Big Data

The places where America's drones are striking, now on Instagram

An aerial image of a Nov. 7 drone strike at Beyt al-Ahmar, Yemen

An aerial image of a Nov. 7 drone strike at Beyt al-Ahmar, Yemen // Dronestagram

So far this year the American military has launched more than 330 drone strikes in Afghanistan alone -- an average greater than one per day. In Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia the numbers are smaller -- 80 altogether -- but the lesser frequency doesn't make the strikes any more comprehensible. From this side of the war, America's drone strikes feel very remote, their consequences quite abstract, their targets unmoored to actual physical locations.

But with our powerful maps and comprehensive satellite images of the world over, visuals of each of those places lives online, a few clicks away, if we would bother to look. A new project, Dronestagram, is doing the searching for you, marrying the images of Google Maps satellite view to the episodic, image-sharing capacities of Tumblr and Instagram. When drone strikes are reported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (which focuses on Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia but not Afghanistan), writer James Bridle tracks down the locations on Google Maps and then Instagrams the picture. He annotates each drone's-eye-view with a caption about the strike, noting any known casualties.

Read more at The Atlantic

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// July 24