Since their humble beginnings at the turn of the 20th century, unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, have evolved into sophisticated combat aircraft. Some, such as the U.S. Air Force’s Predator, can be equipped with missiles and have been used to carry out lethal attacks around the world.
Despite the fact that drones are controlled directly by a pilot, the remote, semi-robotic nature of the strikes gives the sense that they are a different beast than those coming from a human-piloted airplane. According to writer and developer James Bridle, says The Verge, “the true power of drones is their role as a ‘distancing technology’ which further abstracts a disengaged populace from acts of state-funded aggression.”
To combat this perception of remoteness, Bridle launched an Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter feed known as “Dronestagram.” On his feed, Bridle posts satellite photos of some of the places hit by drone strikes, along with a short description of what you’re looking at. The information on the strikes comes from the reports of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
7th November: a strike at night in a village 40km from Sana’a. Alleged al Qaeda leade @ Beyt al-Ahmar, Yemen instagr.am/p/RxogGfrB_t/
— dronestagram (@dronestagram) November 8, 2012
According to the Daily Mail, the Bureau “compiles reports from Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia and, as well as providing the satellite image, Dronestagram augments these with a variety of sources to offer more background on the targets hit.”
The American military has launched 333 drone strikes this year in Afghanistan. That’s not only the highest total ever, according to U.S. Air Force statistics. It’s essentially the same number of robotic attacks in Pakistan since the CIA-led campaign there began nearly eight years ago. In the last 30 days, there have been three reported strikes in Yemen. In Afghanistan, that’s just an average day’s worth of remotely piloted attacks. And the increased strikes come as the rest of the war in Afghanistan is slowing down.
Since its inception three weeks ago Bridle has so far posted six photos.