A late new year’s chronicle
By: Jon Brunberg | posted: 2/17/2015 3:12:40 PM
Even though the new year is well under way, it’s never too late to take a look in the rear mirror on last years events, and especially since 2014 was a remarkable year in many ways - not all of them good, however.
The number of fatalities because of the war in Syria escalated alarmingly and several other armed conflicts intensified during the year. This was the year when the offensive of IS (or ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, whichever you prefer) was making headlines all over a world shocked by it’s brutality while their swift advance profoundly shook up the power balance in the Middle East. This was the year when Ukraine faced a protracted war with unpredictable consequences for the relations between Russia and the West, a year when thousands died in the Gaza Strip in a bloody war between Israel and Palestinians, all while continued fighting raged on in Libya, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and South Sudan.
2014 was also the year of centennial commemorations of the outbreak of the first World War and the millions who perished in it, and many would turn to this website to learn more of the wars of our time and to use their findings in various ways. Just in time for Remembrance Day in the UK, the graphic designer Valentina D’Efilippo and the programmer Nicolas Pigelet released a beautiful interactive data visualization based on the List of wars since 1900, which got a great deal of attention. Another example was The Woodstock Methodist Church in Oxford that found a creative way to use the list in a commemorative exhibition.
More people than ever visit these pages to find information about wars and memorials (the number of unique visits increased with 150% compared to the year before), and some also re-publish their findings in other contexts. This interest has compelled me to be more careful than ever in my approach to the conflict data I use, and to at least try to arrive at a point where numbers and definitions are as coherent and compatible as possible (see FAQ). The decision to use data from a few sources with an outstanding scientific reputation comes with a cost and I’m well aware of the significant gaps in the data regarding for example acts of genocide or excess deaths. I hope that 2015 will be the year when I will be able to fill some of those gaps. The extensive update of the databases and war articles during autumn 2014 convinced me nevertheless that I’m on the right path.
Because of other commitments I had to scale back my work on the design for the Polynational War Memorial last year but I plan to resume it later this year. This project has not been funded over the last five or so years which is quite unsustainable and I therefore decided to (again) have ads on some of these pages, even though they produce merely a trickle. I owe a special thanks to the website 21st Century Asian Arms Race for offering me a free, long-term, ad spot. If you find the information I provide useful, please consider a donation using the PayPal button on the start page. I would finally like to thank everyone that visited this site in 2014 and I hope that you’ll continue to return for more information and to follow the developments of the project.