Political Promise

Haiti Quake Heralds the Rise of the “Micro-Volunteer”

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm

The plight of Haitians after 12th January’s massive earthquake remains, rightly, at the top of the globe’s news agenda and people around the world continue to watch as everyone from wealthy celebrities to the ordinary bloke give what they can to help the aid effort. We’re told the appeal has raised an unprecedented amount in donations. Good stuff I think you’ll agree.

In times of crisis people pull together and help, it’s not new; in fact it’s reassuringly the same. But helping is now easier than ever thanks to yep, you guessed it, social media and networking. One site is embracing everybody’s familiarity with the Facebook tag tool and asking people to look through photos of Haiti being streamed from Flickr.com, and tag all the distinguishing features such as a person’s gender, age or clothes. The idea is that if people are looking for loved ones missing after the quake, of which there are, at the time of writing this, sadly still thousands, they’ll be more easily tracked down within the masses of images (some understandably disturbing) emanating from the disaster zone.

Beextra.org/Haiti is giving people the ability to “micro-volunteer”, and like the micro-blog before, is making it harder to differentiate between people who get on with it, and people who let others get on with it. With Twitter suddenly everyone could be a published writer. I’m not suggesting that micro-blogging should replace the novel and that the year’s ‘best Tweet written in the English language’ should get its own award or cash prize, but the world needs all sorts. Some people like those that work for MSF or Oxfam fly directly into disaster zones while others donate with an untroubled click of a link. Whether it comes easily or takes a great deal of effort, help is help however you look at it.

Emma Hill


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