A couple of weeks ago, Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky literally walked viewers through Bellingcat’s evidence for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, recreating the social media postings of a Russian contract soldier from his home to the battlefield. It was great investigative journalism twice over. And all of the evidence was “open data” or “open source” – publicly-accessible information.
As Ostrovsky concluded, it showed ‘how difficult it is for any government… to try to keep anything secret from pretty much anyone in the modern world’.
In a far less expert way, I have been investigating evidence for theft and destruction of cultural property on Conflict Antiquities. In my month on Public Archaeology 2015, I’ll be reviewing how I have confirmed claims of destruction in Iraq and Syria from my home in Sussex.
I want to demonstrate Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins’ point about the value of open-source information for investigations of cultural property crime: ‘anyone… from their own home, can actually go and see and try to piece together the actual truth, rather than relying on propaganda.’