OpenWatch is a project that publishes open/free apps for Android and iOS; the apps (called "OpenWatch Recorder" and "CopRecorder") covertly record audio and, at your direction, transmits it to the OpenWatch site. There, it is reviewed for significance, stripped of personal information, and published. It also has a video mode. The OpenWatch site looks for regional patterns in authority-figure interactions -- for example, whether a county operates its drunk-driving checkpoints in an illegal fashion.
To me, something like OpenWatch could help solve a major problem for investigative reporting in an age when newsrooms are shrinking. We've still got plenty of people who can bulldog an issue once it's been flagged, but there are fewer and fewer reporters with deep sourcing in a community, fewer and fewer reporters who have the time to look into a bunch of different things knowing that only one out of a hundred might turn into a big investigation. Perhaps providing better conduits for citizens to flag their own problems can drive down the cost of hard-hitting journalism and be part of the solution for keeping governments honest.
At first, the app did not have grand aspirations. Jones built it for some friends who'd gotten into some trouble with the law and who could have been aided by a recording of their interaction with law enforcement. But Jones' worldview began to seep into the project. Informed by Julian Assange's conception of "scientific journalism," Jones wanted to start collecting datapoints at the interface of citizens and authority figures.
"It's a new kind of journalism. When people think citizen media, right now they think amateur journalism ... I don't think that's revolutionary," Jones told me. "I don't think that's what the '90s cyberutopianists were dreaming of. I think the real value of citizen media will be collecting data."
Policing the Police: The Apps That Let You Spy on the Cops (The Atlantic)
Business Ryokan Asahi is a hotel in Fukuoka, Japan. They will let you stay in a room for 130 yen ($1.20) if you agree to be livestreamed on its YouTube channel. From Oddity Central: It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. While the camera covers the entire tiny room, leaving occupants no place to […]
This guy has a lot of security cameras, and he put them to good use to make a mini-documentary about tracking down a porch pirate. First, we see a black-and-white security camera view of a young woman walking up his driveway. The scene switches to a doorbell camera, where we see her walk to the […]
Chinese state corruption is so weird and manifest that it has its own literary movement, and the use of the internet to uncover corruption has become a political football that has spilled over into the Chinese press, and into street-brawls.
Even after months of working from home, you’d be forgiven for thinking the whole experience still doesn’t quite feel…well, normal. In addition to all the obvious environmental changes of handling your 9 to 5 from your den or dining room table, the technological aids you didn’t realize you loved back at the office probably don’t […]
Running a small business drops a lot on to the plate of just one person. And between juggling a dozen tasks that need to get handled daily, it’s no surprise that there are a dozen more equally vital tasks that can just as easily go overlooked. While posting to social channels and making web posts […]
The importance of reading is well documented. About half of America’s unemployed between 16 and 21 years old are functionally illiterate. And there’s an almost direct line between how much you read and your earning potential, with the richest Americans three times more likely to read than those with a household income below $30,000. However, […]