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South Asia: Response of online communities to the Earthquake

The year 2004 ended with a very solemn reminder of the absolute devastation a natural disaster could cause. The Indian Ocean Tsunami killed approximately 275,000 people, and left many more devastated.

Even hours after the tragedy, very little information was available on Main Stream Media (MSM). Some bloggers set up a blog (The Sea Eat Blog) on a free blogging site, and started collating information about the tragedy, the relief measures and the responses of the international community. At one point blogs like Chiens Sans Frontiers, started publishing uncensored text messages from those who were at the very site of the tragedy. When the blog became too unwieldy, a wiki was set up. The blog and the wiki was kept alive with numerous volunteers sitting day and night to collate and disseminate information. Efforts such as these brought the attention of MSM to bloggers and their response to a disaster. Valuable lessons were learnt, and a lot of insight was shared. Online communities responded to Hurricane Katrina in a way that was perhaps unimaginable without the technology and the medium that enabled people to collaborate over projects.

The Earthquake in South Asia has prompted a similar response. Some of the notable blogs that have been covering the Earthquake are Metroblogging Lahore, Pakistan Earthquake 2005 and South Asia Quake Help. These blogs have information on the tragedy, accessing help, donations and aid organisations. As a response to disasters, such projects have become not only alternate sources of information, but credible points of information exchange.

On another note, organisations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have raised an appeal for donations.

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