How technology is being used to provide information
This is a guest post by Kristina Troost, the Japanese Studies librarian and Head of International and Area Studies at Duke. She selects books on Japan and works with faculty and students to find information on Japan.
As I see the images of the destruction caused by the tsunami in northern Japan on Friday March 11, 2011, I find myself wanting to know more. As I search, I am overwhelmed by the amount of information that is available. The first information I found was Al Jazeera doing some on-the-spot reporting, but soon I learned that most Japanese TV stations are available through ustream. Videos of the earthquake and the tsunami have been posted on YouTube (as of the afternoon of March 11, more than 9,000 earthquake-related videos and 7,000 tsunami-related videos had been uploaded to YouTube).
Satellite photographs, too, have increased our understanding of the scale of the disaster. The New York Times links to a series of photos from before and after the quake and tsunami: you can move the slider to compare satellite images, taken by GeoEye: http://www.nytimes.com /interactive/2011/03/13/world/asia/satellite-photos-japan-before-and-after-tsunami.html. A series of KML files are available for download to view Google Earth (remember to take time differences into account; if night in Japan, there will be no image available).
Facebook, Twitter, Mixi and email have been used to let friends and family know of individual statuses, and technologies such as Google Docs have been used to share information – see, for instance, a spreadsheet on the status of faculty and graduate students at Tohoku University and Miyagi University: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?hl=ja&key=th1OKZ0vIq74DQI-tF-w_tg&hl=ja#gid=0. The major cell phone companies have set up message boards to help people contact their friends, and Google has set up a person finder web app (see Google Crisis Response for more information as well as information about making donations, links to organizations, maps, and latest news). Google Maps has been used to plot the damage to libraries in northern Japan with links to photos and their current situation, http://bit.ly/h8QAIj. Even NHK and US cable networks have been cooperating to provide free access to NHK in many cities.