Sunday, June 04, 2006

Who Are You Going to Believe? Me or Your Lying Eyes?

Digital Evidence was the title of the proceedings from the 2000 International Digital Resources in the Humanities conference. At the time the title "digital evidence" sounded exotic and indicated the beginning of the shift to scholarship supported by digital materials that were enriched with metadata rather than traditional print in the codex form. Now the term also has a forensic meaning, one that can have political significance as well.

One form of digital evidence has been featured on the BBC website this week: news broadcasts available on the Internet that integrate amateur video shot by inexpensive devices by citizens in the developing world. The controversial Ishaqi footage seems to document war atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers on Iraqi civilians. Military spokesmen said the men, women, and children died as a result of a roof collapsing during an air raid, while their neighbors said that they were summarily executed at close range.

Elsewhere on the political spectrum, immigration opponents are interested in utilizing digital evidence, from sources such as streaming video shot near the border, that seems to depict suspicious, unsavory, or illegal activity. There is even a contest to foster applications of video technology and distributed networks to the problem of effective border control. To see people crossing legally, check out these webcams of U.S. Borders that were featured in a 2002 PBS documentary.



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