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Online Riot Tracking, Abandoned Theme Parks, and More from Alt Wire Guest Blogger Dan Sinker

Alt Wire is a morning digest of links and information collected and explained by a different guest blogger every weekday. Today's guest is Dan Sinker, journalism professor and founding editor of Punk Planet magazine. We asked him for five links and here's what he came up with:

Dan Sinker

"All around the world I've been looking for new..." so sings the Jam's Paul Weller. It's a good song, and a good philosophy for exploring the web as well: Look for new things, and look for them globally. To me, while there's a lot of great stuff happening on the web locally, stretch outside the States and you suddenly unlock the door to the incredible.

Ushahidi: While newspapers in the U.S. struggle to find footing in the great digital reboot, it's exciting to see groups like Ushahidi emerge where nothing existed before using suddenly ubiquitious technologies. Originally started to report on rioting following elections in Kenya in 2008, Ushahidi is now a system for distributing reporting using cellphones with basic SMS text functionality.

Bonus link: I think that mobile technology is where all the action is at, in terms of true leveling of the information space around the globe (there are, after all 4 billion active cell phones around the world now). Peruse MobileActive.org for more exciting innovation in the global mobile space.

Abandoned Japanese Theme Parks: I can't even begin to tell you anything about this project other than the fact that I've known about it for three years and I keep coming back to it time and again. The images are so haunting and strange, I think they will probably stay with you too.

Bonus link: Dig far enough into the collection to find the surreal image of an abandoned Gulliver, still tied up by Lilliputians who long left him for dead. When I am at my absolute worst, I dream of that image. 

The music mashups of Kutiman: This Israeli musician takes snippets of YouTube videos and creates whole orchestras of new sound. I'm going to let a good friend, Kevin Duneman, take the heavy lifting on contextualizing this for you: "It's the art of it that gets me. To be able to tune in so thoroughly and pay that close attention to his source material, that is a seriously classical approach. It makes me think about the near impossibility of having another true master painter, a Rembrandt. This is that, but for now." Exactly right, Kevin. My only addition: On the above embedded video, the last movement of the song, which begins at 4:36, makes me cry every time I hear it--if it doesn't do the same to you, you'd better check that your heart is still beating.

Bonus link: This essay about Kutiman, by Merlin Mann, is simply badass.

Cameras for Kibera: An inspiring, short webdoc about a Dutch endeavor that puts video cameras into the hands of young people living in the Kibera slum in Nairobi Kenya. A good reminder of how transformative technologies we take for granted can be when placed into the right hands and the right contexts.

Added bonus: Rocketboom, the site that this video originates from, is worth a daily visit for sure.

Projeto Secreto: Brazillian journalist Denis Burgierman returned from a year in the States and set out on the road, in a tiny car, to document the growing DIY youth culture of Brazil. The goal is to create a new kind of magazine for this new generation of mediamakers (those who have grown up free from the shadow of dictatorship and open to the possibilities of a digital revolution). Entirely written in Portuguese (so brush up, or install Ubiquity--detailed below), this blog offers a unique look into a unique time in a unique land.

Bonus link:The final magazine concept as presented in this Flickr set makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Bonus bonus link: Ubiquity, translation made easy. The Mozilla Foundation has a project called Ubiquity that's a little confusing to explain in full (go to their site for the full explanation though, like me, you may still be confused), but it's a tool that I use for a single purpose: translating text from web pages in place. Once you've installed Ubiquity into your Firefox browser, you can simply select text, right click (or, on a Mac control-click) on it and a contextual menu will open up that allows you to choose, simply Translate, and Ubiquity will do the heavy lifting of figuring out what language it is, translating the text, and--to me this is the best part--placing the newly translated text back into position on the very website you're looking at. The first few times you use it, it's like magic.

BIO: Dan Sinker teaches in the journalism department at Columbia College Chicago where he focuses on entrepreneurial journalism and the mobile web. He was the founding editor of the influential underground culture magazine Punk Planet until its closure in 2007 and is the editor of We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet, The Collected Interviews. He blogs about media for the Huffington Post and makes videos about DIY businesses at the website hangingbyashoestring.

Previous Alt Wire Guests: Phil Yu, Matt Novak, Jason Marsh, David LaBounty, Jen Angel, Will Braun, Regan Hofmann, Josh Breitbart, Andrew Lam,  Jessica ValentiJessica HoffmannNoah ScalinRinku SenPaddy JohnsonMelissa Mcewan,  Fatemeh Fakhraie Joe BielAnne Elizabeth Moore