Thursday, February 24, 2011

Headless Chickens of the Apocalypse

Yep, that's me too. In the wake of the 22 February earthquake I officially nominate myself as a headless chicken of the apocalypse

For the benefit of archaeologists reading this in 1,000 years time, it's now 2 days since a 6.3 magnitude earthquake went off under Christchurch, killing at least 75 people (possibly as many as 300), demolishing buildings and destroying the water supply of NZ's second largest city.

On Monday, like many New Zealanders, I watched the continuous TV coverage in stunned silence. On Tuesday, along with thousands of others I asked myself "What can I do to help?". I can't do much, but I do have internet assets so I decided I could make a list of available services. Emergency services, contact services, etc. I reasoned it shouldn't require much infrastructure so I threw up a page on my personal blog. I then discovered that there are a lot of people out there creating internet resources to help and there is quite a bit of duplication. I don't want to pick winners so I listed everything I found. Eventually the page grew to the point where the blogger editior was unhappy with the nested blockquote / bulletpoint format I chose and started grinding to a halt.

Then I had my headless chicken moment. "I'll start a new blog" I said. I was alone, so nobody said "No, you fool, there are already enough blogs" so my Christchurch Earthquake Resources Blog was born. I placed it on a domain name I already had and made it with Wordpress. Why Wordpress? I don't know how to use wordpress. Why even a blog? I'm building a directory ... in retrospect I think it's because I already had a single blog page.

I worked on this for a couple of hours til around midnight & went to bed. This morning when I woke up I was a bit more logical and said "Julia, you make directories. You've got 9 of them, this is a collection of links, why not make a directory?" so 5 minutes later I had my Christchurch Earthquake Resources Links Directory set up and 10 minutes after that I had the links duplicated. I now have the blog page, the blog and the directory ... I think I'll leave them all up for now until I work out how to glue my head back on.

On the plus side, I now have a useful list of resources for peole needing help with canterbury or wanting to offer help. The red cross website has been overloaded since the earthquake. A posting of mine about this found someone who has plenty of bandwidth and is now trying to contact them to offer help (Their phones are overloaded too).

 The moral of this story, are
  1. To help, pick something you actually know how to do
  2. Don't rush in before you're sure it's the best thing you can do
  3. Don't unnecessarily duplicate other people' efforts. Check sites like mine first and try googling. This is so new that the search engines may not have caught up, but at least try.
  4. Do tell me & others with similar lists about your sites
  5. Do co-ordinate with others who can help.

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