Responding to disaster

Dina Mehta, a contributer to Global Voices and  a proponent of ethical uses of social software, was instrumental using her contacts in the blogosphere to help the victims of the tsunami of early 2005.  She helped set up a blog that those in need of help and those offering help good go to, and, when that became too big, she archived the information in a wiki.  Millions of people showed up at the site, and Google had to come to the rescue with more bandwidth.
Now, she alerts us to various efforts in the blogosphere to help victims of the recent quake in Java.  One man named Angelo set up the Java Quake Help Wiki.  In an ail to Dina, he said:

The wiki has the basic design and structure in place but we URGENTLY NEED online volunteers to help us out with the wiki in terms of the following tasks:

1. Move relevant content from tsunamihelp (tsunamihelp.info & quakehelp.asiaquake.org)

2. Scrape info from the blogs covering the quake on technorati

3.  Post translations from helpjogja.net blog to the wiki (via Andy Carvin’s link: toggletext.com)

4. Rove irrelevant info

5. Add static info on the main page

6. Spread the word out about the wiki

I’m so impressed with how quickly these folks have mobilized, and how they take for granted the capabilities of the technologies they’re using.  They don’t have to argue (as I, in a balanced way, often do) about the utility of wikis; they’re example proves it.  For me, this kind of disaster response is one of the clearest examples of how, hopefully, we’re moving to a new level of understanding concerning social media.  Rather than constantly having to convince ourselves and others of the wiki’s usefulness, or the social potential of social networking, we can assume it and move on to the important work these things are supposed to enable.

P.S. These are other useful links provided by Dina:

Global Voices Online tells us of a special blog set up by an Indonesian University, providing complete information services on Earthquake relief.

Indonesia Help is an English Language blog with a great set of resources and regular updates on the Earthquake in Yogyakarta.  Do check it out if you’re interested in helping.

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