Residentie Eliot Higgins (Bellingcat)

  • DateFri. 26 Oct - Sun. 28 Oct. 2018
  • WithCentre for the Humanities, DUIC, Fontys Hogeschool Journalistiek, Het Huis Utrecht, HKU, Hogeschool Utrecht, IMC Weekend School, Impakt festival


Eliot Higgins:

‘I’m really looking forward to the future collaborations we’ve planned, the idea with workshops for local people from a variety of backgrounds leading to investigations is very exciting for me.’

In collaboration with ImpaktEliot Higgins is coming to Utrecht. Eliot is the founder of online open source investigative collective Bellingcat, a network that practices citizen journalism, fact-checking and online research. Through the use of online techniques such as geolocation, Higgins proved the use of chemical weapons in Syria. With Bellingcat, which he founded in 2014, he showed that every citizen can contribute to truth-finding and fact-checking with simple software and freely available sources. Bellingcat became well-know for its research on MH17.

Higgins visit to the Netherlands has as a purpose to spread the news of open source investigation, but he also asks the Utrecht network to help him with ethical questions. If you can find out exactly who are behind actions in the war in Syria, what the exact route was of the BUK rocket that took down MH17 and who are the soldiers that drove that rocket, should you make that information public? Even when it will influence world conflicts? How does that impact a person? And should younger children come into contact with this method? These are the ethical decisions that the Utrecht partners want to think about and discuss with Eliot Higgins. Artists will be linked to Higgins en his method. What will they do with his method and its results? And how can the Bellingcat Method be used to investigate local issues? With several educational organizations, opportunities will be explored to implement the Bellingcat Method in their curricula.

Eliot Higgins was in Utrecht from October 26 until October 28. On Saturday October 27, he gave an introduction to the Bellingcat method during the Impakt Festival in Het Huis Utrecht. He gave examples of cases in which Bellingcat was able to unearth important information through geolocation and,analysing videos and social media. As such, he did not only give insight in the determination which drives Bellingcat, but he also showed that it is possible for every citizen to help with thruth-finding and fact-checking. You can watch his lecture here:

November 13-15, 2018

Later, in a three-day workshop organised by Residenties in Utrecht in collaboration with Impakt, professionals and students learned the skills required to verify videos and images, investigate social media, and perform their own investigations. Day one of the course involved hands on exercises and case studies focused on growing the participants understanding of a range of open source investigation tools and techniques. On day two, they applied the acquired skills on complex group projects, and learned more about Bellingcat’s MH17 investigation. Day three focused on investigating social media, including various techniques to investigate individuals on a range of social media platforms, and methods for extracting additional information from those platforms beyond what is immediately apparent.

Impakt presents critical and creative views on contemporary media culture and on innovative audio-visual arts in an interdisciplinary context. Yearly, they organise the Impakt Festival, a five-day multimedia event that includes exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, panels, performances, presentations, and artist talks at locations in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Ook gedurende de rest van het jaar organiseert Impakt activiteiten. Furthermore, Impakt organises activities throughout the year.