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As protests continue across the Middle East and North Africa, a few tech-savvy individuals have crafted simple tools for tracking recent developments by tapping into social media platforms, notes The Huffington Post (below). Meanwhile, Boing Boing lists Christchurch earthquake resources.

Software developer Virender Ajmani created a Google Maps Mashup that plots recent tweets from Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and Iran in real-time (or close to it).

Visitors to this tweet-centric display can select one country at a time to view a national map and tweets tagged with the country’s hashtag (#Bahrain for Bahrain, #Iran for Iran, and so on). Tweets appear one at a time every five seconds. Depending on tweeters’ available geolocation information tweets may appear over different cities around a single country. The map includes tweets from around the world, as well, and is not limited to people on the ground. If, for example, a user in the U.K. tweets about Egypt and uses the hashtag “#Egypt,” that tweet appears over Egypt’s capital, Cairo.

A related project by Twitter user @Arasmus maps the unfolding violence in Libya, where government forces have reportedly led bloody attacks on anti-Gaddafi protesters.

Using information garnered via “trusted accounts on Twitter,” @Arasmus has constructed an interactive Google Map that plots the sites of reported (albeit, unconfirmed) violence. According to the L.A. Times, “users select icons on the map to separate reports of protests, police violence and death tolls.” Details are also provided for each report.


Al Jazeera, literally, “The Island,” abbreviating “The [Arabian] Peninsula”, is headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It’s the world’s first English-language news channel headquartered in the Middle East.

Al Jazeera English is available live through their web portal. It also has a twitter channel, a Facebook page, a Live Blog and a YouTube channel.

White House officials turned to Al Jazeera English to monitor the protests in Egypt and Libya. But even POTUS can’t watch Al Jazeera on cable. United States cable operators don’t carry Al Jazeera. It’s un-American.

A live feed of the Al Jazeera English channel is also available for mobile users, including the iPhone, iPad and live through their web portal for free.

With the possible exception of the PBS News Hour, Al Jazeera, which combines and integrates social media with their global satellite news operation, makes US broadcasters and cable operators irrelevant.

All the payoffs to “Maximum Service Broadcasters” and the evisceration of “net neutrality” legislation for cable operators won’t put them back together again.

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