How these Philly technologists are helping tell the story of #Ferguson - Technical.ly Philly

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Aug. 18, 2014 3:01 pm

How these Philly technologists are helping tell the story of #Ferguson

They're collecting, curating and saving social media reports from the protests in Ferguson, Mo. "No matter what happens, this stuff will live on," said Amy Hoy.
A screenshot of WarOnFerguson.com, taken Monday afternoon.

A screenshot of WarOnFerguson.com, taken Monday afternoon.

A Philly-based husband and wife team are curating social media to help tell the ongoing story of Ferguson, Mo., where protests broke out after a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown earlier this month.

Entrepreneurs Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs launched War On Ferguson Thursday to catalog first-hand accounts in the form of images, videos and tweets.

Visit WarOnFerguson.com

“We felt we had to do something in response to the crazy militarized conflict that went down on Wednesday,” Hoy wrote in an email.

The goal is to create a visual “enormous chronological timeline” and an “archive of the evidence from this historic movement,” she said.

“If you don’t already know what’s happening, or whom to follow, it’s nearly impossible to find these first-hand reports,” Hoy said. “The learning curve is huge. There’s a ton of chatter and hashtag spam, too. But every American citizen needs to know what’s going on in Ferguson. And yet, with few exceptions, national media is not doing a great job reporting it.”

Hoy co-organizes the popular bootstrapping conference BaconBizConf with Indy Hall’s Alex Hillman and runs the software company Slash7 with Fuchs. She has recently been spending several hours a day “searching, curating & retweeting first-hand accounts, pictures, and video” of the Ferguson protests, she said.

The crew is backing up the media they collect (“about 3,500 first-hand tweets, 1,500 photos and 600+ videos,” as of this morning) and is also in touch with The Internet Archive and other organizations to share what they’ve collected.

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“No matter what happens, this stuff will live on,” Hoy said.

This morning, the Twitter account @WarOnFerguson showed the scene at the site of the protests and beyond: volunteers cleaning up a QuikTrip gas station that has become the center of the action; the Monday press conference regarding Brown’s autopsy; and images from the night before, when people broke into a McDonalds to get milk to help relieve tear gas victims.

Here’s a look at the technology that powers the site, according to Hoy:

The @WarOnFerguson account is a data stream for the site. All tweets & retweets are saved via a script that runs every few minutes. The script fetches the images and videos to display from pic.twitter.com, Instagram and Vine, and backs them up, too. Then the script generates a static file including the pictures and videos, commits the change, and pushes it up to GitHub pages.

Hoy tweeted last night asking for help with curating WarOnFerguson and said the team, which includes South Carolina-based developer and Slash7 colleague Thomas Cannon and Los Angeles-based media consultant Tameka Kee, would work on the project “as long as it goes on.”

“We can’t go to Ferguson, we can’t physically help, but we can help preserve the work of those who are there,” Hoy wrote in an email.

Companies: Slash7
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