TED Fellows

Basetrack revisited: A TED Fellow tells war stories from inside

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Teru Kuwayama TEDBlog

Groundbreaking media experiment Basetrack sought to rejig how America’s wars are reported. TED Fellow Teru Kuwayama harnessed the communication tools of our time to present embedded reportage in a whole new way. Following the deployment of 1/8 – 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines – to southern Afghanistan, Basetrack’s embedded media team collaborated with soldiers to tell the stories of their daily lives, funnelling photos and updates onto an interactive online map. Enhanced with a live newsfeed, Twitter, and Facebook, dispatches were bidirectional, information-rich, and intimate, connecting Marines and Corpsmen to their families and the public. Basetrack provided an unprecedented platform for those the media typically overlook in war – combatants and their families.

Basetrack promised a real shift in the way soldiers’ experiences are conveyed to the world, but in early February, the Marine Corps pulled the plug on this experiment in layered communication. Though perplexed, Basetrack’s participants and supporters believe it’s only a matter of time before the platform’s value is recognized and accepted.

Undeterred, Teru and his team now plan to insert themselves within one of the more consequential constituencies in their area of operations – the Afghan civilian population. We await their forthcoming tour of duty with anticipation.

Image: Teru Kuwayama in Afghanistan, October 2010. Photo by Tivadar Domaniczky, Basetrack