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Cellphone and Internet access helps – and hinders – accurate reporting in Kenya

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The new mapping initiative is intended as a repository for futurereconciliation efforts; Ushahidi means "witness" or "testimony" in Swahili. Unlike international monitoring and news agency dispatches, the reports are intended to be immediate and can be reported by cellphone text message/SMS (short message service). [Editor's note: ]

Such reporting was central to letting the outside world know about protests in Burma (Myanmar) last fall, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In 2005 in Egypt, organizers used SMS and e-mail to rally against President Hosni Mubarak over a referendum to hold multiparty elections. Other mapping documentary projects, or "mapumentaries," have been organized less spontaneously, including a Crisis in Darfur map organized by the US Holocaust Museum; a site mapping environmental pollution set up The Center for Public Integrity; and a map of a neighborhood destroyed by a hurricane in Louisiana set up by a Dartmouth researcher.

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