The earthquake off the coast of Japan and the resulting tsunami has proven, yet again, how the Internet offers an information lifeline to the world in a time of crisis. The Internet was designed so that US military communications could withstand a nuclear war, but is proving equally resilient in the face of natural disasters and even seismic shifts in global politics.
As the waves smashed into the Japanese coastline following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake 130 kilometres (80 miles) east in the Pacific ocean on Friday, a tsunami of images was also soon hitting the web. In scenes worthy of any Hollywood disaster movie, a massive wave was shown rolling in from the sea, and one of the most watched and shared videos was of water slowly engulfing the city of Sendai’s airport. Small aircraft, cars and trucks were shown scattered amongst the shattered debris of buildings like an unruly child’s toy box.
And what looked like prefabricated factory units were shown floating under a bridge as drivers spun their cars and trucks around to try to outrun the waves. Nearly five million people tuned in to video sharing site YouTube on Saturday to watch one raw, unedited video of the wave chewing away at Japan’s coastline. Several other videos had notched up between three and four million hits.
The internet has been playing a major role in helping Japanese Americans locate family members back in Japan!