Stigmergic Self-Organization And The Improvisation Of Ushahidi

Staff Writer | manwithoutqualities | April 10, 2013

Here are some excerpts from Janet’s fascinating paper.

In late 2007 in Kenya, US educated Kenyan journalist Ory Okolloh had become one of the main sources of information about the election and the violence that broke out soon after. Because of the government‟s ban on live reporting and censorship of the mainstream media, Okolloh solicited information about incidents of violence from ordinary people in the form of comments posted on her personal blog. The mainstream media was not reporting on the violence because of the government ban, and Okolloh was quickly overwhelmed by the numbers of emails and messages that she received. In order to focus on the “immediate need to get the information out”, in early January Okolloh posted a request on her blog for help to develop a website where people could post anonymously online or via mobile phone text messages, the most accessible type of communications technology in Kenya. Within a day the Ushahidi („testimony‟ in Swahili) domain was registered and the website went live within less than a week. Built by 15-20 mainly Kenyan volunteers using open source software, the project was funded entirely by donations. [...]