An Archive of Jacob Appelbaum’s Post-Katrina weblog

The Internet Archive and Webzine2005!

Posted in algiers,astrodome,houston,iraq,media,neworleans,photos,travel,turkey,videos by jacob on September 24, 2005

Today I’m speaking at Webzine and I’ve got a great announcement.

Thanks to the Internet Archive I’ve now found a permenent home for the photos and videos I’ve planned to release for some time. I’ve gone ahead and uploaded both JPEG images and Canon cr2 RAW files. Thanks to TTK at the Archive for helping with this project. He’s a bad ass and you should call the Archive to let them know how much you love him for his hard work. I stayed at the Archive last night until 22:00 and I think he stayed later. Thank you TTK.

Regarding the actual content, you can preview the images by looking at the smaller JPEGs. If you’re interested in using the RAW files, you can decode the file (very useful jwz script here, thanks Jamie!) and do anything you’d like with it. In the near future I’m going to process the RAW files into very large and uncompressed JPEGs but at the moment time is fleeting so I’ve put that off until next week.

If you’re interested in my photos from the Houston Astrodome:

If you’re interested in my photos from New Orleans:

As it just so happens I’ve also finally released all of my photos from my recent trip to Turkey and into Iraq.

Here are the photos from Turkey:

Here are the photos from Iraq:

I’ve also released about 21 videos that I made with the help of a few friends in Iraq:

All of these photos and videos are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5. If you don’t agree to those terms and you still want to use the content, just ask and I’m sure we can work something out.

I’d like people to put them to use in the wikipedia, into books, into their art projects, public benefits or anything that suits your fancy. You don’t have to contact me for use even if it’s commercial. I don’t want your money, give it to the The Internet Archive or the EFF if you feel it’s important for money to change hands. Those people have helped me more times than I can count and they deserve your support. On the offhand chance you or someone you know is planning to use any of this content, I’d love an email just so I know it’s being used. Credit should be attributed to Jacob Appelbaum.

I hope this helps. Enjoy.

An interview by Esther Sassaman for an upcoming text

The following is a personal interview by Esther Sassaman:

Bloggers are known for strong political opinions and too much openness about their love lives. A growing number have taken the expressive power of the blog into new realms. Many bloggers of all interests and political viewpoints have debunked inaccuracies portrayed by the mainstream media, maintained compendia on rapidly developing stories more quickly than big broadcasters, and established their own live news services in conflict zones. Jacob Applebaum is one of this last category, publishing photojournalism from Iraq, Houston, and New Orleans that has often surpassed the news value, narrative power, and beauty of photography produced by longstanding news service photographers. Appelbaum went to Iraq in April 2005 as a photographer and to visit friends, and visited Houston’s Astrodome after Katrina to help set up a low power FM radio network and wireless service [] for details. He is currently in the poor, black Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, administering a data center at the behest of community organizer and former Black Panther Malik Rahim.

Jacob’s photographs have gained a new audience with the Houston Astrodome series [], which has become widely distributed. I reached him on Tuesday, the second day of his stay in Algiers. We talked about the situation in Algiers on Tuesday, but also about his personal motivations for coming to activism, and his background.

You can read the rest of the interview off site.

Radio Interview with Chris Pirillo

Last night I talked to Chris Pirillo for his weekly show. You can hear the interview on their site.

Some thoughts on my first night in New Orleans

How many times must a mosquito bite you before you stop noticing? I think I’m up to a few dozen in the last hour.

I feel like I’m back in Iraq with Tyler and Jayme. The powers gone out again and the emergency generators are kicking power into the vsat uplinks. Only we’re using EVDO and the latency is better. Tyler and Jayme aren’t here but I think they’d feel right at home. The air smells polluted, the bugs are biting, the weather is easily 40C and it’s nearly 01:00am. The humidity is so thick your glasses sweat. My forehead is covered in sweat and I’m just sitting in a chair typing. My arms are breaking out into a heat rash, I’ve been spoiled by San Francisco’s cold ocean air. Much like being in Iraq, I wonder what the EPA has to say about living in this area. I’m pretty sure people are shaving off decades if they swim in the river or if they drink the local water they’d likely die.

On the drive into the city I swore I was in some horrible science fiction movie about doomsday in America. Army Humvee after Army Humvee. Check points, automatic rifles, helicopter after helicopter.

As I’m sitting here, the only light I can see is the light of my laptop illuminating my fingers. My cell phone would light up if people could call in. Only rarely does that work, no one has left voicemail but when they do get through they tell me they’ve rung for hours, upwards of two dozen times.

We didn’t have to pass through a single check point to enter the city, we simply went around them. There was much debate about the amount of danger we would be in by coming here and so far I feel pretty safe. We didn’t bring a gun, partly because we didn’t want to believe it would be so bad that we would need one and because it was probably impossible to get one at such short notice. I don’t think that was a mistake, we don’t need firearms. I do find it pretty surprising that the American government has recently hired Blackwater security forces to patrol the streets here. At the same time they’re removing firearms from citizens who rightfully feel they need them. It’s a strange future we’re living in and have no doubt about it, we’re living in the future. It’s too bad that we’re living in that other future, the dystopian one. The one with terrorists, murderers, corruption at the highest government levels, global wars and a world with an environment being destroyed by serious pollution. A world where people are now literately drowning in it.

Every few minutes a red beacon light swings around in the plastic dome of some patrol truck looking for people breaking curfew. I assume they’re police out for looters or survivors or whatever you’re calling people doing what ever it is they’re doing out after dark. When we drove in to the city, we didn’t know the curfew was at 18:00 hours, we arrived at 18:30. We’re lucky the sun was still up as it’s not a good place to be driving around in a big unmarked van. We have the benefit of being white but I suppose when you’re shooting people in the pitch black of night you only see the targets face when the tracers accompany the welcoming party.

The sound of helicopters that don’t seem to have lights is familiar, I can’t put my finger on where. Some warzone, somewhere. Right?

It’s late and I have to be up in the morning because the military is going to march down the road here in some sort of security exercise. I want to photograph it because I can’t believe it’s happening in an American city. It’s amazing to me to see a city basically under martial law. It’s clear that the people on the ground here are authorized to use lethal force. At the moment I’m breaking one of own traveling rules, I have my back to a door. I can’t hear someone if they walk up and I suppose it’s out of hope that this place isn’t so dangerous that I can’t sleep safely.

We recently got video streaming working from one of our laptops. Some of the best hackers on the planet decided that our neo-gonzo journalism was worth some bandwidth, I’m pretty flattered and I hope I don’t let them down. I hope they’re ready to watch Joel and I cook food, build computer networks, scout antenna locations and otherwise talk about the current state of New Orleans.

There’s that light again, the patrol seems to be pretty frequent. The helicopters are flying overhead again. I wonder if they have thermal imaging gear? Certainly they’re working overtime to patrol the skies but I wonder what they’re collecting data on and what they plan to do with it.

The people on the ground here, Malik being the main man, are really righteous people. They’re getting ready to help the citizens of this parish to live, to eat, to be clean, to sleep safely, to communicate with the world.

Helicopter again. It’s like clock work and you can hardly see them. I wish I had my night vision goggles. Of all the times to leave them in the closet at home I had to pick this time.

Hopefully all the plans we have will actually work out, hopefully we will be able to get more fuel into the generators, hopefully we’ll get more generators on the ground. Hopefully we’ll be able to get better uplinks without having to resort to using the cell network but it seems doubtful. I haven’t heard back from the people at DirectNIC. I suppose they’re busy with something else, hopefully someone else can supply these people with uplinks to the real world.

I hear some animals whelping in the background and it makes me nervous about having my back to the door. I can’t hear footsteps over the sound of the generator. Stray dogs barking, generators generating, helicopters chopping and the smell of oil in the air.

On the way into the city we didn’t have the same confrontation with death as we did when we entered Louisiana. It smelled like slow swamp death just waiting for you to lose control of your car.

I wonder if the reporters are being censored here. I wonder what will happen to me when I enter the main parts of the city to find an uplink or other people who need a connection. I wonder how things will fare in this city that’s under the boot of a general, the water of a storm, the eyes of the nation and on the tip of every tongue in the world.

It’s the 4th anniversary of September 11th.

I remember laying in bed four years ago waking up to a phone call that changed my world. Only a few days prior I had considered joining the military because I wanted to find some sort of direction in life. I slept on it and when I woke up I found my answer. I knew that my job in life wasn’t to be a solider and to follow orders of a political machine. I knew that I had to guide my life by an ethical standard that never bent to misusing faith in the lord or simply a luck of votes.

Somehow along the lines I’ve come here; to New Orleans in the middle of what feels like a war with an enemy that has no face. An enemy that cannot be beaten because it can never die and a world full of chaos where we constantly try to bring order.

My fiancee lives in Canada. She has no idea that I’ve made it in safely unless she’s checked her voicemail. I wish I could tell her that I was alright, I wish I could tell her all will be fine. She can’t call into my phone and she’s currently away from a number I know how to reach. Some future. I guess Gibson is wholly correct when he says that the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

I know my partner would like to know if I feel safe. She’s like to know if I’m worried about my safety or the safety of those around me. I’d like to think that the government is going to keep all of us safe from the so called looters. That the militias and private citizens will keep us safe from whatever government actions might take place. I’d like to think mercenaries working for the government won’t ever come into view and they’ll never have to use deadly force.

I’d like to think that because the government says they’ve dropped the media ban that no one gets harassed or has their equipment destroyed. I’d like to hear that the reports of media personnel being shot was a rumor. I’d like to hear that no one has guns, locked and loaded, pointed at their face again for documenting some objective truth regardless of how terrible it might be.

Ultimately I think media, independent media and even corporate media will keep us all inline, online and connected. We’ll keep ourselves in check when we know the world is watching. If not, the world will be our judge, jury and executioner.

Right now I’m feeling tired, I’m covered in sweat and all I can hear is helicopters, generators and dogs barking. It’s so strange to be able to hear past all of that noise and know that it’s silent in a city that’s dark.

Live interview with BBC Live Five and general update regarding KAMP

Posted in astrodome,fema,housing,houston,Katrina,media,neworleans,radio,supplies by jacob on September 10, 2005 did an interview with me at 20:22 on the status of the Astrodome KAMP radio project.

Just as a quick update, the teams on the ground are still attempting to set up the station. All day radios were handed out to people on the ground at Reliant park. They’re currently working with the FCC to get permission to transmit from the parkinglot outside of the dome.

However, I’ve just been pointed to an article on Yahoo! news that says “Reliant city” is being shut down in 8 days to make way for a sports game. Even if the station does get up and running it’s going to be only for a short time but I think that because of the rush the information will be as needed as ever.

My liveblog with Xeni Jardin translated into spanish

For those interested in Spanish translations of my liveblog with Xeni Jardin these people were kind enough to translate:


Things we would love

Posted in astrodome,fema,housing,houston,JIC,Katrina,media,neworleans,radio,supplies,travel by jacob on September 9, 2005

Joel took the time to write up a useful little post about what we could use.

If you’re in Houston or anywhere along the way to Baton Rouge, please consider yourself the target audience.

I’ll reproduce the important parts here:

Here are the first-run critical supplies that we need most direly:

* Fuel containers. We have not been able to secure them in Houston so far; stores are sold out.
* Bottled Water.
* Non-spoiling food.
* Gasoline.

Those we can use probably as much as you can provide.

As for electronics, we could use:

* Flat-panel monitors.
* Power inverters (cigarette lighter).
* Working UPS units.
* Solar panels.
* EV-DO cards. (Very needed).
* Inmarsat equipment.
* Ethernet routers and switches.
* Wi-fi hardware of all types, including antennas.
* Materials to build antenna and other electrical gear.
* PCMCIA Wi-Fi card.
* Long-haul wireless gear.

If you can provide these things, feel free to call me in the morning (as early as necessary; I’ll wake up). We’re always happy to accept cash donations as well, but the more physical gear you can provide (especially the fuel, food, and water) the more cash we’ll have for travel expenses.

My contact number: (347) 495-0610

Like Joel, I would also like to take the time to thank Will Hawkins for his hardwork at the Astrodome. Will is a badass. He’s helping people connect. Also for the gracious places to stay, Lacy and James you’re awesome. Thank you all.

A full chat log with Ryan Macdonald from Dose

As I espoused in my previous post “Why traditional print media blows” I’d like to continue by adding the actual chatlog.

It took me a few minutes but I was able to salvage the conversation from the two different computers I was using while traveling. I think this has at least a slight bit more merit than what was actually published in Dose today. As you can see, they actually screwed up who was talking in their article and quote things incorrectly with their excessive use of the bold tag. What a total bummer. Here’s the actual chat transcript. Sorry for all the linebreaks, I was using a Treo and multitasking with it is a total pain. I removed the last part of the conversation where I asked them to send me a copy of Dose via postal mail.

Without further delay here is the chat conversation with Dose:

Chat Conversation with AIM buddy: giantflyingcarp (giantflyingcarp)
starting at: 15:24 on 9/8/05
[15:24] giantflyingcarp says:
hi jacob. ryan macdonald from dose in toronto, canada. ronit from our magazine sent you a message re. your photos of the astrodome. i had a few questions, if your game — we’d like to publish a transcript of our chat and maybe your liveblog from inside the astrodome. you game?
[15:24] ioerrortype23 says:
currently typing from my treo650
[15:25] ioerrortype23 says:
Kinda slow but sure
[15:31] ioerrortype23 says:
[15:31] ioerrortype23 says:
You there?
[15:33] giantflyingcarp says:
hey. thanks for responding. where are you right now? still in houston?
[15:33] ioerrortype23 says:
I am currently eating in Houston.
[15:34] giantflyingcarp says:
what’s your deal anyway, jacob? why did you go down to check out the scene after katrina?
[15:36] ioerrortype23 says:
I normally work with NGOs and NP groups.
[15:37] ioerrortype23 says:
I think the thing to do is the right thing
[15:37] giantflyingcarp says:
so you want to help?
[15:37] ioerrortype23 says:
I think its important to contribute in anyway that people can.
[15:38] ioerrortype23 says:
I made some calls when I saw the massive fuck up on the part of my pathetic government..
[15:38] giantflyingcarp says:
what was the most disturbing thing you saw inside the dome? from your blog it sounded pretty dire?
[15:38] ioerrortype23 says:
I said that I’ve got tech skill and photography gear.
[15:39] giantflyingcarp says:
did the authorities try to shut you down?
[15:39] ioerrortype23 says:
Xeni Jardin told me to speak with Joel Johnson, I bought my ticket the next day.
[15:40] ioerrortype23 says:
I should clairify. My liveblog was simply what people were saying to me directly when I asked them where they were from, how they got here and what they wanted the world to know.
[15:40] ioerrortype23 says:
many people are fed, happy and alive.
[15:41] ioerrortype23 says:
There was some serious sadness that the celebs wouldn’t touch the people in the shelter.
[15:41] ioerrortype23 says:
When I would shake their hands, their eyes lit up.
[15:42] giantflyingcarp says:
true enough. i’m not trying to direct you in any way, just get a clear -unfiltered- picture. it’s tough to know what’s real based on the TV images.
[15:42] ioerrortype23 says:
I agree.
[15:42] giantflyingcarp says:
celebs were in the dome?
[15:42] ioerrortype23 says:
Many of the people in the dome said the national guard came in when Bush showed up
[15:42] ioerrortype23 says:
Yes. I posted some photos of Bill Cosby yesterday
[15:43] ioerrortype23 says:
Long shots though, hard to see its him
[15:44] ioerrortype23 says:
He was great. He encouraged people to vote, to feel like they’re worth it to keep living, to know they’re worth more than they might believe.
[15:47] ioerrortype23 says:
Sorry, thrown off again
[15:47] ioerrortype23 says:
I need to step away to eat
[15:47] ioerrortype23 says:
Give me 15 or 20
[15:48] giantflyingcarp says:
k. thx.
[16:16] ioerrortype23 says:
[16:16] ioerrortype23 says:
Sorry about that, thumb typing and eating only work when you feed from a tube.
[16:17] ioerrortype23 says:
What were you asking last?
[16:21] ioerrortype23 says:
Whenever you get back, hit me up
Chat Conversation with AIM buddy: giantflyingcarp (giantflyingcarp)
starting at: 16:23 on 9/8/05
[16:23] giantflyingcarp says:
i wanted to ask about the radio project. you and other bloggers have mentioned the need to get people in the dome fm radios for news. can you explain?
[16:28] ioerrortype23 says:
the press release on my weblog explains that best
[16:28] ioerrortype23 says:
It was a hurdle thrown up by Rita Obey of Harris County.
[16:29] ioerrortype23 says:
we met and exceeded her absolutely absurd needs and we’re still denied as far as I know.
[16:30] giantflyingcarp says:
ok. i’ll check it out. but is the idea simply that people don’t have any news.
[16:31] ioerrortype23 says:
People do not have consistant and reliable info.
[16:31] ioerrortype23 says:
No one takes authority.
[16:32] ioerrortype23 says:
When I tried to find the local onsite FEMA or DHS people, no one was in charge.
[16:32] ioerrortype23 says:
RedCross command in the dome was also of little help.
[16:33] giantflyingcarp says:
that’s really sad. i know you have no way of confirming what people told you about rape, etc. but what’s your gut feeling?
[16:33] ioerrortype23 says:
There is a need to give everyone a source of solid information for food stamp, job, clothing, housing, found/missing people, etc
[16:34] ioerrortype23 says:
that is the purpose of the LPFM
[16:34] ioerrortype23 says:
The main issue is that the FCC permit states that the transmitter must be inside the dome
[16:34] ioerrortype23 says:
That of couse makes Austin Airwaves subject to red tape
[16:35] giantflyingcarp says:
what can people do to help?
[16:35] ioerrortype23 says:
my gut feeling on the rumors is that they have some merit. They came from somewhere.
[16:36] ioerrortype23 says:
One seemed out of this world, the idea that the Army corps engineers blew a levy
[16:37] ioerrortype23 says:
Until you look up history of the Armyy corps doing just that in NOLA in the 20s!
[16:37] giantflyingcarp says:
do any of the people know how long they’re going to be in the dome?
[16:37] ioerrortype23 says: has some links about that on one of his recent posts
[16:38] ioerrortype23 says:
Many people seemed worried because they weren’t sure who could tell them facts.
[16:40] giantflyingcarp says:
very sad. did people give you any hope?
[16:41] ioerrortype23 says:
I’m not trying to paint this as totally without hope.
[16:41] ioerrortype23 says:
People are happy to be alive, some of them just don’t know it yet.
[16:41] ioerrortype23 says:
Just like many have no complaints, they’re not ready to be angry.
[16:42] giantflyingcarp says:
good to know people are still people after all the shit they’ve been thru.
[16:43] ioerrortype23 says:
Its clear in the MSM that people want to dehumanize the survivors.
[16:44] ioerrortype23 says:
That its their fault for staying or for not leaving fast enough.
[16:44] ioerrortype23 says:
These people are sick, old, poor, broken, uninformed.
[16:44] ioerrortype23 says:
And when I say poor, you have no idea
[16:45] ioerrortype23 says:
I read yesterday that people we afraid of getting rescued because they wouldn’t be able to afford tickets to ride!
[16:45] ioerrortype23 says:
To be rescued!
[16:45] ioerrortype23 says:
Unbelievable class seperation
[16:45] ioerrortype23 says:
Massive racism
[16:46] ioerrortype23 says:
No one wants to talk about this.
[16:46] giantflyingcarp says:
the race question got raised briefly in the MSM then died quickly. you think this will haunt bush, change thing?
[16:47] ioerrortype23 says:
It died becuase the media cannot even begin to cover it.
[16:48] ioerrortype23 says:
It’s so sad.
[16:48] ioerrortype23 says:
Will this haunt bush?
[16:48] ioerrortype23 says:
Does that even matter?
[16:49] giantflyingcarp says:
maybe people will start asking the right questions … that’s what i mean.
[16:49] ioerrortype23 says:
what are the right questions?
[16:49] ioerrortype23 says:
I think its about race
[16:49] ioerrortype23 says:
About class
[16:50] giantflyingcarp says:
ya. from an outsider looking in, those seem to be the dominant issues in nearly every big city in america.
(16:50:41) ioerrortype23: Yes.
(16:50:42) ioerrortype23: I agree
(16:50:46) ioerrortype23: Now I’m back at my laptop.
(16:50:53) ioerrortype23: So this should go faster, my thumbs are sore.
(16:51:15) giantflyingcarp: you on blackberry?
(16:51:17) ioerrortype23: The government failed the people.
(16:51:27) ioerrortype23: No I use a Treo650. A total pile of junk, it reboots all the time.
(16:52:38) giantflyingcarp: hey. just wanted to say thanks for letting us use the images, we think they’re important. and thanks for the chat. what’s next for you?
(16:53:06) ioerrortype23: I’m getting a van with Joel and we’re heading into Louisiana with supplies to help out.
(16:53:22) ioerrortype23: People on the ground will work on their radio station and we’ll go where we’re needed.
(16:53:32) giantflyingcarp: can we help in any way?
(16:53:40) ioerrortype23: Absolutely.
(16:53:44) ioerrortype23: Ask the hard questions.
(16:54:12) ioerrortype23: What about race? What about class? What about the government stopping people from leaving? Why didn’t the police save people when they drove by 5 people to a boat in NOLA?
(16:54:31) ioerrortype23: Why does the president have to do photoshoots that stop aid workers from working?
(16:54:40) ioerrortype23: High security photo ops lock down aid centers.
(16:54:51) ioerrortype23: Stop it with the photo ops.
(16:55:17) ioerrortype23: You want a photo op, take a photo of the poor, the homeless, the suffering, the people who have been devastated.
(16:55:34) ioerrortype23: I’m sick of seeing the faces of a bunch of ineffective politicians patting themselves on the back and I know I’m not the only one.
(16:56:05) ioerrortype23: Also
(16:56:29) ioerrortype23: Call and voice your concern over the fact that the Austin Airwaves emergency low power FM station being blocked.
(16:56:38) ioerrortype23: Make the people explain why this is such a big deal to the people involved.
(16:56:51) ioerrortype23: A little bit of googling can go a long way when it comes to phone numbers of people to call.
(16:57:06) ioerrortype23: If you can, come down here and help people out. Or offer to house them.
(16:57:29) ioerrortype23: And for the love of humanity, don’t assume that because these people are poor they’re criminals.
(16:58:01) ioerrortype23: Thanks for the soap box.
(16:58:23) giantflyingcarp: a good note to end on. thx again. we’ll be watching, listening and spreading the word ….
(16:59:16) giantflyingcarp: bye

Why traditional print media blows

You can see an interview as well as some photos relating to the Astrodome in the recent issue of Dose.


Dose cover image

I’d like to take this time to address how traditional print media can be a disaster. These people interviewed me for quite some time on aim today while I was driving with Joel. Of all the things I said in the interview, the things that made it into the print magazine are basically trivial. It’s worthless. While they printed the wrong url for my blog, they did get one that worked but only because photomatt is such a foreward thinking fellow in how he runs dns. I’m frustrated that I used my treo to talk to them as it’s a pain to get the chat log off. In addition, they actually published something on their website about the conversation and they didn’t include the full log! I mean if it was space constraints that would be one thing but people, don’t you do this for a living? I’m going to give it a shot and hope that I can post the actual conversation as it had some merit. This however has basically no merit.

Don’t talk to the Dose people unless you’re willing to be misrepresented.

Update: I’ve posted the full chatlog here

Inside the Astrodome

Posted in astrodome,houston,Katrina,media,photos by jacob on September 9, 2005

Astrodome and beyond

Next Page »