analyzing data as a revolutionary act
Rich Jones is the 23-year-old hacker behind OpenWatch, "a global participatory counter-surveillance project which uses cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures." His apps OpenWatch and CopRecorder are designed to secretly record interactions with police and others to document and--with data gathered to show patterns--eventually put a chilling effect on the abuse of power.
"It's a new kind of journalism. When people think citizen media, right now they think amateur journalism ... I don't think that's revolutionary," Jones told me. "I don't think that's what the '90s cyberutopianists were dreaming of. I think the real value of citizen media will be collecting data."
Already, CopRecorder is in the hands of 50,000 users, who've just happened to stumble on the app one way or another. Jones hopes that they'll upload their encounters with authority figures so that he can start to build a database of what citizens' encounters are like in different places. Then, he figures, patterns will emerge and he'll be able to point out to the world exactly where the powerful are abusing their authority.
This guy gets it.