The Stream Comes First

220px-Map_of_Sendai_Earthquake_2011 Then you talked about it, connected with people, and discussed it. News of the tragic earthquake and tsunami that affected so many lives in Japan reached me while I was traveling to SxSW. I saw the reports coming in through Twitter.

I was able to see that my cousin, who lives in Japan, was safe from posts on his Facebook wall. No need to call, clog international phone lines, or get frustrated from not getting through. Just open the app and check it out.

Two minutes in all.

Doc Searls wrote a very poignant post about earthquake turns TV networks into print. He writes: the quake is coming to be called the 2011 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami, and your best portable media to keep up with it are these:

  1. Al Jazeera English, for continuous live TV coverage (interrupted by war coverage from Libya)
  2. Twitter, for continuous brief reports and pointing to sources
  3. Wikipedia, for a continuously updated static page called 2011 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami, with links to authoritative sources

Here are some before and after images made available by Google.

The point is that the stream now comes first. That's where we go to see what is going on, share the experience with others, make sense of things and support each other in a moment of need. Of course, soon enough, the conversation reached pretty high levels and it became hard to tell who was talking from the event vs. about the event, as Jeff Jarvis (who incidentally I had the opportunity to meet today at his book signing at #SxSW) wrote.

Then something interesting happened.

Open source help

A couple of people started talking about how they could help while here at SxSW — a place where there is an incredible concentration of skills. My friend Leigh Durst took initiative, many others joined the effort, and all of a sudden a fund raising site is up and donations are coming in — SxSW Cares; we care.

Sxswcares-logoPeople care about what is happening to other people halfway across the world. Because it could be happening to them, and because it's the right thing to do.

How can you watch what is happening without wanting to do something about it? Now individuals have the ability to do something about it.

It is about both/and — watching and doing. That is the future of news — and of business. If you'd like to contribute or spread the word, here's how you can do it. The stream comes first means you take care of what is most important — the people who need your help, now.

This is why social is the best part of media.


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