May 16, 2013 § Leave a comment


Have you heard of Formerly known as Data Without Borders, DataKind “brings together leading data scientists with high impact social organizations through a comprehensive, collaborative approach that leads to shared insights, greater understanding, and positive action through data in the service of humanity.” It’s a brilliant idea that, even in it’s short tenure, has already had impressive impact. For example, these were some of the preliminary project descriptions from the World Bank before their March DataKind datadrive, and the video below discusses results. Also,  Canopy is a project that came out of a DataKind event a few weeks ago. As Adam Laiacano notes, “The NYC Parks Department brought full dumps of their databases and a handful of questions. Volunteers brought their modeling, data munging, visualizing, and overall hacking skills.”

‘Data Scientist,’ as you know, is a burgeoning profession with immense projected growth. It’s not surprising that some of the top firms and non-profits have hired their own in-house data specialist (or team of specialists). But for those not up to speed or are fiscally unable to hire a data scientists, DataKind is a fabulous idea that allows good causes to harness and interact the unique and priceless troves of data they collect.

Simply put, datakind is very cool.

You can volunteer or access the services of  Datakind here, and follow DataKind’s blog here.


What nations does Syria border?

May 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

In an exceptional feat of human rights reporting, the New York Times has created a compilation of videos from the Syrian conflict, with associated GIS data, tweets, and general information. It is a heart-wrenching, enraging, sickening, and mournful compilation to watch–but somehow essential to watch as well.  I hope that this reporting will not become banal, and that the writing and reading of this post will be more than superficial. In the very least, I hope that we watch some of these videos and engrave them upon a portion consciousness that excites us to learn and do more; to not merely pass over this conflict as yet another, far removed, and somewhat surreal atrocity. Lets be informed. There is no obvious solution for what can or should happen to resolve this entrenched conflict; there are plenty of calls for and against international intervention (whatever that means and whoever it is), but does the average citizen even know enough to have an opinion?

A few of the videos depict entire families—-families once as vibrant, quirky, and alive as yours and mine, with tiny children and future hopes—-massacred. To recognize that these are real, once living, men, women, and children is essential, but in a digitally overwrought world it is also hard to imagine. So take a moment to imagine. Genuinely stop now and imagine.


You may not know much about the Syrian conflict, and you could know more. Enough, at least, to know where Syria is and bit about it’s culture and ardent conflict.

I realize that there are wars, atrocities, issues, and injustices all around the world. This blog is a tiny attempt to highlight some of them. There is no hierarchy intimated here. They all deserve our attention, energy, and informed activism. But in this post, the bell tolls for Syria.

How the ICC’s Website is Undermining the Court – and Justice

May 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Justice in Conflict

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 11.20.17 AMIn the world of international criminal justice, it would be easy to think that the ICC’s website is a trivial matter. But it’s not. So I was thrilled to read that Kevin Jon Heller has written a brief but critically important plea to the ICC to update its website:

The ICC’s website is its public face. Scholars, activists, and interested laypeople — many who live in the situations under investigation — rely on it as their primary source of information about the Court’s activities. So it is imperative that the Court update its website in a timely fashion.Time and again, however, it does not…The ICC always emphasizes the need for effective outreach. It should start by keeping its website up to date.

I could not agree more. Over the last few years, I have experienced and been told countless times how poor and inaccessible the ICC’s website is. It is…

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Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2013

May 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

“The Human Rights Watch Film Festival returns to New York screens from June 13 to 23, 2013, with a program of 20 challenging and provocative films from across the globe that call for justice and social change. Now in its 24th edition, the festival will once again be presented at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and this year adds downtown screenings at the IFC Center.” Read a full list of film synopses here.



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