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Blogs: The good, the bad, the disappointing

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24 February 2011 11:43

Prakash Mirchandani is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre and lectures on strategic communication to the Australian Defence College.

In the wake of the Egypt uprising, I was interested to see a website which used satellite pictures to analyse the unrest. The source of the images is Digital Globe, a company that has linked up with media organisations to bring us news pictures from space. It is surprising that Digital Globe has not released images from Libya, where media access is particularly difficult at the moment.

Digital Globe might take a pointer from actor George Clooney, who is leading a consortium to hire a satellite to monitor peace efforts in Southern Sudan. He is doing this through a program called the Satellite Sentinel. If Clooney can do this for Sudan, why can't others interested in the fate of Middle East countries, whose leaders have shut down communications, follow suit'

If these are positive signs emerging from the activist use of new media, there is more sinister use of activism revealed by the US Air Force, which has released a tender for the creation of 500 fake online identities. The tender states, in part: 'Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly (sic) consistent.'

The whole intent of the net is to move towards transparency, so why try and do psyops now' Will it be to counter stories such as Wikileaks' revelations that the Red Cross was allegedly coerced into downplaying the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan during airstrikes' The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten says so, from its own cache of Wikileaks cables.

And speaking of military information campaigns, a postscript to yesterday's Senate Estimates hearings, where Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Angus Houston said Australia's Afghan partners were stepping up to the challenge of fighting the Taliban. While mourning the latest tragic death, that of Sapper Jamie Larcombe, it is disappointing that the ADF made barely a passing mention of his unnamed Afghan interpreter, who died in the same action. If we treat our Afghan allies with such casualness, their 'stepping up' may not be as enthusiastic in future.

Photo by Flickr user Onno B.

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