I left my computer unlocked this morning while taking a shower. Three minutes later my son was running into the bathroom yelling that, “Dad….your Twitter is telling you about an earthquake and a Tsunami but I cannot tell if it hit Nonna’s (Grandma’s) house in California yet! And what about our friends in Japan. Hurry! Make it work!” And so the information race was on…
I found myself searching for information on three different channels. Like many of you, we have dear friends in Japan. On the other hand, my colleagues at work were already trying to figure out how to help get information about the humanitarian response to the right people in our community who care about this issue. This was going to be the issue of the day…and the next couple of days…at work. And third, because I had committed the mistake of leaving my computer unlocked, I now had a very sensitive son worried sick about his Grandma in Orange County and his playgroup buddies in Osaka and Kobe.
It’s clear that Facebook has already helped people make the connection with friends on their whereabouts and status. I, too, was relieved to get status updates. Those words “everybody’s OK” are some of the sweetest. My wife got an e-mail blast from other friends citing information from social networks. Social media has changed the way that people respond to crises on a global level in terms of coordination, but the most basic person-to-person level is one I am also extremely grateful for this morning.
On the work front, there is a lot to pull from…and I have included a few here. I like Reuter’s Fact Box – it’s helpful to get a run-through of who is saying what and how the world is stepping-up in a disaster like this. UN Dispatch is always my source for real-time information on who to watch and who to listen to in an international humanitarian situation. Videos and pictures from the Sydney Morning Herald have been updated and helpful in getting context on how people in the Pacific are reporting on the unfolding situation. There is going to be a lot to watch over the next few days and weeks as the region responds and recovers. An informed public will help make sure it’s done well, and done right.
Perhaps the most sensitive information channel is the one that deals with my little boy. He loves geography and weather (and Asia!), so this particular disaster is hitting him hard in three of the areas nearest to his heart. I remember reading something by the PBS “Supersisters” about the Haiti earthquake that I found useful a few months back. It offers a good set of guidelines on what you can do to engage with your kids on an issue like this. I would be curious if parents have already found other useful resources on the situation in Japan and the Pacific.
It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d left the computer unlocked or not. I was going to be looking for information and operating on these channels regardless today. The channel of prayers and concern for the people in the Pacific and the thousands of people on their way to help respond is of course open, and cannot be overlooked.