When there is a crisis people, governments, organisations, companies and even technical inventions show their real potential. Or their bad face. Right now we face another disastrous tragedy with the people in Japan suffering from a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a terrible tsunami that not only killed people immediatly but also is responsible for critical problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The radioactive pollution could even reach Tokyo city and affect 35 million people as the worst case.
It is always the people
Since this blog is about web stuff and this post aims to show the role of web 2.0 importance in a crisis there is one thing to mention ahead: It is always the people that are the important factor. The medical staff that helps people in the destroyed area, the people donating and offering help and – of course – the few remaining staff people at the fukushima power plant who stayed there due to the rising amount of radioactive pollution. They sacrifice their health – maybe even their life – in order to gain somehow control over the power plant in order to prevent a nuclear meltdown. Those people are the heroes. Technical stuff is just the tool. Period.
Now let’s have look at the importance of web 2.0 and the world wide web in a crisis like the one that hit us last week. One good example was posted in Kevin Rose’s Blog. An Apple store staff member sent an email to Kevin and explained in great detail what they (the Apple store in Tokyo) did and how Apple reacted to the dangerous situation. Without telling to much (go read over there) here is the short version: While other stores closed, the Apple store remained open providing electricity (for charging mobile phones) and free wifi access for everybody (as usual in Apple stores). So the Apple store became a center for people that were trying to connect to their loved ones. Telling them they are ok or telling them where they are. Furthermore many people gathered around the Macs in order to check the internet for news on the recent incidents. Apple then told their staff that they can choose whether to stay or to leave the town or the country. Their job will be waiting for them. Furthermore Apple provided food and space for it’s staff to stay since going away wasn’t that easy of course. When the shop had to close at 10 p.m. many of the staff members stayed in order to help people charging their phones or connecting via social communities to their families and friends. Without any fanboy-rism: Well done, Apple,well done Apple staff!
As mentioned this is not about Apple as a brand, this is about the importance of high-tech and web 2.0 in our modern world. People try during crisis to stay online, to stay connected. Maybe even more than usual. We’ve seen that in other terrible events (Iran, Egypt, just to name two) and see it now in Japan. The news websties of AlJazeera or CNN are one of the most visited in those days, youtube and google searches are all about japan, earthquakes, tsunami or nuclear power plants.
It is not only the information gathering that makes the world wide web so important in times of a crisis. It is the interaction that puts even more importance to one of the biggest inventions in history. With a single mouse click people can spread the word all over the world. Inform friends, family, workmates, classmates…..almost everybody can participate in this modern movement without having to do a lot. Unfortunately an important factor in our modern times.
Furthermore it is easy to “help”. With another mouseclick you can donate to the people in need. Donating was never so easy. No need to run to your bank, fill out a transaction form. Click, done. Doing good became as easy as 1, 2, 3. Why don’t you do it more often?
All of this shows us, that the internet has long evolved from the tiny little geek toy to the most important medium of our time. It is not only a sneaky little tool, it is the tool of our time, it is the connection between humans, it is our home – our now.