Heart-rending stories posted on shocked survivors' blogs made the humanitarian crisis in Southeast Asia instant and visceral for the world. First-hand survivor stories on Phuket Tsunami (http://phukettsunami.blogspot.com) and ChiensSansFrontiers (http://desimediabitch.blogspot.com) were enough to bring tears.
Videoblogger Jordan Golson posted a set of terrifying tsunami videos on his weblog (http://jlgolson.blogspot. com) and received more than a petabyte of traffic. To keep up with the demand of the world's voracious eyes, many sites started volunteering bandwidth to mirror these amateur video camcorder files.
The Internet Archive (www.archive. org) created a tsunami open-source movie directory.
While many individuals provided extraordinary stories of their personal experiences, the technology collectives were the real heroes.
Peter Griffin, a communications consultant from Mumbai, India, created SEA-EAT, the South East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami weblog (http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com) with a few blogger friends to help survivors and their families connect. It's become the starting point for a world that wants to search, learn, grieve and help.
Particularly sad is the Tsunami Missing Persons (http://tsunamimissing.blogspot.com) offshoot of SEA-EAT, which alternates regularly between posting lists of the dead and missing persons queries.
The missing persons sites and message boards that are being used in an increasingly frantic way show how beautiful and fleeting the memories in photographs can be. Digital archives like the one on the BBC message board (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4130565.stm) and Flickr (www.flickr.com/groups/ tsunami_help_missing/) are reminders to hug people more often.
Unfortunately, altruism hasn't been the only force set in motion.
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org), the free bottom-up community encyclopedia written and maintained by volunteer editors, needed to include a disclaimer about the veracity of its links to various charities. Some of its users/editors had posted links to bogus organizations with names similar to well-known aid agencies.
The spurious e-mails that infuriate so many of us also started making their inevitable appearances. It took a mere 36 hours before I received my first phishing scam e-mail from "Oxfam" asking me to donate money to a bank account in Cyprus.
All technical nonsense aside, it's the survivors of this horrible disaster who are going to need sincere, sustained attention and charity in the weeks to come. Look to the blogs for continuing coverage.