“One morning, after the dissolution of the student protests on Maidan, we woke up in another country,” said Pavlo Pedenko, one of the creators of Maidan Chronicles, as he explained the pretext of the idea to build a platform that preserves and gathers all the data from social media related to the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine.
The night of 30 November 2013 marked the dawn of a dark date in modern Ukrainian history. The unprecedented massive demonstration in support of a pro-EU path for Ukraine completely changed its rhetoric towards the fight against the regime of President Yanukovych, now claiming for his resignation. On that night, riot police forces violently mopped away the students’ camp on the main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). The next morning people flocked to the streets to express their despair and anger regarding the crimes committed against their children and the overall corrupt and spoiled political and social system.
A screenshot of Maidanchronicles.com
In Ukraine, similarly to in other countries experiencing socio-political changes, social media plays a prominent role in mobilizing and informing people about the latest news and updates related to the protests. Aiming “to collect and preserve the history of the revolution,” Maidan Chronicles shows in one big picture the way people on the streets think, comment and reflect on the protests as expressed in their social media profiles.
Maidan Chronicles is a unique platform, though the idea of collecting data from social media is not new. Using the basics of existing technology, the creators completed the idea of data collection and made it interesting for users, featuring the hot topic of the recent Ukrainian protests. The development of the platform moved quickly. Initially hosting several hundred online visitors per day, the platform now comes up with several hundred users per minute. The positive response encouraged them to recently launch their second project to gather data about the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Pedenko admits that half of Maidan Chronicles’ success was the true belief in the importance of the project, which “gave strength to stay awake at night and run in a very short time.”
“We were making a project for our enjoyment, and not for a customer’s order, or working for a funding grant. We were working on an idea we considered important, and to be honest, we even didn’t think about SMART goals in the beginning. We wanted to create a stable system of sampling and ranking data from social media networks to save the history of the protests. In fact, we have created http://digdatahq.com/, a product that consistently works and solves this problem. Maidan Chronicles is based on it,” said Pedenko.
Technically, the content for the website is sifted through the keywords and processed by the digdatahq.com (DigData) system created specifically for Maidan Chronicles. DigData gathers all the references on the Internet, ranks them according to the numbers of social interactions with the content, and publishes the final material depending on the interest of the user. For example, among all the latest updates presented on the webpage, the user can choose the date and type of social media he or she would like to display. Maidan Chronicles includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and VKontakte. A history of events is gathered automatically by the open social media API (set of procedures that specifies how software components interact with each other). To date, more than 1.6 million references to revolutionary events are archived on the website.
The only section of Maidan Chronicles that requires moderation by volunteers is the history of the victims. This section provides information about 291 protesters who were arrested, beaten or tortured, or who suffered from riot police actions. Site users can see names of those victims, a brief synopsis of the case, and the phone numbers of the contact persons in case they would like to help the victims. The information about the victims updates consistently.
The Maidan revolution has become a defining moment in Ukrainian history. So to reveal unexpected or surprising angles of the protest’s history, you can start digging into the social media. Maidan Chronicles will help with that, for sure.
Front page photo by mac_ivan/Flickr