coders in Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Netherlands and the United States have contributed to its development.