As news of yesterday’s bombings in London came through, the BBC News website slowly ground to a halt as millions of people logged on to see what was happening. I decided to follow the events through the day via the blogging community, and it gave a great ‘bottom-up’ view of the happenings, often half an hour before information filtered onto the mainstream websites.
Binary Bonsai, blog of Michael Heilemann (designer of the Kubrick theme for WordPress), put out a posting soon after the events, and the comments that followed his post contained links to other blogs which were chronicling events as they happened, mainly from people who worked near the areas affected. One blog of note is that by Fink, who posted pictures, and talked about the general mood in the city. Michael even offered to help people contact friends or relatives, and I tip my hat to him for offering his help to people. It’s nice to see a bit of community out there in the blogosphere, especially in times of crisis that that.
I also followed events via Wikinews, sister project of the Wikipedia, where people were creating, editing and uploading pictures. I am not normally one to follow these things obsessively, but the phenomenon of personal publishing on blogs, and collaborative news gives a whole different slant to that of the edited mass media.
Photobloggers, such as those who use Flikr were uploading photos from cameraphones almost instantly, some as people were being evacuated, tagging them with the word ‘bomb‘, showing the world what had happened.
Some have argued that by creating mass publicity across the internet, we have played into the hands of the terrorists. I disagree for a number of reasons, not least that people have a right to find out, from the shop floor what has happened, when and where. Many of us have friends and family in London, and I for one needed to find out which areas had been affected, since mobile networks were busy to say the least, and it was difficult to get through to people to check they were OK. Knowing your friends live, work, and travel away from the bombed areas can be temporary relief until you hear from them.
The social phenomenon of web publishing through blogs and Wikis is a powerful one indeed, and I would like to thank those who helped to keep the world informed during the day of the London bombs on Thursday 9th July.