Part of covering the culture of technology is covering technology’s use by the culture at large. At a certain point, however, I have had to acknowledge that we are not a general news organization. We don’t cover world news, conflicts, crises. We cover technology. And when you attempt to force news to fit inside your frame, you run the risk of deforming it. As @laurenist put it, “Every major news event now also turns into a story about social media.”
Social media is common enough, thankfully, that it has become a tool for dealing with news in a larger context. The mere fact that people are using social media in a given situation does not make that a piece of tech news.
So we thought, what could we do regarding the Japan earthquake, tsunami and problems with nearby nuclear plants, that wouldn’t be contrived? We decided that the only thing we can and should do right now is provide a highly wired readership with a collection of resources that will bring them on-the-ground news regarding what is going on in Japan.
In the future, we may explore a question suggested by @marcariel: “How does/has the web helped or hindered (the situation in Japan)?” If you have a suggestion as to kind of coverage of events like these that you would like to see from ReadWriteWeb, please leave it in the comments.
But for the time being, here is a list of Japan Twitter users, and other resources, who may provide you with a good first-hand stream of real-time news.
@timeouttokyo The Twitter account for the Tokyo version of the weekly entertainment and event guide is focusing a lot on what’s happening and what residents and visitors should do, reflecting the focus of their website.
@ambassadorroos John Roos has been the U.S. ambassador to Japan since 2009. A good source for information on official U.S. actions, such as the Marines delivering a Forward Arming and Refueling Point for use in the assistance operations.
NHK English The English channel of Japan’s most prominent television network provides text and video news updates from all over Japan.
Crisis Commons The crisis network has put together a Honshu Quake wiki.
Donating Rick has pulled together four excellent resources for those wishing to donate.
Ushahidi Crowd-sourced crisis map on the Ushahidi platform. (In Japanese.)
Google Person Finder Google’s released a Japanese version of their people-finding service for anyone having difficulties getting a hold of family and friends. The Red Cross has their own, called Family Links.
WNYC News and explainers regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant from the New York-based public radio station.
This is a small sample of real-time news resources. But it’s a start. We hope it’s helpful.