As many observers of social media, citizen journalism, and participatory culture have noted, the news cycle ain't what it used to be. We no longer experience stories in simple once-a-day packages read in reassuring Cronkite tones by the evening news anchor. Instead, through the miracles of constant connectedness, mobile devices, and social media platforms like Facebook
, we experience news of the world as a stream---fluid, swift, and dynamic. And, sometimes, the stream flows in both directions.
The Honshu earthquake and tsunami reminds us of this new reality. And the mushrooming of online resources about the event---photos, first-person accounts, maps, graphics, and more---shows in compelling fashion how a collective, creative, crowdsourced approach can generate high-quality, reliable information and coordination of volunteer efforts. Some examples:
is an informal global network of development and crisis response volunteers and activists. Participants use technology tools to find innovative approaches to providing disaster aid and crisis response. In response to the Honshu event, Crisis Commons volunteers created a wiki page that serves as a real-time, continually-updated clearinghouse of information about the disaster and response, including
- aggregations of information from official government agency sites (including Japan, Russia, New Zealand, the US, and the UN)
- live video feeds from numerous news sources
- directories of active Twitter users and trending hashtags
- links to meteorolgical maps, advisories, and warnings
- response bulletins from the Red Cross and US Department of Defense
Updates to the wiki page come fast and furious. At 4:06 pm CST, a glance at the page's revision history tells the tale: the most recent update was completed just two minutes earlier.
The site also includes an embeddable People Finder widget.
Larry Ferlazzo, an ELL teacher from California, regularly compiles "best websites" lists dedicated to teaching and learning resources. Today's dauntingly exhaustive list
compiles sites for learning about the Japan quake and tsunami.
This is just a sampling of the information that has been created, compiled, aggregated, and sorted by people all over the world in just a few hours. After the tsunami, a tsunami of information.
How can an event like the tsunami, and its accompanying range of responses, serve as a teachable moment with students?