Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Covering the destruction

Tim Blair has done a great job of pulling together the latest updates on the killer tsunamis that have devastated the Indian rim. He's been on it since the story broke. IMO, it's an example of blogging at its best.

The nature of this story doesn't lend itself to bloggers as newsbreakers. But alert bloggers, like Blair, can aggregate stories and photos and point readers to more remote web sources.

Wikipedia also has comprehensive coverage.

There's some chilling amateur video here.

Not surprisingly, though, there isn't much in the way of live blog reports from the scene. Blogger Dare Obasanjo criticised Robert Scoble for questioning this lack of live blogging when the disaster was unfolding.

But the New York Times sees it differently:

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.

[...] Howard Rheingold, the author of "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution," about the use of interactive technologies like text-messaging to build ad hoc coalitions, said that using blogs to muster support for aid was a natural next step. "If you can smartmob a political demonstration, an election or urban performance art, you can smartmob disaster relief," he said.

One veteran of the online medium said he was initially "a little disappointed" in the reports he got from the blogs. Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future in California, said that with the widespread use of digital cameras and high-speed digital access, he was expecting to see more raw video and analysis.

He said that upon reflection he realized that it was difficult to get information out of hard-hit areas and that putting digital video online is still the domain of "deep geeks" with significant resources. "This brought home to me just how far we have to go," he said.
For my money the wires and various foreign bureaux led the running. Media organisations have encouraged firsthand reader feedback via email on their websites, but you can expect blogs to kick up a gear when more witnesses get safe and get online access.

The occasional exceptions are photo blogs. The Age used pics from here on the front page today.

Ocean swells along the flooded coast of Kalutara, Sri Lanka in a satellite image taken shortly after the area was hit. Photo: Reuters

No comments: