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Tsunami Prompts Online Outpouring

The Times also ran excerpts from blogs of people on the scene. It included this note from science-fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke, a Sri Lanka resident: "Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter 8 in "The Reefs of Taprobane," 1957). That happened in August 1883, following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian Ocean." Also this, from an unknown blogger at "Wayward Mutterings:" "Suffice to say that since I am living dangerously near the coast I have already checked to make sure my dining table can be turned over to construct a makeshift floating device at the shortest notice. I wonder how many of my books, CD's and DVD's can fit on it."
The New York Times: A Catastrophe Strikes, and the Cyberworld Responds (Registration required)

Next Generation Blogging

Amateur videos of the tsunami and its aftermath are sparking never-before-seen interest in video blogs, otherwise known as "vlogs," The Wall Street Journal reported. "WaveofDestruction.org, created by an Australian blogger to host tsunami videos, logged 682,366 unique visitors from last Wednesday through Sunday morning, and has more than 25 amateur videos of the impact so far," the Journal wrote. "'The ease of putting something online is pretty much instant,' says Geoffrey Huntley, the founder of Wave of Destruction. 'At a media company, I'm sure there are channels you have to go through -- copyright, legal, editorial, etc. Blogging is instant.'"

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The Journal noted that singer Ashlee Simpson and her Saturday Night Live lip-synching gaffe, as well as Jon Stewart's infamous "Crossfire" appearance were big hits for video blogging, but that the tsunami disaster could be the breakthrough moment.

One policy question for the very near future: who owns the rights? More from the Journal: "The networks typically seem to ignore competition from news blogs that post videos, although that may change as video-blogging expands. Bill Wheatley, Vice President of NBC News, says during the last six months the network has begun adding a digital watermark to its video 'so electronically we can determine if it's our video.' He says the marking is mostly to know if other TV stations are using its video, rather than keeping tabs on the Internet. 'But the day may come when we may need to deal with that,' he says."
The Wall Street Journal: Video Blogs Break Out With Tsunami Scenes (Subscription required)

What High-Speed Connections Are All About

The latest numbers aren't available yet, but the Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend that the Internet allowed so many people to make instant donations that money totals were "rising dramatically hour to hour." From the LAT: "By Friday, the International Red Cross reported $47.3 million in donations in the first four days after Sunday's tragedy. World Vision, based in the Seattle area, said it had collected $8 million, and UNICEF received $20 million. With donations as small as $10 and as large as the $35 million pledge of cash and medicine from pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc., people across the United States are finding a variety of ways to give."
Los Angeles Times: Donations Large and Small Climb by the Hour (Registration required)

The Washington Post carried this quote in an article that ran last Thursday: "This is like 1951, when television really took off," Paul Saffo, director of the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future, said yesterday. "We are in the middle of a fundamental shift from mass media to the personal media of computers and the Internet, and charitable giving is a logical progression."
The Washington Post: Internet Sparks Outpouring of Instant Donations (Registration required)

News.com carried a good roundup of the technology industry's contributions:

* From the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation: $3 million;
* From Microsoft Corp.: $2 million in corporate contributions to relief agencies and an estimated $1.5 million in matching contributions based on employee giving;
* From Cisco Systems: $2.5 million for relief and reconstruction as well as communications equipment.
CNET'S News.com: Tech community joins tsunami relief effort

The Wall Street Journal also carried an article on similar efforts by mobile phone companies: "The day after the tsunami first hit, all four cellphone-service providers in Italy began sending customers text messages inviting them to donate to charities supporting the rescue efforts, according to a spokeswoman for Telecom Italia Mobile, or TIM, a unit of Telecom Italia SpA. The message asks customers to send a text message costing €1 ($1.36) to a specific number -- and that money is then donated to the fund, she said. By Friday morning, this method had raised €15 million, according to TIM," the Journal reported. "The idea has been duplicated around the world, albeit with some modifications. In Spain, Telefonica Moviles, a unit of Telefonica SA, is advertising a number to which customers can send a text message costing 90 European cents, according to a company spokesman. The money is donated to a charity chosen by the customer from a list included in the text message, the spokesman said." Other companies trying out their own ways of giving include Hong Kong's SmarTone Mobile Communications Ltd., China Resources Peoples Telephone Co., and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.
The Wall Street Journal: Cellphones Help With Disaster Relief (Subscription required)

There are more charities, relief organizations and other ways of helping the disaster victims than we can list in this column. Fortunately, there are lists all over the Internet that readers can turn to if they want to help. Here are just a few, featured by The Washington Post, Google, Yahoo and MSNBC.

Cindy Webb is off today and Tuesday. Comments about this article should be sent to robertDOTmacmillanATwashingtonpost.com.

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com.

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