Sunday, October 08, 2006

Flashback: 10/8/2005; Earthquake in Kashmir


Flashback:

According to the netizen’s reference of choice, the Wikipedia, the recent earthquake hit South Asia 08:50:38 Pakistan Standard Time (03:50:38 UTC/ 09:20:38 India Standard Time) on Saturday, October 8th, 2005. It was Friday night here in California and, as a lot of us are wont to do, before I turned in to sleep, I happened to glance at Yahoo! News headlines. There was mention about a quake in Pakistan. It seemed like a pretty serious natural disaster—though, at the time, we had no idea quite how serious.

For about six months, I have been working on a project called WikiPakistan (pakistan.wikicities.com), a “Pakistan Information Database” hosted on WikiCities, a system run by the same foundation that runs the WikiPedia. (The WikiPedia is a free and “Open Source” encyclopedia based on the new “Wiki” technology for developing Web sites.) Up to that point, this project had been moving rather slowly, with me trying to get people interested and entering information in between holding down a Silicon Valley day job, managing two kids both of whose parents have professional jobs, and trying to keep my blog up to date. But as I read the news about the quake, I realized that this was exactly the kind of situation that this project could address. I created a page on the site devoted to the quake. Then I sent an e-mail to several mailing lists I am on and to friends informing them and inviting them to contribute, and went to sleep. By then, it had a couple of news links, a couple of links to technical information about the quake, and some empty sections for links to personal accounts, organizations working to provide relief, governments’ response, and some other useful links. It was 2:08 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, and about 2:00 p.m. in Pakistan when I made my last edit that night. It had been a little over five hours since the earthquake hit.

By the next morning, of course, the world was buzzing with news, views, interviews and information about the quake, relief efforts, statistics, and the like. Over the next few days, I fell into the routine of following what I could from mailing lists, e-mails being sent around, news sites, and the like and adding information to the wiki site. Very soon, others joined in—not least, people on the ground in Pakistan...
You can read the whole article from a year ago in the November 2005 edition of the Siliconeer Magazine.

The Wiki pages are also still around and live, if a little stale. Please stop by and update things if you get a chance: http://pakistan.wikia.com/wiki/Earthquake_10-05 . A page has been set up for updates a year on at: http://pakistan.wikia.com/wiki/One_Year_After_the_10-05_Quake

The All Things Pakistan blog at Pakistaniat.com has a couple of posts (at least) that are worth reading on this topic--including one that went live at exactly the moment of the 1-year anniversary of the event; one about "Zalzala Khan", a kid born during the quake, so to speak, and nicknamed after the event; and a picture of the day that is just amazing (the one reproduced above).

PS: The team at Help-Pakistan.com is coordinating blogging about the anniversary at:

http://help-pakistan.com/main/2006/10/06/october-8th-2005-have-you-forgotten/

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