I just noticed via my Flickr photo-feed for the tag earthquake that there has been an earthquake in Tokyo (5.1 magnitude). I looked at my earthquake Flickr badge and saw all these photos of the Tokyo subways, And sure enough, there was an earthquake today.
This reminds me of something I've been meaning to mention for a while: how easy it would be to document human rights violations using systems like Flickr. And to some extent this is already being done. I wrote this up a while back in private correspondence, meaning to revise. But I think I'll just put this out there now. The world needs to know that there are much better ways to document human rights violations than sending documents via email to Westchester housewives like, say, me. Here's a rough outline of what I was thinking:
I am working from how I tracked info on the situation in Pakistan following the earthquake, but this would work just as well for human rights violations. There's some really gruesome stuff in Flickr documenting the arrival of medical teams in remote places weeks after the earthquake that had had no relief whatsoever. I had never seen three week old untreated wounds before. And the people in the pictures look so grateful to finally be getting help.
To document human rights violations, all they have to do is take digital photos and upload them to Flickr; tag them with relevant tags, like say HAITI and MASSACRE and such; geotag them: i.e. give lat and lon coords, or street address, or other really specific info. The photos come in date stamped in the first place with the data from the camera, but sometimes the camera is set wrong, so they want to be sure. And my additional advice to any one doing that wold be to add little or no political rhetoric, because what is important is for the objective observer over the Internet to ascertain that something happened and what it was.
In Flickr, one can make what are called Flickr badges. I have a couple on my site. You can make Flickr badges with feeds for specific tags. I've got one for "earthquake", and one for "Google Earth" and also that's how the photos at the top of my page work.
So you get the photos uploaded to Flickr. Then you can set up blogs all over the place with Flickr tags that will broadcast those pix. You can, at your leisure, add info to those blogs to go with the pix. Also, you don't have to have just one Flickr account. You can set up a new one each time you want to upload if your really want to. And there are other photo uploading services. That's just the one I know best and used to get hard info out of Pakistan after the earthquake and out of NOLA before that.
One of my new years resolutions is that certain things are going to be different and better in the 21st century. This is a start, and it's only February 1st.