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Web Waves: Tsunami Blogs Respond to Disasters

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Web Waves: Tsunami Blogs Respond to Disasters

Article excerpt

At 7:58:53 a.m. local time on Dec. 26, 2004, approximately 100 miles off Banda Aceh on the island Sumatra, Indonesia, the largest earthquake since 1964 (in Prince William Sound) occurred, registering 9.0 on the Richter scale. The earthquake was the result of the India tectonic plate sliding under the Burma tectonic plate. The resultant tsunami, one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history, is estimated, by the U.S. Geological Survey, to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima type atomic bombs. The result of that force hit the shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka Thailand, India, and Africa with a sequence of waves moving at speeds of up to 500 miles per hour.

The tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, has become another defining moment in the evolution and use of blogs. These distributed, interactive resources rallied around the disaster in ways that allowed readers to learn of the disaster, find ways to help through direct donations or volunteer opportunities, and cope with the grief that such an event inevitably brings.

Moving from personal, journal-style entries, blogs have addressed politics, war reportage, and, now, humanitarian aid efforts. Their power to reach vast numbers of people quickly with eye-witness reportage, graphics, opinion, and collections of news articles, and their ability to side-step government and corporate control have made blogs powerful forums for sharing information. The current manifestation of tsunami-related blogs are another step along a road that continually sees blogs creatively reacting to world events and gaining in popularity, respect, and impact.

New blogs, such as The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog [http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/] and Tsunami Disaster in Malaysia and Thailand [http://tsunamipenang.blogspot.com/] were set up immediately following the tsunami as resources for people to make direct-aid donations, learn of the tsunami's effects, assist in finding missing persons, and assist in public health and communication issues. Blogs such as world-changing [http://www.worldchanging.com/] provided links to these and other disaster-relief-related blogs. The snowball effect of linkage and creation continued until a whole new category of blogs emerged. Within days of the disaster, Yahoo.com created a directory listing for Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami Blogs [http://dir.yahoo.com/Science/ Earth_Sciences/Geology_and_Geophysics/Seismology/H istoric_Earthquakes/ Indian_Ocean_December_26_2004/Blogs/].

These blogs, focused and created around a single event, are examples of how people from around the world are keeping one another informed and at the same time reaching out a helping hand. Representing a new form of activism, the blogs demonstrate a way to organize information and aid in times of need.

The following blogs are categorized by format and geography.

Video Blogs

The tsunami led to a quantum leap for video blogging (or vlogging). Previous to this, the use of video blogging was sporadic and fairly mundane, with highlights being a clip of Ashlee Simpson caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live and Jon Stuart on Crossfire. Sharing video clips (and graphics and newsfeed) on blogs seems to proceed without a great deal of regard for copyright.

The Indian Ocean tsunami was captured on video by professional and amateur alike, using traditional video cameras, digital cameras, and even cell phones. Often extremely graphic and even horrific due to their unedited amateur quality, these videos can also reflect the human tragedy better than processed news reports.

WaveofDestruction.org seems to have emerged as the central repository for tsunami disaster photos and videos, currently hosting over 50 videos shot over the entire affected region. An unannotated list of video links in .wmv format is available at http://www.waveofdestruction.org/videos/.

Of the six videos hosted at Waxy. …

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