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As Prop, Cudgel or Sensor, Digital Maps Have a Future in Global Activism

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, January 16 2013

Screenshot from

Over the past five years, mapping has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, whether it is used for commercial purposes or crisis management. While some development workers and community organizers feel it is overhyped as a tool for certain types of crisis management, crisis workers and aid agencies find it indispensable. Read More


With Text Messages, Saving Lives Through Timely Words

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 2 2012

Sometimes all it takes to save lives is the right words at the right time. That's what researchers are finding as they explore two projects to use text messages in an effort to influence people's behavior. Early intervention specialist Patrick Meier describes how this knowledge was used in conflict resolution — specifically in a project called CeaseFire Chicago, which reduced dramatically the number of shootings in the city's marginalized neighborhoods. Now a Kenyan NGO is employing the same methodology to reduce conflict in the slums of Nairobi. And this is all based on earlier work that a World Health Organization found used text messaging to improve treatment results for patients with HIV in Kenya. Read More


Ushahidi and the Long Tail of Mapping for Social Change

BY David Eaves | Monday, July 9 2012

What makes a mapping project successful? Image: Trafficking map Epawa SMS

A new website called DeadUshahidi launched recently with the express purpose of tracking Ushahidi mapping projects that experienced little use. While the Ushahidi team responded in good form, but it was hard not to see the website as a shot across its bow.

David Eaves explores why there are so many Ushahidi-powered mapping projects that appear to have fallen by the wayside — and why that might actually be a good thing for people who want to use geospatial data for social change.

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Upgrading Civil Resistance? Gene Sharp's "Methods," Rewritten for 2012

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 8 2012

Ushahidi's director of crisis mapping, Patrick Meier, and Meta-Activism Project founder Mary Joyce are collaborating on a project to update and add to Gene Sharp's 198 "Methods of Nonviolent Action," a manual for civil resistance, with ways these techniques could be adjusted for the 21st century. Together with other contributors, they're managing a spreadsheet in Google Docs with each of 198 methods from the pioneering researcher in protest and activism. For each — and a few new ones added on — they're listing ways the traditional method could be tweaked to take advantage of new technology, and ways that those methods could be completely reinvented. Read More

How to Tell if Someone On Twitter Is Really a Dog

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, November 30 2011

Patrick Meier of Ushahidi — now Patrick Meier, Ph.D, of course — has released a 20-plus-page study on strategies for verifying information online. From the abstract: Crowdsourced information can provide rapid ... Read More

In Identifying Atrocity, Many Hands May Make Fast Work: Crowdsourcing Satellite Imagery

BY Nick Judd | Monday, September 12 2011

Volunteers picked out likely human shelters in some 3,700 individual images of this area of Somalia to test the idea of distributing the work of imagery analysis; this is a map of the shelters they identified. Image: ... Read More

In Another Country, That Map May Not Mean What You Think It Means

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, June 30 2011

Mobile messaging and better maps are an integral part of many efforts to use technology to change how we understand the world, from Ushahidi and OpenStreetMap to, well, this — and it follows that in order for these ... Read More

Digital Mappers Plot the Future of Maptivism

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, June 3 2011

Japan earthquake map built through Development Seed's MapBox; see it live. Every time something happens in the world these days, somebody makes a map about it. Read More

Ushahidi Japan vs. Ushahidi Libya

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, March 29 2011

Mix a terrible natural disaster with a highly networked and tech savvy Japanese population, and you get a potentially "quite powerful" use of the crowd-mapping platform Ushahidi, says Patrick Meier, Ushahidi's ... Read More

Egypt's Election Turns Into a Battle of Multiple Ushahidis

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, November 23 2010

The Muslim Brotherhood has launched an instance of Ushahidi, one of several launched to monitor Egypt's upcoming parliamentary election. Read More