PigeonPropaganda

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FOR THE BIRDS, AND MOSTLY THE CHILDREN TOO

Data Collection and Crisis Mapping

The site collected user-generated cellphone reports of riots, stranded refugees, rapes and deaths and plotted them on a map, using the locations given by informants. It collected more testimony — which is what ushahidi means in Swahili — with greater rapidity than any reporter or election monitor.

The program was founded in Kenya in response to violence and used most recently in Haiti to find trapped victims. A texting number was advertised via radio.

Ushahidi also represents a new frontier of innovation. Silicon Valley has been the reigning paradigm of innovation, with its universities, financiers, mentors, immigrants and robust patents. Ushahidi comes from another world, in which entrepreneurship is born of hardship and innovators focus on doing more with less, rather than on selling you new and improved stuff.

in this instantaneous age, this kind of testimony confronts a more immediate kind: one of aggregate, average, good-enough truths.

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Filed under: Collective Bargaining, Design, Power

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