Blogging a tsunami
Web logs aid disaster recovery
By Clark Boyd
Some of the most vivid descriptions of the devastation in southern Asia are on the internet - in the form of web logs or blogs.
Bloggers have been offering snapshots of information from around the region and are also providing some useful information for those who want to help.
Indian writer Rohit Gupta edits a group blog called Dogs without Borders.
When he created it, the site was supposed to be a forum to discuss relations between India and Pakistan.
But in the wake of Sunday's tsunami, Mr Gupta and his fellow bloggers switched gears.
They wanted to blog the tsunami and its aftermath.
One Sri Lankan blogger in the group goes by the online name Morquendi.
With internet service disrupted by the tsunami, Morquendi started sending SMS text messages via cell phone from the affected areas of Sri Lanka.
"We started publishing these SMSes," says Mr Gupta.
"Morquendi was describing scenes like 1,600 bodies washed up on a shore, and people burying, and burying and burying them. People digging holes with their hands. And this was coming through an SMS message.
"We didn't have visual accounts on radio or on TV, or in the print media."
Soon, thousands of web users around the world were logging on to read Morquendi's first hand accounts.
In one message, Morquendi wrote about a Sri Lankan woman who was running home with a friend when the wave hit.
"She was being swept away," Morquendi's message read. "She grabbed a tree with one hand and her friend with the other. She says she watched the water pull her friend away."
Mr Gupta says the power of Morquendi's text message blogs was palpable.
"He was running around, looking for friends, burying bodies, carrying bodies," Mr Gupta says of Morquendi.
"I can't even begin to imagine the psychological state he was in when he was sending us reports, and doing the relief work at the same time.
"He was caught between being a journalist and being a human being."
In one of his latest posts, Heretic asks: "Have you ever seen fishing trawlers on the road? Ever seen a bus inside a house?
"Well," Heretic writes, "that was just the least affected areas - so you can just imagine - or can you?"
He concludes: "Keep it blogged."
posted by Steve @ 1:03:00 AM