On the morning of September 11th, 2001 the chaos of that day presented a new challenge in a Web-connected world. As major news media sites, like CNN.com and the New York Times became inundated with user traffic, their domains became overloaded, and either didn't respond to requests, or reverted to text-only and headline pages, rather than their full multi-media. In their wake, those searching for any kind of news unavailable from one of the major news networks had to turn to unheralded news delivery systems.
At the office, we turned to the The Drudge Report, who offered any number of links to real-time data. For others, the earliest blogs rose to prominence, and people who usually focused on technology and the Web tried to take on history as it unfolded in front of their eyes. As covered in Wired's "9/11: Birth of the Blog", "When the world changed on Sept. 11, 2001, the web changed with it."
Among those Web pioneers chronicling the tragedy was Dave Winer of Scripting News. Lucky for us, his pages, unlike other prominent bloggers, have stayed live for the ensuing five years. You can see (in his bottom to top chronology) how what was supposed to be a very ordinary day was shaken off of its axis.
Years later, personally-authored blogs often break the news before the mass media can take hold of it. For some, blogs carry a higher level of veracity and community virtually impossible from an offshoot of Time Warner. For the next world-changing event (though hopefully of a different nature), we can expect how we obtain news and information to be vastly different. As I displayed with my e-mail to my father in a post from last night, there was always a willingness to share information and express personal feelings, but blogging has offered a new medium to reach more people, more quickly, than ever before.
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Editor’s Note: Part 11 in an irregular series of stories from my many years in Silicon Valley. Part 10 talked about the time I left my job...