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Jay Currie

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12/29/2004

You May Wonder

You may be wondering why I am so fascinated with the Amazon donation total. Lots of other organizations are collecting money. I heard on the news that the Canadian Red Cross has had over 3 million in donations so far.

What is different about the Amazon numbers is that it reflects a degree of connection not previously possible in traditional media. Traditional media is just now coming up to speed on the disaster. While they publish "How to Help" boxes with their stories, they cannot create an instant donation option simply because they are not linked to the 'net.

Moreover, the coverage, even on television and radio, is twelve to twenty four hours behind events and that is after a lot of catchup.

Wretchard at Belmont Club writes,

The blogosphere is a specific manifestation -- and by no means the only one -- of the networks made possible by the Internet which can be imperfectly compared to the emerging nervous system of a growing organism. Once the software and infrastructure to self-publish was in place, it was natural that analytical cells, or groups of cells would take inputs from other parts of the system and process them....

To the 'instant pundit' was added the 'instant reporter' -- the man already on the spot, often possessed of local knowledge and language skills. These came suddenly of age with the December 2004 tsunami story. Survivors with a videocamera or even just an email or web browser connection 'filed stories' which were vacuumed up by the the instant pundits hovering over their RSS subscriptions and launched into the global information pool. In retrospect, the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine forshadowed the events of the tsunami coverage. Individuals with mobile computing and communications devices provided a substantial shadow coverage of the unfolding events there. Like the tsunami instant reporters, the insta-journalists in the Ukraine had the additional advantage of being largely unknown to each other. This meant that unlike the wire services, which are often single-sourced, the insta-reports could be cross-checked. The exaggerations or misinterpretations of the one would live or die depending on the reinforcement or negation it received from other sources which could not be forced into a collusive arrangement. It was built-in collateral confirmation.
belmont club
The numbers at Amazon reflect the growth of the web and, are something of a proxy for the increasing influence of the blogosphere.

Which, I think, makes them very interesting indeed.