War 2.0

Good morning! I realize that we didn’t spend a ton of time last night talking about Chinese censorship, so here’s a good James Fallows article on China’s Great Firewall, as well as an interview on the same subject.

Our subject this week is going to be the war in Iraq and the unique stories that have come out of it—the first war fought since Web 2.0. Remember how I said last night these tools are open to everyone? Here’s a story from today’s Washington Post about the Taliban’s website—that was hosted on a server in Houston!

The depth and breadth of this war’s coverage is unlike anything we’ve ever seen—particularly because of who is covering it. Feeling the traditional media wasn’t covering Iraq went and using VOIP technology, Swarthmore college students started putting together a regular news show interviewing Iraqis. Here’s an NPR story on it and then go listen to some of the podcasts.

The newest aspects of Web 2.0 in the war is how it allows us on the home front to hear from soldiers and civilians in the war zone in real time. Salem Pax was one of the first Iraqi bloggers in Baghdad, and the Baghdad Burning blog actually ended up being turned into a book. Its author, Riverbend, is still unknown.

Here’s a roundup of the best military blogs (or milblogs) right now and a site that rounds up milblogging. Army of Dude is one of the biggest. The military isn’t sure exactly how to deal with the bloggers (but then again, it seems to be like John Kerry: Both for and against the same things). Colby Buzzell‘s blog ended up launching a successful book (it won the Lulu Blooker Prize, for best blog to become a book) and he’s continuing to write for GQ. I recommend picking up the book if you want a good soldier’s memoir.

One of the biggest controversies to break out online is over Kevin Sites, who was an independent journalist in Iraq and videotaped what appeared to be a soldier shooting an unarmed wounded Iraqi. He now has a book/documentary out about his career. You can also see his Flickr feed. Here’s an interview that discusses his offbeat path.

Of course Sites isn’t the only one in Iraq with a video camera—the troops have them too and seem to spend a lot of time mixing patriotic videos (WARNING: some of this is graphic war footage). Dig around on YouTube and see what good videos you find. Controversial videos have also surfaced of private contractors shooting at civilian cars. This week, Del.icio.us at least one YouTube video of the war.

The web is also being used to rally veterans to oppose the war. But is that a good thing? And remember games and the internet are how the military is signing up its new recruits.

This week, dig around, read a few blogs, and write about what surprises you. Is seeing and reading about war a good thing or a bad thing? Should we have this much access to the front lines?

UPDATE: This is your second-to-last response blog (which means it’s #11). Cecilia points out that while I’ve said you should have 13 response blogs total, you’ll actually only have 12 since I didn’t assign a blog post during spring break week. Thus, you’ll only need 18 blog entries total—12 responses and six additional—rather than the 19 the syllabus says. Congratulations—everyone starts off with a two point bonus!

You can’t do more than two additional blogs per week, so if you don’t have two extra blog posts already written you’re in trouble. Get blogging!

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