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New Syria Website Creates a Web 2.0 Portrait of a Complex Conflict

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, January 14 2013

The new website Syria Deeply.

The Syrian uprising will reach the two-year mark in the coming months, with 60,000 dead since civil conflict began in the spring of 2011. It’s a deeply complex situation with no clear endgame, even as rebel forces gain ground against the Assad regime.

Syria Deeply is a new site that aims to broaden understanding of the Syrian conflict in the English-speaking world, through a multimedia portrait of its history and ongoing development. The project’s founder is Lara Setrakian, an Armenian-American journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent throughout the Middle East. While covering the uprising for American news outlets, Setrakian was struck by the lack of understanding of the complex Syrian situation in the United States. Syria Deeply is an effort to bridge that knowledge gap, with an interface that organizes a tangled conflict into a visually informative, real time news portal, as the site’s team writes:

Our goal is to build a better user experience of the story by adding context to content, using the latest digital tools of the day. Over time the hope is to add greater clarity, deeper understanding, and more sustained engagement to the global conversation.

The site incorporates conflict mapping on the Ushahidi platform with analysis by Syria-based correspondents, alongside hyper-local interviews with people on the ground, including a young defector from the Syrian army, apregnant mother in a refugee camp, and an erstwhile Assad supporter frustrated by both sides in the war.

There’s also a comprehensive interactive timeline covering 2011 to the present and extensive audio and video documentation. The Ushahidi-powered map, which appears on the site’s homepage, documents refugee movement and civilian and military fatalities, along with online videos mapped to the regions where they were taken.

Though it aggregates a complex web of data, stories, and statistics, the most fundamental figure that Syria Deeply draws attention is on the top left corner of the homepage: 671 days since the beginning of the conflict, as of this writing. That number alone provides a harrowing clarity on the situation in the country.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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