The Internet and the Earthquake
Imagine this happening in 1990. Local TV and radio would be all people in Japan would have, maybe satellite TV. Imagine phone lines being even more overloaded than they are now, and cell phones not even an option except for those most on the cutting edge, and probably those wouldn’t work, either. Probably most of Japan would be dark as far as communication is concerned. In the current crisis, the people of Japan are probably getting an appreciation for the Internet that people in African and Middle Eastern countries have recently had.
Right after the quake, when phones were not working, the Internet never missed a beat. Within minutes of the quake, I was accessing Google News via the 3G connection on my iPhone, even before the first stories hit the web. People have been able to email pretty much solidly since the quake hit. People have connected over Facebook and kept each other informed over Twitter. Blogs have chronicled life after the quake. innumerable cell phones equipped with hi-def video cameras caught hundreds if not thousands of views of the quake, with countless images taken of, well, just about everything.
In short, we have stayed connected, fully, both ways, all ways. The disaster has been documented as none other before. What a relief this is for so many who otherwise might wait days or even weeks to get news from relatives, or at least those receiving good news; and even for others, it is still better than not knowing for so long. What a resource–both good and bad–of news, allowing us to get information from all directions, for better or for worse.
In so many recent crises, this has been an invaluable resource, even to the point we may not have imagined just a few years ago. I have to wonder what more value we will find from it in the future, and how historians will look back at this time when this network became available and began to show its worth.