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Sept 2, 2005: International Blogging for Disaster Relief Day

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  • Andy Carvin
    Late last night, tossing and turning in bed, images of Hurricane Katrina coverage echoed in my mind. I started thinking about how the online community has
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2005
      Late last night, tossing and turning in bed, images of Hurricane Katrina
      coverage echoed in my mind. I started thinking about how the online
      community has responded to the hurricane. Many people are truly doing
      yeoman's work, working around the clock to help cover the hurricane and
      disseminate resources. The coverage on Wikipedia has been extraordinary,
      as has been the case on Nola.com. Craigslist and NowPublic have
      certainly stepped up to the plate; even the amazing team from the
      TsunamiHelp blog, halfway around the world, have done their part by
      creating a KatrinaHelp wiki. Their generosity humbles me.

      And yet as I think about all the work that's been done, I'm somewhat
      surprised that we haven't seen the Katrina equivalent of TsunamiHelp
      rise to the top. For those of you who may not remember, bloggers from
      around the world formed an alliance to publish an international blog and
      clearinghouse of tsunami-related information. Far and away, it was the
      best resource out there as the horror of the tsunami unfolded. (Full
      disclosure - I was a contributing blogger on the site, but I joined
      rather late. All the credit goes to them.)

      Why haven't we see a Katrina-related blog of TsunamiHelp-like
      proportions? You would think that the US, the birthplace of blogging,
      would have been able to catalyze a who's who of bloggers to coordinate
      information sharing, just as TsunamiHelp did. Instead, we've seen a
      scattering of blogs pop up here and there, doing their best to share
      information. But it's distributed and dispersed, with no coordination
      between them.

      Meanwhile, I've also noticed that many blogs have gone on with their
      daily lives as if Katrina never happened. Sure, they may have mentioned
      it once or twice, but have they posted any Katrina resources? Have they
      linked to the Red Cross? Have they encouraged people to donate blood?
      Some, yes. Most, no. Anti-Bush blogs continue to bash Bush, while
      pro-Bush blogs continue to praise him. Travel blogs continue to talk
      about travel. Tech blogs talk tech, pet blogs talk pets. Can't we all
      just take a break and focus on helping disaster victims for just a moment?

      We now live in an age of tagging, RSS and distributed computing. Perhaps
      we don't need to have all of these great bloggers posting to one site,
      or have bloggers focused full-time on the disaster. All we really need
      is to get as many people as possible using the blogging tools available
      of them, posting whatever Katrina-related information they're
      comfortable with, then use tags and RSS feeds to bring it all together.

      Therefore, I'd like to unilaterally declare tomorrow, Friday September
      2, as International Blogging for Disaster Relief Day.

      If you have a blog, here's what you can do. Sometime tomorrow, take a
      break from whatever it is you usually blog about, and post something
      constructive related to disaster relief. You can keep it topical to your
      blog: for example, if you usually blog about pets, blog about Noah's
      Wish or another entity working to rescue and reunite hurricane-affected
      pets with their families. Or, you can just dedicate blog space to
      listing websites where people can donate money (maybe even challenge
      people to match your donation), or share a story of a hurricane
      survivor. This goes for photo bloggers, podcasters and video bloggers as
      well - there's no reason why this should be text-only.

      For those of you outside of the US, you could post about a disaster
      relevant to your community. Post lists of supplies needed for victims of
      yesterday's stampede in Baghdad. Post an update on how your family is
      recovering from the tsunami. Post multi-lingual resources for African
      families in Paris displaced by the recent apartment fires. Blog about
      whatever you choose, as long as it supports some kind of disaster
      assistance in a constructive way.

      One thing I'd discourage you from doing, though, is making this
      political. There will be plenty of time for recriminations about who's
      to blame, if anyone, for Katrina, and the political ramifications. No
      doubt this will be a major topic of conversation in the blogosphere, but
      it can wait. People need help now.

      When you've posted to your blog, be sure to include a link to this
      Technorati tag:


      That way, when people follow that link, they'll be able to find a
      collection of all relevant postings published throughout the
      blogosphere. There will also be an RSS feed on that page, which can be
      used to aggregate all of the postings and display them on a single
      webpage. I plan to aggregate them on my Katrina Aftermath blog
      (http://katrina05.blogspot.com). You can do the same. (Later, I'll post
      a javascript to make it easy for anyone to do this - more soon.) One
      collection of disaster relief resources, countless bloggers. That's the
      power of the blogosphere.

      So please join me tomorrow and participate in International Blogging for
      Disaster Relief Day. Take a break from whatever it is you normally blog
      about - even if it's just for one post - and give back to the Net. -andy

      Andy Carvin
      Program Director
      EDC Center for Media & Community
      acarvin @ edc . org
      Blog: http://www.andycarvin.com
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