IN THE LOOP | November 2012
TACTICAL TECH'S IN THE LOOP
In the Loop is our monthly experimental – not really a – newsletter which features highlights from our Twitter feeds and updates on what we've been up to at Tactical Tech.
NOVEMBER: EVIDENCE AND INFLUENCE CAMP PREVIEW SPECIAL!
The theme of our upcoming Info-Activism Camp is “Evidence & Influence”. In the run-up to the camp in the Spring of 2013, this edition of In the Loop focuses on the increasing amount of data available to activists and journalists. It looks at how they're using this data to gain political and social influence, as well as at some of the ramifications and challenges involved.
TACTICAL TECH'S INFO-ACTIVISM CAMP 2013
You know about Wikileaks, but do you know how journalists from the UK's Guardian newspaper turned thousands of leaked cables into information graphics? Or how Greenpeace used publicly-available data to expose funding connections between climate change skeptics and the oil industry in the US? And how Ka7eboon, a group of young activists in Cairo staged street screenings with crowd-sourced video documentation of police brutality: educating the public and challenging the state media monopoly at the same time?
Activists can now collect and use evidence in more ways than ever, presenting exciting opportunities for campaigning and political impact. But these new techniques and approaches throw up new challenges. How do you process and analyse thousands of documents in different formats? What are the ethical implications of releasing and using data that you can't verify? How can you identify storylines in data and then find creative and engaging ways of presenting them? What about the double bind of working with evidence which can be used to expose abuse and misconduct, but which can also be used to entrap you and others?
To explore these questions and more, Tactical Tech – together with its partners - will be hosting the 'Info-Activism Camp 2013: Evidence and Influence'. For more information, go to: camp2013.tacticaltech.org
THE BACK ROOM AT TACTICAL TECH
WORKING THROUGH DATA WITH DRAWING BY NUMBERS
Taking the first steps in visualising data can be overwhelming. To help you out we are creating step-by-step examples of how to use some of the tools reviewed on DrawingByNumbers.org.
OpenHeatMap is the first up. We have put together an presentation of the steps we took to plot data collected through the Sex Workers Voices Project on a map of West Bengal. The OpenHeatMap workthrough shows how we first sorted the data in order to visualise a specific type of violence – verbal abuse – committed by a specific perpetrator – local hooligans – against women sex workers. We then tracked down location data for all 48 survey sites (a tricky task!) and arranged it according to OpenHeatMap's requirements. This data was finally inputted into the web application and a heat map created. You can download the data and follow along yourself. Please drop us a line and tell us what you think on drawingbynumbers [at] tacticaltech.org.
Read more about the Sex Workers Voices project, here.
The Land Matrix is the largest interactive online dataset on land deals worldwide. Watch this short animation from our very own Tactical Studios to find out more!
MORE ON THE DELHI DIGESTS
Many of you have already looked through the Delhi Digests, our website mapping the life-cycle of electronic waste in the city of Delhi through photos, video, interviews and statistics. The project was recently featured in India's Sunday Guardian.
10 TACTICS UNSTITCHED: NEW CASE STUDIES
Online comedy skits expose corruption in Kuwait; an interactive “protest performance” questions ownership of the seafront in Beirut; and Syrian artists honour protesters through customised postage stamps.
GREENPEACE ON MOBILISATION: WHAT WORKS, WHAT DOESN'T
Greenpeace protest (image: Greenpeace)
How do you mobilise people around your issue? Don't just tell them what to do! Greenpeace and its allies have some ideas on what works, and why (key trends include people-sourced campaigns, strong grassroots networks and collective intelligence).
HACKERS AGAINST CORRUPTION
From reporting bribes to monitoring the impact of natural disasters, technologies are increasingly being used to illuminate, to expose, and to hold political institutions accountable for their actions. Transparency International and Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) are bringing hackers together in a series of hackathons, in an attempt to find creative solutions for the fight against corruption.
About the places hit by drone strikes, James Bridle writes in the New Statesman: ”They are the names of places most of us will never see. We do not know these landscapes and we cannot visit them. What can reach them are drones, what can see them — if not entirely know them — are drones.” Bridle's "Dronestagram" blog exposes where the drone war is happening, and what the damage looks like.
THE HACKERS OF DAMASCUS
The same tools that advocates use to investigate and expose abuse can be used by their opponents to spy on and punish them. Business Week looks at the Syrian Electronic Army's sophisticated methods of spying, tracking, tracing and spreading disinformation.
DETECTIVE WORK MADE EASIER: THE INVESTIGATIVE DASHBOARD
(Image: Investigative Dashboard)
The Investigative Dashboard contains tools and support for investigating corporations around the world. It includes a catalogue of the world's databases containing company data, as well as a selection of ready-to-use company datasets, and tools to extract and analyse data.
OPEN SOURCE INTELLIGENCE: MALTEGO
Maltego is an open source intelligence and forensics application which can be used to determine the relationships and real-world links between social networks, companies, organisations, websites, internet infrastructures etc: [For examples of how it's been used, go here].
DIY SOURCING: "UNSOURCED"
So many newspaper articles are published with missing or too-vague references to their original sources. "Unsourced" is a tool to help us fill in the gaps in the news articles we read; to provide the background information that newspapers should be including - but aren't.
TRUE OR FALSE? AFRICA CHECK
Has a politician, a business or union leader, a health association or environmental group said something that you suspect is untrue or misleading? Africa Check is a new non-profit, crowd-sourced, fact-checking organisation which checks, refutes and confirms claims made in the public sphere in Africa.
EMERGENCY JOURNALISM TOOLKIT
Disaster-related mobile apps from Japan (Image: European Journalism Centre)
False images of Hurricane Sandy, internet rumours linking politicians to child abuse... in the heat of the moment, truth and lies clamour for equal attention in the digital sphere. If your job is to inform your readers, how do you know what's fact and what's fiction? The Emergency Journalism Toolkit, an initiative from the European Journalism Centre, offers news and resources for reporting in volatile situations
Encryption is essential for anyone collecting and handling evidence, but encryption tools tend to stay in the hands of techies and geeks. Enter Cryptoparty. Cryptoparty describes itself as a "decentralized, global initiative to introduce basic cryptography tools - such as the Tor anonymity network, public key encryption (PGP/GPG), and OTR (Off The Record messaging) - to the general public". To make encryption more accesible, "CryptoParties" have been happening around the world. And now there is a handbook.
Turning data-driven transparency websites into actual accountability is no easy task. Read about the challenges faced by Open Contract's monitoring project in Slovakia.
ANTI-CORRUPTION CONFERENCE: NEW TOOLS AND TACTICS
Some of the best campaigns are inspired by what has worked in other sectors, or with other issues. The Engine Room takes inspiration from what emerged from the International Anti-Corruption Conference, and aggregates new tools and tactics in anti-corruption advocacy.
THE STORY OF WATER One of the biggest challenges faced when visualising data for a campaign is trying to find and tell a story which will influence the viewer. Angela Morelli's "Virtual Water" weaves a simple but captivating story about how much water we consume in our daily lives, without even lifting a glass.
IFEX's GAME-BASED CAMPAIGN
Ever thought about engaging your audience through games? The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has developed a game for the "Day to End Impunity" campaign. The player is placed in different scenarios, from being a musician in Africa to a Twitter user in the Americas. In each scenario, players must navigate their way through a labyrinth where others are doing everything they can to silence their voices.