Geeks Fill the Info Gaps in Disaster Response

I came across a great post from October by veteran Web developer Nate Ritter, who wrote about how Twitter feeds and other social media tools really helped out in the wildfires around San Diego. Here’s a taste, but read the whole thing:

Even though I was aggregating two TV channels, a radio station, a local newspaper, friends and even strangers’ eyewitness reports via a free phone number, email, the contact form on this blog, SMS, phone calls and other twitter feeds, it wasn’t enough. For three days straight I’ve been pushing this content out. It was a one-man communication station. And although it was helpful for many people (both locally and internationally), I am very glad the worst has come and gone — not only because of the disaster, but because I don’t know that I could continue. It’s been extremely tiring.

As we’re learning that mainstream media is unable to keep up with the demand necessary to distribute information, for whatever reasons, there is a major opportunity for us, the normal every day “Joe’s” to make a major difference.

In working on the CauseWired project, I’m taking an in-depth look at the online response to Hurricane Katrina in and around New Orleans – a response, by the way, that continues to this day. If you have any stories like Nate’s about how the digital network helps in responding when big-time trouble strikes, please let me know in comments. I’m looking for compelling first-person stories. [Hat tip: Beth Kanter at NetSquared]



  nate ritter wrote @

Thanks for the link and note Tom. I appreciate the (at least verbal) response to what I think is a lot of people’s desires to see citizen journalism take on a new life.

We simply need a little more organization which requires probably only one tool to do that well.

Let me know if I can help in any way in the future.


[…] The biggest story in that chapter covers the wildfires in southern California last year and the work of blogger Nate Ritter in spreading good information in a time of public uncertainty and no small amount of panic. […]

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