The Kickstarter Blog

Vonnegut Memories

  1. Tech Weekly: Have a Ball

    This week's featured Technology projects let you loop a beat, hack a ball, or snap a #selfie. The future looks like so much fun!

    Hackaball - A programmable ball for active and creative play

    Finally, a computer you can throw. The super rugged Hackaball is packed with sensors, LEDs, and a vibration motor, and kids can use the iPad app to select games or program their own. They can even turn the Hackaball into an alarm clock or a whoopee cushion.

    Podo - The First Stick & Shoot Camera

    Why settle for a selfie from arm's length when the whole world could be your photo booth? Podo is a tiny, Bluetooth-connected, stick-anywhere camera. Just download the app, stick, shoot, and share.

    Stryd – The World’s First Wearable Power Meter for Running

    Cyclists have long used a metric called power to measure their output, and now Stryd makes that number available to runners. This little wearable measures the intensity of your run over any terrain, and you can use the data captured to improve your overall efficiency. 

    ChipWhisperer-Lite: A New Era of Hardware Security Research

    This Hackaday Prize-winning project puts the power of side-channel analysis and glitching in your pocket. Designed as a tool to test embedded hardware security, the ChipWhisperer-Lite is completely open-source. Plus they have a very cute Quality Assurance Manager. (It is a dog.)

    Introducing the Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1

    The Artiphon is a completely customizable multi-instrument that connects directly to your smartphone, tablet or computer. Strum, tap, or slide your fingers across its pressure-sensitive surface and jam out with nearly any instrument you can imagine. In case you've been wondering what the instrument of the future looks like, it's definitely something like this.

    2 comments
  2. The Dangerous New Calculus of Conflict Reporting

    Ben Solomon/GlobalPost. Pro-European protesters face off against pro-Russian supporters in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv in February 2014.
    Ben Solomon/GlobalPost. Pro-European protesters face off against pro-Russian supporters in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv in February 2014.

    By reporting from far-flung war-torn corners of the world, GlobalPost is already known for telling stories that give voice to individual experiences in conflict zones — now they are looking to do more, by hiring an experienced conflict correspondent. For a period of sixteen months, this journalist will work to get first-hand stories from some of the world’s most violent places.

    So what does it mean to do conflict reporting? Why is it important, and what commodities do conflict journalists need in order to do their jobs? We asked Patrick Winn, GlobalPost's Senior Correspondent, to talk to us about it; he wrote to us from Bangkok.

    “Conflict reporter.” The words evoke journalists crouching next to bullet-pocked walls, shrapnel whizzing overheard, as they breathlessly narrate an attack. 

    Sometimes conflict reporters do that. But they’re more likely to be making nice with strange men who say they can maybe get them to the action, or at least lead them to refugees who’ve witnessed horrific violence.

    Twenty-first-century combat is a different beast from last century’s major wars. It is, in many ways, far messier and harder to untangle. It’s often waged by militants who don’t wear uniforms and avoid squaring up on traditional battlefields. They bring conflict to nightclubs and tea shops. They pair old-school ambitions, like conquering territory, with new-school tactics: demoralizing the enemy with gory photos on Twitter.

    Most people flee war. Those rushing in have their own agendas. It usually doesn’t include sheltering, feeding, and watching the backs of reporters. Covering it is not a daily thrill ride. It’s hard work, an arduous exercise in logistics.

    Mark Oltmanns/GlobalPost. Buddhist militiamen train at a shooting range in southern Thailand — a region plagued by Southeast Asia’s bloodiest insurgency.
    Mark Oltmanns/GlobalPost. Buddhist militiamen train at a shooting range in southern Thailand — a region plagued by Southeast Asia’s bloodiest insurgency.

    Combat coverage is also a massive head game. Journalists, as we know well, are increasingly finding ourselves in the crosshairs. You have to know which tip-offs to follow, which are spin, and which could be a trap, costing you your career or even your life. Meanwhile, many correspondents risking themselves to bring us these vital stories are paid less than a Foot Locker cashier. 

    For the record: I’m not a “conflict reporter” of the caliber that routinely wades into nightmares unfolding in places such as Syria or the Central African Republic. But in my seven years as a Southeast Asia correspondent, I’ve covered guerrilla rebellions in Myanmar, an Islamic insurgency in Thailand’s deep south, and bloody confrontations in Bangkok where both sides opened fire.

    Conflict reporters are often called “fearless” or “brave,” and those are excellent qualities. But neither can make up for the two most important commodities in conflict journalism: time and money. Both are hard to come by from modern media outlets, which like news produced fast and cheap, regardless of what the public needs. 

    Marc Hofer/GlobalPost. Rebels in Sudan's Nuba mountains have fought for years to replace the Khartoum government with one more tolerant of the country's ethnic and religious diversity, and more willing to share its oil and other resources evenly.
    Marc Hofer/GlobalPost. Rebels in Sudan's Nuba mountains have fought for years to replace the Khartoum government with one more tolerant of the country's ethnic and religious diversity, and more willing to share its oil and other resources evenly.

    Producing that series on Thailand’s insurgency, called “Red Light Jihad,” was neither fast nor cheap. It required lots of time to gain the trust of separatists, militias, sex workers, and others hardwired to distrust strangers — particularly those carrying big cameras and asking hard questions.

    But money is even more crucial. Conflict ratchets up the cost of everything, especially services journalists need, such as hotels, translators, and drivers. You may find drivers willing to take you through a war zone, but they’ll demand (and deserve) a premium. 

    More expensive still are “fixers,” the unsung heroes of journalism, who open doors to key players. Bearing witness to conflict can win awards for journalists; it only brings fixers close to danger, with no promise of grandeur. Yet when trouble strikes in the field — harassment by police and militias, for example — journalists often rely on fixers to pull strings and make the problem go away. Fixers have prevented me from getting arrested in Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The good ones are not cheap.

    Tracey Shelton/GlobalPost. Tank fire hits a Syrian rebel post in Aleppo in late 2012, killing Issa Aiash, 30, his young brother Ahmed, 17, and Sheihk Mamoud, 42.
    Tracey Shelton/GlobalPost. Tank fire hits a Syrian rebel post in Aleppo in late 2012, killing Issa Aiash, 30, his young brother Ahmed, 17, and Sheihk Mamoud, 42.

    Without solid conflict reporting, we’re left with propaganda. Rather than illuminating the world’s conflicts, major broadcasters often prefer to broadcast political gossip, or focus the lens on celebrity anchors and misleading good-versus-evil narratives.

    Conflict reporters are the world’s eyes and ears on the battlefield. Their job is to remind of war’s ugliness, to go beyond the propaganda and show us what's really happening where bombs strike and bullets fly.  They’re the ones who can call out atrocities and shame those who perpetrate them.

    The world’s conflicts are only getting messier and we need conflict reporters more than ever. Let’s make sure we keep funding them to make it to the front lines and tell the world what they’ve seen.

    Leave a comment
Loading small 9cd608b53c63844322bca1d7d2cfa9d9cf2b2d91b09deb1c37b02bb990161eab
Please wait