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The Internet has changed us profoundly, from how we seek information to how we react in times of tragedy.
The Internet has changed us. It has changed how and where we access information and the sheer variety of it.
The first significant use of social media and the Internet during a crisis was during the Mumbai bombings in November 2008. People in the middle of the fray sent in frantic Twitter updates via their mobiles, Flickr became a destination for firsthand photo accounts of the destruction and chaos, and users marked locations of reported bombings on an interactive and collaborative Google Map. First-person accounts are given equal attention with a popular news outlet because they give us access to information quickly and we accept its rawness because we hunger for the content.
Now with the Haiti earthquake, we are ready. When misfortune falls, interested parties can watch news scroll in from all over the world (Google “Haiti earthquake” to get a live action example in the search results), they can sign up to receive immediate updates via email or on their mobile, or elect to follow a special Twitter list with updates set up by NPR or the Huffington Post. They can consult a number of news websites, watch the Wikipedia entry get updated as new stories come in and are added to the panorama, or they can look for videos being uploaded to YouTube by survivors.
The Internet has changed us. It has changed the way we filter and trust information.
When television was the primary source of news information we placed a high level of trust in those few channels, the stories they selected and the sources they consulted. Many eyeballs were watching, questioning, and in many cases, contesting the accuracy of those stories.
Now, instead of waiting passively for the television to give us the answer, now we are hunters. We hunt for information, with a voracious appetite for recent and up-to-date information.
The Internet has given us access to such a wide breadth of information and from such a variety of sources that inevitably fewer eyeballs are looking at exactly the same information at the same time. More likely, we are consulting similar information from a variety of sources, and assembling our own panorama from sources we personally know and trust.
Fewer questions are being asked in some cases exactly because we have so many other choices, and some news are therefore never contested. We have to have better judgment when reading through eyewitness accounts, when considering points of view on a news story or when looking for the “truth.”
The Internet has changed us. It has changed how we react.
We are no longer observers. Now we are participants.
Within hours of the earthquake in Haiti, Twitter and Facebook was abuzz with news of the earthquake, and people immediately started asking “How can we help?”
The answer came quickly and strongly: in many ways! Websites, Facebook groups, mobile phones and even iTunes were put to use immediately to collect aid money, to spread the word amongst social groups, and to provide accurate information about how individuals could help and what exactly they would be supporting.
How will you react to Haiti?
|Milan, 18. January 2010
Charity | Facebook | giving | Haiti | Internet | social media | tragedy | Twitter | Youtube
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