Basetrack was an experimental social-media project, tracking about a thousand Marines in the 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, during their deployment to southern Afghanistan in 2010–11. A small team of embedded photographers, including project founders Teru Kuwayama and Balazs Gardi, used primarily iPhones along with a Facebook page to connect Marines to their families. They curated a news feed alongside their own efforts, employed Google Maps as an interface, wrote posts in addition to photographing, all with a view “to connect[ing] a broader public to the longest war in U.S. history.” 
Trying to establish transparency in the process, they created an editing tool for the military to censor photographs and texts that might put soldiers in danger, while letting viewers know that segments had been blacked out. The military was also asked to supply reasons for the censorship, which were then made visible when a viewer placed the cursor over the blacked-out section. In large part the project was created out of frustration with mainstream media: “It wasn’t just the military that was discouraging us from making meaningful pictures,” says Kuwayama. “The magazines we worked for—or gave our pictures to—clearly didn’t want them, either. We would come back from an embed, where we’d been in the fight of our lives, and we would get these absurd reasons about how that wasn’t interesting enough to publish or wasn’t right for that week.” 
Family members, not surprisingly, responded quite differently; for example, one mother’s response on Facebook: “It has truly saved me from a devastating depression and uncontrollable anxiety after my son deployed. Having this common ground with other moms helped me so much and gives me encouragement each day.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *