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The Wikipedia entry on the Iraq War in 12 handy bound volumes

Posted: 09/17/10 01:02 AM

US forces in Iraq were part of a firefight in the city of Fallujah on Thursday. At least six Iraqis were killed. It was not known precisely what role the American troops were playing in the situation. Even though President Obama declared the end of combat missions, the history of the Iraq War is still being written.

And it is being written, every day, on Wikipedia. The Iraq War entry on that site is massive, thousands of edits over the years. Still, the only thing most people see is the most recent version.

James Bridle is a writer, editor, and publisher in London. He gathered together all the Wikipedia material related to the war from 2004 to 2009 and made a 12 volume set of hard bound books.

We talk to James Bridle about war, the memory of the internet, and how to make an accurate accounting on a site that’s always changing.

Also in this show, we talk to Anders Wright about Halo Reach.

Comments | Filed Under: military Web Culture manufacturing

"Pain ray" to be tested on inmates

Posted: 08/26/10 06:00 AM

A new non-lethal device is coming to an LA County jail. The LA County Sheriff’s Department is calling it an Assault Intervention Device, but it’s more commonly known as a “pain ray,” and was originally developed by the military for use in Afghanistan. The device uses microwave technology to heat up moisture just below the skin, creating a sensation akin to a burn. But the pain is supposed to go away within seconds of moving out of the beam’s ray. The LA County Sheriff’s Department plans to start testing it in a dormitory at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, Calif., as a means to break up inmate brawls in common areas. We speak with Commander Robert Osborne, head of the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Technology Exploration Program, about why he sees the pain ray as a better and safer alternative to traditional methods of breaking up prison fights. And we talk with Brookings Institution senior fellow Peter W. Singer about why the US military developed the pain ray and then decided not to use it after all.

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Comments | Filed Under: military prisons weapons law enforcement

Smart phone apps at war

Posted: 08/05/10 06:00 AM

Your smart phone can do a lot of things: tell you the weather, play you some music, play video games. Or help you fight a war. There’s a boom going on right now in smart phone apps for the military. Apps that estimate bullet trajectory, apps that train you to run an anti-missile defense system, anything a soldier or officer might need, there’s, well, an app for that. Or at least there soon will be.

We hear from Luke Catania one of the winners of a recent contest held by the military for the development of apps to be used by the Army. We also talk to PW Singer, director of 21st Century Defense Initiative at Brookings, who says the efficiency, affordability, and easy distribution of apps makes them appealing to military brass. Singer also says that since many of the soldiers using the apps are 18 or 19 years old, they’ve grown up being somewhat native to the technology and it’s a lot easier to train them on a smart phone instead of a specially built piece of equipment.

Comments | Filed Under: military apps

What do the Wikileaks leaks mean in the long run?

Posted: 07/27/10 06:00 AM

Right now you can click on this link and go to a web site that features about 92,000 classified military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. President Obama wishes you weren’t able to do that because, obviously, the documents are classified. Nevertheless, someone within the US military got a hold of them and passed them along to outside hands in the interest of making them public. Eventually the documents reached the website Wikileaks, which exists solely for the purpose of publicizing confidential information from governments and large organizations.

It’s a curious situation. On the one hand, you have these documents that couldn’t be published nearly as comprehensively and quickly anywhere but the web. And they’re published by an amorphous international organization that doesn’t have to worry about making the government upset. But on the other hand, the only way I was able to make sense of what was in the documents was to read the coverage in mainstream news outlets like the New York Times.

We’ll leave it to you and the newspapers to sift through what’s in each document but we will examine the political and cultural landscape we’re now living in where such a release of documents is now possible. We hear some tape from an interview John Moe did with Julian Assange last winter about Wikileaks’ policies. Plus we hear from Micah Sifry, executive editor of, and Jonathan Zittrain who teaches law and computer science at Harvard, where he is also the co-founder and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

By the way, the link at the top there probably doesn’t work since Wikileaks’ servers are completely overwhelmed with traffic.

Comments | Filed Under: wikileaks military security

Lady Gaga helps massive military data heist

 By Larissa Anderson // Posted: 07/09/10 06:19 PM

John and I have been watching the story about Pfc. Bradley Manning unfold.  He’s the soldier who’s accused of leaking the video of a 2007 deadly American helicopter attack in Baghdad and downloading over 150,000 diplomatic cables.  We’ve been wondering about military security and how it’s possible that someone can get a hold of that much highly classified information.  An article in the New York Times says the soldier has Lady Gaga to thank for some of that information. He was able to walk out with secret information on a data cd disguised as a Lady Gaga music cd.  Because no one suspects a guy humming “Disco Stick” at the computer.

Comments | Filed Under: military gaga security

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