Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Tsunami

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
The tsunami was an horrific natural event, which reminds us how much we really don't know the planet we call home. I can't think of anything more to say about the event itself, save to say I feel for all those who've lost loved ones, and for those (often already relatively poor) countries who will now struggle more than before.

However, from a media perspective, the reporting surrounding the tsunami and its ongoing aftermath has been significant in showing the emerging shape of citizen journalism across the globe. One of the most immediate sources of information regarding the personal tragedies caused by the tsunami has been the blogosphere. So much so, in fact, that The New York Times ran an article on blogging the tsunami:
For vivid reporting from the enormous zone of tsunami disaster, it was hard to beat the blogs. The so-called blogosphere, with its personal journals published on the Web, has become best known as a forum for bruising political discussion and media criticism. But the technology proved a ready medium for instant news of the tsunami disaster and for collaboration over ways to help. There was the simple photo of a startlingly blue boat smashed against a beachside palm in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, at www.thiswayplease.com/extra.html. "Every house and fishing boat has been smashed, the entire length of the east coast," wrote Fred Robart, who posted the photo. "People who know and respect the sea well now talk of it in shock, dismay and fear." At sumankumar.com, Nanda Kishore, a contributor, offered photos and commentary from Chennai, India: "Some drenched till their hips, some till their chest, some all over and some of them were so drenched that they had already stopped breathing. Men and women, old and young, all were running for lives. It was a horrible site to see. The relief workers could not attend to all the dead and all the alive. The dead were dropped and the half alive were carried to safety." [...] Bloggers at the scene are more deeply affected by events than the journalists who roam from one disaster to another, said Xeni Jardin, one of the four co-editors of the site BoingBoing.net, which pointed visitors to many of the disaster blogs. "They are helping us understand the impact of this event in a way that other media just can't," with an intimate voice and an unvarnished perspective, with the richness of local context, Ms. Jardin said. That makes blogs compelling - and now essential - reading, said Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan, an assistant professor of culture and communication at New York University and a blogger. Once he heard about the disaster, "Right after BBC, I went to blogs," he said.
Indeed, Boing Boing's coverage of the responses to the tsunami point both to the many blogs in the region which provided (and continue to provide) first-hand accounts of the tsunami and its aftermath, including uses of other mobile media such as SMS. On the visual front, the most raw, telling and terrifying video came from holiday makers who suddenly found themselves filming a disaster, and some of the most gripping video is being hosted at Waxy.org.

Now that information about the tsunami has been collated and sorted, another telling instance of participatory media is the amazingly organised reportage at the Wikipedia. Their entries on the tsunami disaster are by far the most organised and detailed I've seen anywhere online, and included some very useful animations to aid in explaining the impact of the tidal waves.

And if you're looking to help out, you might want to visit The South East Asian-Earthquake And Tsunami: News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts.

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