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Meet Dronestagram - the social media project revealing America's hidden drone war

Software & AppsNews
, 13 Nov 2012News
Meet Dronestagram - the social media project revealing America's hidden drone war

A new website based on the popular photo-sharing service Instagram is shining a light on one of the murkier aspects of America's contentious 'war on terror.'

Founded in October 2012, Dronestagram is the latest project of London-based blogger, writer, and technologist James Bridle.

Centred around a Tumblr micro-blog and founded in late-October 2012, Dronestagram shows photos of alleged drone strike locations drawn from Google Maps Satellite View, along with a short description of the purported attack.

Locational information is derived from reports by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, with Dronestagram posts beginning life as an Instagram share before being distributed across Tumblr and Twitter.

A sample post from 7 November (see image, below) summarising a claimed unmanned assault near the Yemeni capital of Sana'a reads: "A strike at night in a village 40km from Sana'a. Alleged al Qaeda leader Adnam al Qathi and his bodyguards Rablee Lahib and Radwan al Hashidi were killed. A child and two others are also reported injured. Drones had been seen over the area for three days."

Mr Bridle explains the purpose of and thinking behind Dronestagram on his blog, booktwo.org,

"The political and practical possibilities of drone strikes are the consequence of invisible, distancing technologies, and a technologically-disengaged media and society. Foreign wars and foreign bodies have always counted for less, but the technology that was supposed to bring us closer together is used to obscure and obfuscate," he writes.

He continues: "History, like space, is coproduced by us and our technologies: those technologies include satellite mapping, social photo sharing from handheld devices, and fleets of flying death robots. We should engage with them at every level."

Bridle is perhaps best known for his New Aesthetic project, which he describes as "a series of artefacts of the heterogeneous network" that "points towards new ways of seeing the world [and] the society, technology, politics and people that co-produce them."

Military drones, formally known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are one of the new weapons of America's 'war on terror,' and enjoy broad support across the US political spectrum but are decidedly more controversial in civilian circles.

One of the principle gripes of technologically-minded types is the danger of unmanned aircrafts falling victim to hackers.

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