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Open Source Tech Used To Monitor Afghan Election 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-as-in-voting dept.
chrb writes "BBC News is reporting on how the Alive in Afghanistan project is helping to oversee the Afghan elections using open-source technologies. The site was set up by Brian Conley, who is also responsible for 'Alive in Baghdad', 'Alive in Mexico', and who was arrested for filming protests in China last year. The Afghan site uses FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi to process and visualize SMS texts from Afghani citizens, allowing reports from all over the country to be rapidly collated and re-distributed globally."
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Open Source Tech Used To Monitor Afghan Election

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  • hope it works (Score:1, Insightful)

    by thexdane (148152)

    i hope it works, tho somehow i doubt it will do anything even if there is a lot of corruption

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Well, maybe Bin Laden will text "totes votin today u guys!" and we can finally close the curtain on that one.
      • Bin Laden will never be captured or killed. He's one hellava resourceful SOB. That, and he has prophet-like status among his twisted followers that will die for him.

        • Re:hope it works (Score:5, Insightful)

          by causality (777677) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:09AM (#29129029)

          Bin Laden will never be captured or killed. He's one hellava resourceful SOB. That, and he has prophet-like status among his twisted followers that will die for him.

          He makes a fine Emmanuel Goldstein.

          • Re:hope it works (Score:4, Insightful)

            by KTheorem (999253) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:25AM (#29129145)

            Bin Laden will never be captured or killed. He's one hellava resourceful SOB. That, and he has prophet-like status among his twisted followers that will die for him.

            He makes a fine Emmanuel Goldstein.

            My first thought upon reading that was a pleasant "Wow. That's pretty insightful." Then I was revolted upon reviewing it and coming to the same conclusion once again. Well done (and screw you for bringing me down ;-) )

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Wait a minute - bin Laden's Jewish?

          • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Conspiricy Theory: Bin Ladin is dead, but by keeping him "alive" in the media, it allows the Futile War to continue as planned.

        • by EdZ (755139)
          That, or Osama Bin Laden has become a Dread Pirate Roberts.
        • by V!NCENT (1105021)
          I think he is traceable. There is no reason why the USA couldn't have killed him. But think about this, OK? -> If you were the USA government, and you would have killed him, wouldn't it not be extremely beneficial to keep that quite? I mean; no Osama, no war...
          • by TheDarAve (513675)

            Because making a martyr of someone usually just helps their cause.

          • I mean; no Osama, no war...

            Uhh..no. This is a war against Islamic terrorism, not just one man. The fact there are these cells all around the world acting independently nukes your theory.

          • There's another reason. Please wait while I put on my conspiracy freak hat (looks like tin-foil). The Bin Laden family have a looong-time business/social relationship with the Bush family, going back a while (Grandad Bush did oil deals with Grandpa Bin Laden). The Bin Laden name wasn't spoken after 9/11 until Secret Service verified that every Bin Laden was in the air out of the country, and safe from vigilantes. Hell, just Google the whole friggin story.

            • by V!NCENT (1105021)
              Or, ofcourse, Osama is still secretly allied with the USA and does something extremely patriotic xD, okey whatever... :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Admiral Ag (829695)

      The election is a farce, as is the Afghan government, which relies on the support of a federation of armed tribal gangs. Another fake election just like the South Vietnamese ones, held mostly to make our moron governments look good. The BBC in particular is pushing this line of bullshit, for which its members deserve to be abandoned in Afghanistan for the amusement of the locals.

      Osama and his friends are long gone to Pakistan, it seems, and so the "coalition of the idiots" is now stuck in a country where ev

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tsa (15680)

        You may have been modded Flamebait but I agree with you completely. The whole Afghanistan elections are a waste of time and effort. We should never have gone there.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        The election is a farce, as is the Afghan government, which relies on the support of a federation of armed tribal gangs.

        Citation, please.
        The Afghan Army and Police are far from perfect, however, they exist and, especially the army, are doing good work and are getting better. The police are less mature as a organization and have more problems than the army. I've been there, seen it, lived it. I will be doing all of that again soon. Can you say that?

        The national government is capable of controlling both the army and police and have on occasion, reeled them in from doing stupid stuff before they do it. Again, I've lived it

        • No. The answer to 9/11 was to do what the Israelis did in the case of Munich. Clandestine hunting down of those responsible to capture or kill them.

          If that involved putting small assassination teams into Afghanistan, then the Aussies, Kiwis and Brits were always happy to lend out the SAS, the world's finest special forces, to do it.

        • So, what is your answer? Bomb the crap out every 5 to 10 years like we (the rest of the world) have been doing?

          Yes.

      • by psnyder (1326089)

        The story is that stabilizing Afghanistan is supposed to stop the terrorists from attacking us.

        What about the idea of helping to stabilize Afghanistan for the purpose of stabilizing Afghanistan? I'd rather live in a stable country. Maybe there are some individuals in Afghanistan that feel the same.

        • by Denial93 (773403)
          You know what? The Soviet invaders claimed to bring them exactly that: stability. And progress. And what they claimed was the most successful political system in the world. We call that attempt contemptible and foolhardy because we aren't Soviets or socialists, but to an Afghan, it was very much the same thing the US are attempting now. And the Afghans have rejected non-Afghan ideas of "stability" for over two millenia.

          Alexander the Great claimed (and probably honestly believed) to bring peace, progress an
          • by psnyder (1326089)
            You may be right, and time will tell, however...

            You're main argument is "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." But 3 things keep me optimistic, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The US still have military bases there but every decision for day to day living is up to those people. In all other examples throughout history, when countries have conquered, they have kept control. If you want to claim that Germany, Japan, and South Korea are just US puppets, go ahead, but I highly disagree.

            The other
            • You're main argument is "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." But 3 things keep me optimistic, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

              You can't compare them to Afghanistan. At all.

              • by psnyder (1326089)

                Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

                You can't compare them to Afghanistan. At all.

                I didn't.

                I compared what the US did (put power into the hands of the locals) to what other nations have done throughout history (keep the power for themselves).

    • by denzacar (181829)

      It will be a total sham and a waste of time.

      Votes are being sold for $10 a pop, [csmonitor.com] nobody expects the elections to be fair [bbc.co.uk] so whoever wins election results will be contested, election ink safeguard is washable [guardian.co.uk] (then again, that may save some people's fingers [thesun.co.uk]), 13-year-olds vote [twitter.com], there are reports of people being hanged for voting [nytimes.com] and somehow Britney Spears is registered to vote [trueslant.com].

      But yeah. Sure...
      A map and a bunch of anonymous SMS messages will SURELY fix all that.

  • If you are interested in this sort of stuff, you might want to check out Gordon Brown's TED Talk [ted.com] on using technology to drive social change.
  • I'll wait to celebrate until I know how the election turns out.
  • I wonder if walls can protect castles of cards.
    • by mapkinase (958129)

      Indeed. The sole lonely single exclusively singular one force alone that supports the puppet regime in Kabul are thousands and thousands of foreign troops from the most powerful countries in the West, with their top of the notch equipment, bombs, airplanes, drones, satellites, etc.

      Yet, significant portion of the country is still in control of Mujahedeen, armed w/ Kalashnikovs.

      What is the difference between those two hugely mismatched sides?

      One side is not afraid to die, the other - is very much afraid of it

      • What is the difference between those two hugely mismatched sides?

        One side is not afraid to die, the other - is very much afraid of it.

        One person loves his death, the only future event one can be 100% sure event, and his enemy loves his short pathetic life the most.

        The terrorists are winning because they have more popular support than the US military (read: the country is filled with insane and backwards religious fanatics who think living in the stone age and raping children is the hip thing to do), which i

  • by painehope (580569) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:04AM (#29129399)

    He will be featured in either "Dead In A Seedy Hollywood Motel : Hookers And Blow" or "Dead In Detroit : I Met The Ethnic Equality Paradigm And Didn't Survive".

  • Does it (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    come with BombBlock Plus?

  • Open-source software is great, but doesn't really matter when all politicians are corrupt and most of the country have other priorities than voting, like getting to feed their families and avoid being killed by one side or the other.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What are they running now?

  • Good Products (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @10:37AM (#29132827) Homepage Journal

    It's unfortunate that this entire thread appears to be about the politics of this situation and none about the tech. Ushahidi is the work of Erik Hersman [whiteafrican.com] and the folks at Afrigadget [afrigadget.com]. I've been fortunate enough to hang out with Erik some and he's a really cool guy with some amazing ideas around tech and the developing world (specifically Africa in his case but they are applicable in many other settings.) If you are on twitter he's worth following - @whiteafrican [twitter.com]
     
    And FrontlineSMS has been getting great press lately as people have been getting more and more creative in its use. It is producing great results in first world countries as well as the developing world. What I find exciting though is that in the FrontlineSMS forums one meets developers that are helpful and even if they can't solve a persons problem, the code is all open and others are welcome to add the functionality they need. This is huge for the NGOs that they are able to get tools they need at little or no cost while at the same time not getting stuck with vendor lock in that limits their options. And it's a great tool.
     
    Every so often we have an ask slashdot about how tech types can give back. FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi are two great examples of projects that are out their doing it in a big way and provide a great opportunity for geeks to get on board. If you are really hung up on worrying about Afghanistan, go to the sites of both and see all the other places they are being used in meaningful ways to make people's lives better.

  • The article overestimates the effectiveness of this kind of monitoring. That's not to say it won't help to make the election fair, but it can only deal with certain kinds of problems, such as overt intimidation of voters at the polls. It has no effect on what takes place out of view: tampering with voting machines, throwing out ballots, false counting, false reporting of the count, intimidation of voters away from the polls, and intimidation of candidates.

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