Providing an inside look at the Gaza conflict…

After my television debut last week on Al Jazeera, Noam Cohen from the New York Times got in touch with me to discuss AlJazeera’s use of new media to cover the war in Gaza. The article also appeared in the International Herald Tribune …. My colleague Mohamed Nanabhay was also interviewed to discuss our soon to be launched Creative Commons license on some of our footage….

According to Mr. Nanabhay, and another new-media evangelist within Al Jazeera, Riyaad Minty, a 24-year-old South African who is a senior analyst at the network, the Gaza crisis is helping to convince their superiors of the power of the Internet to tell a sprawling story that unfolds over weeks or perhaps months.

Credit for the launch of all these services has to go to the entire team. Everyone has been working crazy hours to get our projects up and running for the current situation in Gaza.

Call it reporting 2.0, War 2.0 or whatever you like… Technology is just a tool, how we use these tools is what counts. Our focus has always been to give a voice to voiceless and interact directly with our viewers on a host of new platforms.

We hope that through our in-depth coverage (television, website and new media) we have been able to reach new audiences with our ground breaking reporting. It’s only by getting a full picture, from both sides, are we able to truly understand the nature of conflicts.

Oh and the photo they used for the article was taken by me (credit goes to Morad for setting the aperture on the camera). NYT did get their job titles wrong; Moeed is the current Head of New Media and Morad is a Senior Analyst;.

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Al Jazeera New Media….

Following on from my last post- I was asked to go on air again to talk about our new interactive map (second appearence on AlJazeera)… Incase you’ve missed it, our new services are proving to be a fantastic tool in covering the war on Gaza. If you don’t believe me check out what WIRED and NPR had to say….

Getting tweets from the war zone is so 2008. The latest social media advance combines tools like Twitter, text messaging, and online mapping to gather up first-hand reports, straight from Gaza.

Oh and the CEO of twitter, EV,  sent out a message referring to our Gaza Twitter Stream….

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Getting reviews online is always comforting- however the circumstances under which we rolled out these services aren’t. Lets hope and pray that the killing comes to an end and crisis reporting will no longer be needed…

Here is my interview on AJ:

Al Jazeera – Mapping out the Gaza conflict

After a few late nights at the office we have finally launched our interactive map for the situation in Gaza. The folks over at Ushahidi have been fantastic in allowing us to use their crowd sourcing platform for this project…. Our SMS system was set up and is powered by the guys at souktel (thanks to @Katrinskaya from MobileActive for putting us in touch with souktel)

The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Our goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.

War on Gaza

As updates come in on the situation in Gaza, we update the map with the incident. People can have a look at the timeline and map to get a idea of how the entire event has played out from the beginning. The great thing about this platform is the “crowd sourcing” part… People in Gaza and around the world can submit reports through to the site in 4 ways:

1) Report an incident directly at: http://labs.aljazeera.net/warongaza

2) via SMS (text message) – If you’re in Palestine and on the Jawwal network, you can text in your report to the number: 37191

or if you’re anywhere else in the world you can send a text to: +45609910303

All messages need to start with the word GAZA so that we can track it… (eg: GAZA 5 aid trucks just arrived at the Rafa crossing)

3) If you’re on twitter*, you can submit a report by simply replying to our official AlJazeera account with your report @AJGaza (eg: @AJGaza airstrike just resumed in Khan Yunus)…

*If you still dont know what twitter is head over to CommonCraft and watch the great video that explains it

4) If you have images or video, you can email them through to us at yourviews@aljazeera.net or upload them here.

I do wish the war ends soon so we dont have to actually test the platform out…. With the way its currently looking the end is not in sight, so lets just hope we can provide a great resource of information for the war.

Big ups to the other guys in our New Media team who worked through the nights to get this up…. Its amazing what one tweet can do (got in touch with @whiteafrican via twitter for this)

You can read more about the deployment on the Ushahidi Blog

New Media & The War on Gaza

I got called up to do an interview on Al Jazeera English today…. The topic was the role of New Media in the War on Gaza… 

We have been pretty darn busy in the New Media office getting stuff up and running for the situation in Gaza. You can follow our official Twitter stream (@AJGaza) to stay up to date with the latest info, if you would like to have your views heard on air, you can submit them through our new “Your Views” site for English and “Sharek” for Arabic…

We have a few other projects in the pipeline which we hope to rollout in the next few days…. Watch this space…

Global Lives… A video library of Human life Experience

The Global Lives Project is a collective effort of more than 150 volunteer film makers, artists, architects, programmers and everyday people from around the world to build and display a video library of human life experience.

The folks over at Global Lives are working on a very cool project… The idea is to give you an idea of what everyday life is like for various people around the world. The concept is to follow someone around with a camera for 24hours. They have quite diverse group of people from around the world that have been recorded so far (Brazil, USA, Japan & Malawi).

Our goal is to record 24 hours in the lives of ten people that roughly represent the diversity of our planets population. These ten lives will come together in an innovative video installation and form the basis of a collaborative online video encyclopedia of human life experiences.

If you’ve got pretty good language skills why dont pop over to the dotSub site and help translate some of the videos to your mother tongue….

BlackBerry Storm….

I’ve been talking about the BlackBerry Storm to my colleagues ever since I first heard about it. After using my iPhone for quite a while- the thought of having a touch UI with a “clickable” interface seemed to hold some promise…. Could this finally be a device that would provide the best of both worlds? Well… After reading this review on TIME – “BlackBerry Storm: The Novelty Wears Off Fast”, I guess not. I’m still keen to get my hands on one to play around with, however I dont think i’ll be purchasing a new device this month *sigh*

“The trouble with having to push down on the entire 3.2-inch screen every time you type a letter or confirm a menu choice is that it slows you down. The idea behind the clickable screen is that it will minimize errors by getting you to think before you press. Instead, it took much of the fun out of using the device.”

I guess the name says it all…. its fantastic to watch a storm….sooner or later you’ll be wanting the sun to come out so that you can get on with your life.