This Guy Became An Expert On Syrian Arms Trafficking, Just By Watching YouTube
Last October, Eliot Higgins, a 34-year-old resident of Leicester, England, lost his job. With time to waste, he turned to YouTube. Now, he’s one of the world’s foremost experts on the flow of illegal weapons into war-torn Syria. Huh?
Higgins’s unlikely story was covered recently in the Guardian. “Before the Arab spring I knew no more about weapons than the average Xbox owner,” he told the paper.
Now, thanks to a steady stream of videos that have leaked out of the country and onto the web, he knows more than just about anyone without a security clearance, keeping a blog under the alias Brown Moses that has served as a vital resource for reporters and human rights activists alike.
The idea of an armchair weapons expert is an incredible one, but it’s the type of thing that will only become more common in the future. With the decline of print media, newsroom staffs are leaner than ever. Add a deluge of crowdsourced reporting, and it’s not surprising that there’s important stuff out there waiting to be processed—be it YouTube videos of trafficked weapons or secret bases on Bing Maps.
What do you think of the idea of an ‘armchair weapons expert’?
Who needs college?