Tuesday 15 July 2014

What is Bellingcat

This week I've launched the Kickstarter for my new website, Bellingcat, which I hope will solve one issue I've come across again and again.  Often I've been invited to various events where people who have developed great tools and techniques for working with open source information have spoken in front of a crowd of eager journalists, activists, researchers, etc, who listen to the presentation, then go home and forget about it.  With Bellingcat I'm trying to do something that will keep those people engaged with those tools and techniques, and also show others how to use them.

Bellingcat has contributors writing for the site on a variety of subjects, but all using open source information for their work.  Over the last two years I've used open source information to investigate the conflict in Syria, but it's not just about conflict zones, with the OCCRP demonstrating the use of open source information to investigate cross-border crime and corruption.

I want to engage Bellingcat's contributors with the tools and techniques organisations like the OCCRP have developed, but also teach others how to use them.  Along with news and analysis, Bellingcat has guides and case studies so anyone can learn the same techniques we've used in our investigations, creating new investigators.

We also plan to have ongoing projects which Bellingcat readers can get involved in, learning about tools and techniques while contributing to the projects in a meaningful way.  In the coming weeks I hope to provide information about these projects, and how Bellingcat readers can get involved.

Bellingcat is as much about the readers as it is the contributors.  We only have to look at what's happening with Ukraine and Gaza to see why it's important to understand open source information and why verification is important.  If you agree, then please donate to the Bellingcat Kickstarter.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Brown Moses Announces Bellingcat - Open Source Investigations For All

Update - The Bellingcat Kickstarter is now live, with more details on Bellingcat.  Donate £5 or more to get access to the Bellingcat website, with exclusive content and podcasts.

I have big news to announce. I will be launching a website called Bellingcat.

As a champion of open source tools, I cannot imagine bringing this website to life in any other way than appealing to my community of supporters who have brought me to where I am now. So, we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on July 14.

Bellingcat is a website that triumphs the power and potential of using open source information.

It focuses on two main objectives:

1. It will bring together a group of writers and activists who through using open source tools have transformed journalism and solidified themselves as experts in their fields, such as (might already be familiar with these great people): Peter Jukes; my anonymous phone hacking contributor; Jonathan Krohn; Phillip Smyth; Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi; and more.

2. It will be a place that will attract others to come and learn how to use these same tools, techniques, and processes. Bellingcat will include how-to guides, case studies, articles, and other media such as webinars on the latest tools and technologies, which will aid others in becoming citizen open source investigators.

For me, Bellingcat is about giving other people out there, just like me, a chance to learn what I've learnt over the last two years by trial and error in one place, making it as easy as possible to investigate the things they are passionate about. I also want to help support the people who are already doing the same kind of work on a variety of subjects, and get them involved with the opportunities I'm presented with on a regular basis— new technology projects, contacts with all sorts of organisations and individuals who could benefit from their expertise.

I welcome any of your ideas for the crowdfunding page. The success of this open source endeavor relies on participation. YOUR participation. Please join me in making this a reality.

To be part of the Bellingcat mailing list, sign up here.  You can also follow Bellingcat on Twitter.

Please contact brownmoses@gmail.com with any media queries.