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[liberationtech] Drones are not storytellers or why Syrians need better storytelling was Re: Pirate Bay turns to drones

Brian Conley brianc at smallworldnews.tv
Fri Mar 23 10:11:31 PDT 2012


Sorry, perhaps the combination of two thoughts was confusing.

I definitely think its incredible what is being done with drones and the
innovative ideas being considered such as you mentioned previously, are
mostly limited by a willingness to think outside the current regulatory
framework.

at the same time, i am increasingly seeing the application of technology to
solve the wrong problems. IE drones *CAN* work for documentation, as can
satellite imagery, see HRW's recent publication of imagery of Homs, or of
course Satellite Sentinel.

However I feel that without combining this tactic with better amplification
of the unheard stories of "real people" we are either solving for the wrong
problem, or at best only part of the problem. I'm hoping to instigate a
debate around the differences between drones, often replicating the
traditional gaze/gazed dialectic, versus pushing for a radical shift in how
stories are told and news is created, ie involving those most affected as
both producers and characters. Currently the framework of many local
people, and foreign advocates/activists I have spoken with is that the most
important images are hard-hitting exposures of regime violence, and the
most important outlet is to get these on al jazeera and other international
broadcasters.

I'm trying to determine how we can shift this mentality to an understanding
that the primary barrier now to creating a real news/storytelling platform
for stories from conflict is our lack of imagination or failure to think
outside the traditional framework of visual media. I think a blogpost is
forthcoming, will definitely ping the list when I have it together.

Brian

On Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM, Andrew Lewis <andrew at pdqvpn.com> wrote:

> I never indicated it would, but it would defiantly be complementary, as
> well as useful for things outside Syria.
>
> It is not an either or situation as you are portraying it, and as videos
> from drones in Russia/Poland illustrate not only are video resolution
> getting better, but they can provide an overview that on the ground
> coverage.
>
> Andrew
>
> On Mar 23, 2012, at 4:49 PM, Brian Conley <brianc at smallworldnews.tv>
> wrote:
>
> Not only the development costs, but the litigation/jail time costs as well
> are a huge issue with more innovative applications of drone tech.
>
> Further, the idea of implementing drones in Syria first of all is a huge
> safety risk, and could fundamentally change the perception of an already
> hostile regime to encourage increasingly worse actions.
>
> Secondly, the drones for human rights stuff all forgets a fundamental
> issue, people care about stories, not grainy footage, unless the crimes are
> so enormous, and even then they don't encourage action nor do they help
> inform outsiders what exactly Syrians want or need.
>
> For example, there is a fundamental difference between videos like these
> that Iraqis we worked with in Baghdad were producing years ago:
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVib2fMtP1w
>
> http://www.aliveinbaghdad.org/2008/07/28/al-sahwa-mistakes-in-adhamiya/
>
>
> http://www.aliveinbaghdad.org/2007/10/08/us-military-destroys-iraqi-homes-by-mistake/
>
> ...and shaky content and long range images of what often may or may not be
> the "heinous crimes" individuals claim.
>
> see this video for example:
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kQMSkdo_jc&feature=player_embedded
>
> I think its pretty clear why more efforts are not being made to more
> effectively and repeatedly tell the stories of individual refugees and
> people who have lost homes and loved ones. The people documenting are most
> often men, and as a man who has had the same problem myself when
> documenting police violence, war, etc, we too often resort to documenting
> horrible events, both because we are shocked and because that involves an
> adrenaline rush and provides its own sort of benefit to us as individuals,
> and leaves beside the wayside any review of whether this content is really
> moving minds or pushing forward a liberation agenda.
>
> As a trainer who has worked with individuals all over the world in
> conflict areas and the developing world, I have found that women are the
> best trainees, followed closely by older men. Young people are often too
> caught up in the moment and the injustice of it all to more effectively
> document or listen to recommendations about composition, pacing, etc. I
> guess this is a bit off-topic, but after spending a long time in a fairly
> pointless discussion with a man from Hama about this subject last night, I
> felt the need to mention it here.
>
> I'm still trying to sort out exactly why I think the idea of drones as
> human rights documentation may make sense, but it certainly cannot replace
> storytelling or investigative reporting.
>
> On Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 9:32 AM, Andrew Lewis <andrew at pdqvpn.com> wrote:
>
>> Yes, telecomix is looking at drones, and really the proposal by TPB is
>> outlandish to current drone builders/operators, but most of the limitations
>> seem to be artificially limited technical issues that no one has thought
>> past due to limitations by US/UK/EU regulations. If you disregard these
>> rules, long range drones are well within the realm of possibility. I think
>> an open source drone program is possible, if people are willing to commit
>> the resources and accept the overall development costs.
>>
>> Andrew Lewis
>> Twitter: ThePunkbob
>>
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
>> On Mar 23, 2012, at 4:53 PM, KheOps <kheops at ceops.eu> wrote:
>>
>> > Indeed, we're working on drones to film and livestream stuff in hostile
>> > environment such as Syria :) Will keep you posted if something concrete
>> > is somehow produced :)
>> >
>> > On 03/23/2012 04:57 PM, David Johnson wrote:
>> >> It sounded ridiculous, but ideas can come from jokes.
>> >>
>> >> On Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 9:48 AM, KheOps <kheops at ceops.eu
>> >> <mailto:kheops at ceops.eu>> wrote:
>> >>
>> >>    This is a joke - at least according to tetsu0, one of the TPB folks
>> :)
>> >>
>> >>    On 03/23/2012 04:44 PM, David Johnson wrote:
>> >>> http://thepiratebay.se/blog/210
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>      /TPB LOSS/
>> >>>
>> >>> /We were down a few hours earlier today. There's no need to worry, we
>> >>> haven't been raided this time. We're only upgrading stuff since we're
>> >>> still growing./
>> >>>
>> >>> /One of the technical things we always optimize is where to put our
>> >>> front machines. They are the ones that re-direct your traffic to a
>> >>> secret location. We have now decided to try to build something
>> >>> extraordinary./
>> >>>
>> >>> /With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap
>> >>    radio
>> >>> equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi
>> >>> <http://www.raspberrypi.org/>, we're going to experiment with sending
>> >>> out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air.
>> >>> This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in
>> >>    order
>> >>> to shut down the system. A real act of war./
>> >>>
>> >>> /We're just starting so we haven't figured everything out yet. But we
>> >>> can't limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore.
>> >>    These Low
>> >>> Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern
>> >>> radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km
>> >>    away. For
>> >>> the proxy system we're building, that's more than enough./
>> >>>
>> >>> /But when time comes we will host in all parts of the galaxy,
>> >>    being true
>> >>> to our slogan of being the galaxy's most resilient system. And all of
>> >>> the parts we'll use to build //that system on will be downloadable./
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> --
>> >>>
>> >>> David V. Johnson
>> >>> Web Editor
>> >>> Boston Review
>> >>> Website: http://www.bostonreview.net
>> >>>
>> >>> Twitter: http://twitter.com/BostonReview
>> >>> Tumblr: http://bostonreview.tumblr.com
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> Mailing Address:
>> >>> San Francisco Writers' Grotto
>> >>>
>> >>> 490 2nd Street, 2nd Fl.
>> >>> San Francisco, CA 94107
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> Cell: (917)903-3706 <tel:%28917%29903-3706>
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>
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>> >>
>> >> --
>> >>
>> >> David V. Johnson
>> >>
>> >> Web Editor
>> >> Boston Review
>> >> Website: http://www.bostonreview.net
>> >> Twitter: http://twitter.com/BostonReview
>> >>
>> >> Tumblr: http://bostonreview.tumblr.com
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Mailing Address:
>> >> San Francisco Writers' Grotto
>> >>
>> >> 490 2nd Street, 2nd Fl.
>> >> San Francisco, CA 94107
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Cell: (917)903-3706
>> >>
>> >>
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > liberationtech mailing list
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>
>
>
> --
>
>
>
> Brian Conley
>
> Director, Small World News
>
> http://smallworldnews.tv
>
> m: 646.285.2046
>
> Skype: brianjoelconley
>
> public key:
> http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0xCEEF938A1DBDD587<http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0xE827FACCB139C9F0>
>
>


-- 



Brian Conley

Director, Small World News

http://smallworldnews.tv

m: 646.285.2046

Skype: brianjoelconley

public key:
http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0xCEEF938A1DBDD587<http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0xE827FACCB139C9F0>
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