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The Fingerprints of a Drone Strike

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, March 19 2014

A woman works with a forensic architect in recreating the scene of a drone strike in Waziristan (Forensic Architecture)

A woman dressed in a black hijab is highlighted by the glare from a computer screen as she works with forensic architects in digitally recreating her home, the scene of a drone strike in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan where five men, one of them her brother-in-law, were directly hit and killed on Oct. 4, 2010. This is the spot where she had laid out a rug in the courtyard, she explains, and where her guests sat one evening when the missile dove into their circle, leaving a blackened dent in the ground and scattering flesh that later, she and her husband had to pick up from off of the ground so they could bury their dead. Morbidly, the reconstruction of a drone strike is similar – the gathering of flecks of information when nothing else is available: through satellite imagery and video, the length of a building’s shadow, the pattern of shrapnel marks on a wall, and the angle of a photo, can help forensic architects determine where a missile struck and determine how it led to civilian deaths. Read More

What Advocacy Campaigns Can Learn From the 2012 Presidential Race

BY Shayna Englin | Friday, November 16 2012

Shayna Englin is chief advocacy officer for Fission Strategy. She spoke last June at Personal Democracy Forum on "The Advocacy Gap." In this "Backchannel" piece, she highlights three key take-aways for advocacy organizations from the 2012 presidential campaigns.

BackChannel an ongoing series of guest posts from practitioners and close observers at the intersection of technology and politics that, taken in aggregate, form a running conversation about the future of campaigns and government.

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Beyond "Bitter Twitter": Crowd-Photography for the Cyber-Tahrir Square

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 10 2012

If you're following the presidential campaign via Twitter, you know that each side is using the medium to strafe the other. But with the help of powerful network mapping tools, we discovered there's actually a lot more happening in the Twittersphere around those daily diversions. Thanks to connection technologies, people, events and ideas are coalescing in fascinating patterns online. There's a big "Tahrir Square" level of political demonstration underway, and with this post, we start mining the data to spot the communities among the crowds. Read More

The Data-Driven Occupiers

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 19 2011

Writing for Fast Company, Sean Captain writes that Occupy Wall Street is just as data-driven an operation as any other native to the 21st century: Coverage of the technology at Occupy Wall Street focuses on the neat-o, ... Read More

Report: Twitter Helped Put Out Fires in London, Not Start Them

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 25 2011

An analysis of Twitter usage during Britain's London riots indicates that Twitter was used more to react to riots and looting than to cause it, The Guardian reports: The unique database contains tweets about the riots ... Read More

The Greater Manchester Police's New Hashtag Should Be #Jailed

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 11 2011

The Greater Manchester Police have taken up the practice of tweeting the names and dates of birth of people convicted of crimes stemming from the recent riots there. "We promised we'd name all those convicted for their ... Read More

Data Geeks for Obama?

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, July 14 2011

Spotted: Obama for America's analytics department is staffing up on predictive modeling and data mining scientists and analysts: We are a multi-disciplinary team of statisticians, predictive modelers, data mining ... Read More