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— urbantick

Tag "diary"

News media coverage on the Afganistan War, started in 2001 and the Iraq War started back in 2003 by the then President of america, George W. Bush has slowly but surely been pushed of the headlines. It was big back then and still is every now and then, but the general public has gotten used to it and doesn’t know where to go with additional information about similar events. In Afganistan the war is into its tenth year and in Iraq into the eighth.

Nevertheless people are still dying in this war, on all kinds of different sides. Long gone are the days where there was only two sides. Who is with who and who was with whom last time, or tomorrow? Nobody knows and probably nobody will ever know. The only hope is that progress can be made, even if slowly, steadily towards a stable but independent and local rooted sense of direction.

Wikileaks has in July and October last year released a massive amount of documents related to the war. These basically are reports on events and incidents, a War Diary essentially. Tse dat was picket up by the Guardian visualised via Google Fusion Tables. The Wiki Dum consist of some 391,000 records. The Guardian Data Journalists have been pondering over it for weeks and theyr summary is available on the Guardian Data Blog.

Iraq Death Map

Link taken from the Guardian Data Blog / The data on all reported deaths in Iraq is available on the Google Fusion Tables. Full details available directly from the Wikileaks page. For a full view of Iraq zoom out, it really covers the entire country!

It is important to look very closely at this data. The visualisation is extremely missleading and is is vastly unclear what it show. For example as jpsnodgrass in a comment on the Guardian Data Blog points out, there are a great number of unrelated incidents mapped in the same fashion implying they are contributing to the full picture. He notes “the same visual points represent vastly different categories of incidents involving injuries or deaths. For example, look north of Fallujah city where two red dots lie very close to each other. This is the information about one of the events:

Type: Friendly Action
Category: Attack
Region: MNF-W
Attack on: FRIEND
Enemies killed: 14

This means that Regimental Combat Team One (part of the 1st Marines) conducts Opposing Force (generic “The Enemy” for training purposes) rehearsal and feint. i.e. They were practicing the maneuver into Fallujah and pulled out.
The 14 “enemies” seem to be fictional entities hypothetically killed in a theatric rehearsal.

The dot next to this:
Type: Non-Combat Event
Category: Accident
Region: MNF-W
Attack on: NEUTRAL

Read: Tank accidentally rolls over (and kills) Coalition member in the vicinity of Fallujah.

Click on the other points on the map, especially the ones outside of the major cities. You will find that many of them are “criminal events” (i.e. civilian murder, or murderer unknown, or a body was found, cause of death unknown).”

Taking out the ‘Accidents’, the category ‘Others’ and turning the map from a dot map into a heat map changed the picture

Link taken from the Guardian Data Blog / Map is based on the Wikileaks information on the Iraq War dumped in October 2010. It is available on Google Fushion Tables. You can log in via your Google Account and play around with the data yourself.

The Wikileaks do not mix things up or are misleading in themselves, but it is just a very large pile of raw data. This includes everything, including information that doesn’t belong or is wrong, a dump really. Authoring a visualisation will still require a lot of attention and knowledge on the subject. Even though Google supplies this amazing Fusiontables tool, visualisation has not become easier. It has become more accessible.

By far these documents are the largest and most detailed public available documentation of any war do far. But is it really making a difference? Does this map convince you of the necessity of this operation? Are you now, after clicking a few of these incident reports believe in the strength of military forces and their ability to foster society culture and maybe democracy?

Guess the same critique applies to the Afganistan War Diary data released by Wikileaks around the same time. Here is also a Google Table available together with a crude mapping. The same category mixing is going on. It hoever includes many more, since it does not only focus on deaths.

Available on Google Fusion Tables or directly on Wikileaks, or also via the Guardian.

Afganistan War Diary Map
Data available on Google Fusion Tables via the Guardian Data Blog.

Link taken from the Guardian Data Blog / Map is based on the Wikileaks information on the Afganistan War dumped in July 2010. It is available on Google Fushion Tables.

War Reporting is not done from the desktop, not with Google and not with Wikileaks. As it is with ‘clean warfare’ and ‘smart bombs‘, putting the distance between operation and action, or directing devastation from the comfort of a remoteness location is not changing the reality on the ground. War kills and imprecise reporting does not help save lives either.

war reporter action figure
Image taken from dcrtv / THe war reporter as action figure.

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It has taken a while but now the first track records coming out of the UrbanDiary project are ported and can be visualised with processing. This is really an awesome tool to work with, however there is still a lot of hiccups and stuff to learn for me. So with a lot of trial and error I managed to get this one going. It is based on some stuff Steven M. Ottens has put together for his visualisations of GPS tracks HERE.
For this lot of data, it replay the recordings of seven participants of the UrbanDiary project. THese were recorded between April and August 2009. The setting is Greater London and you can most probably start guessing a few location that get highlighted as the drawing progresses. Some of the denser locations are;
However there are still some problems with the time component of the data as well as the transparency.
From a processing point of view it makes use of the tomc GPX library.

Music Ooze by Klez on mp3unsigned.com

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TimeLapse has extensively featured here before and I am always interested to hear about new projects in stop motion. One of the aspects of time laps is the ‘compression’ of time as opposed to the ‘real time’ video recording at 25/30 frames a second. TimeLapse can be any frame rate per second, minute or year. In post processing the images are then output as a clip at the video frame rate. This then is a video with dropped frames, skipping sections, but thus compressing an event in to a much smaller timeframe.
There are brilliant examples of yearlong projects, capturing the change of the seasons.
For a lifelong project a couple of difficulties have to be overcome. One is the readiness of the photographer. For not to miss the opportunity to get the good shot, one has to be constantly on the trigger. This is not possible over a longer period while ‘living’ the lead role in the soap opera project. An other implication is the storage capacity, even though it is a compressed version of filming it generates quickly a lot of data.
A new product is about to enter the market to take on exactly the customers that are interested in that kind of stuff, somehow that would consequently include me too. However, the product was initially developed by Microsoft in one of the research centers, actually in the Cambridge research centre. In short it is a camera that can be worn as a bracelet and it takes, as the name suggests, triggered by a bunch of sensors images. These sensors are light-intensity and light-color sensors, a passive infrared (body heat) detector, a temperature sensor, and a multiple-axis accelerometer. The camera processor controls the sensors and will if there is a change in sensed environment take a picture. Every thing is automatic, hands free photography so to say. Cleverly the developers got rid of the viewfinder, to save on unnecessary elements and probably to stop customers using the device as a normal camera. Whether the device has an actually release button to manually shoot an important scene is not reported.

Images by Microsoft – Example shots taken with a SenseCam

Reading the specs does not necessarily make you jump for joy, the cam spots a VGA 640×480 pixels resolution receiver. I am not a big fan of massive resolution, but having at least the option for a timeLapse on vimeo in HD should probably be standard. That’s only some 1080×720 pix what a first generation iPhone will do! But it goes on, the camera is capable of taking a picture every 30 secs only and there is currently only a 1GB flash memory available. Microsoft suggests this will give you room for 30’000 pictures.
As a life log this is, as gizmodo points out, only a record of 10 days at a 30 sec rate, not exactly a lifetime. Again there is currently no data regarding the power supply available but this is likely to have additional implications. It is unlikely that the cam will manage 10-day session.
Microsoft has now licensed the product to Vicon, based in Oxford, UK, a specialist for motion capturing. The reason named for this move is demand. So far some 500 devises have been produces. The new producer is prepared to launch the product in the next few months according to the New Scientist. But at a price of £500.00, not cheap eh, you might think now, me too.

However the blogging community has taken this announcement to test a few funny slogans. They came up with a couple of funny titles for the device: SenseCam – the Black Box Flight Recorder for human beings, by gizmag.com, ‘Black box’ cam for total recall, by the BBC.

Images by Microsoft/Vicon – the SenseCam

And here an example of the cam in use.

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