If you were in New Orleans for Katrina, or if you’ve returned in the past year, then you know that depending on the government is kind of frustrating. Unfortunately, the government sort of has a monopoly on governing. One thing that ‘governing bodies’ do is dispense useful information to the citizenry. Katrina taught us that the governing folks had trouble dispensing any kind of information, much less useful information.
Fortunately, we poor and (supposedly) disorganized citizens can dispense our own information using the power of the internet. My friend Brian Oberkirch set up a blog after Katrina called the Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog. Now he has set up a couple of new blogs in preparation for future storms. He’s looking for people to help with Fix the Gulf blog. He needs editors in each of the affected towns who want to help aggregate information and for their areas. In addition to the blog, he has a wiki where people post up their own links, requests, material, etc.
Also, he has a blog called HurricaneMind. Here’s his explanation of what that blog is all about:
When a storm comes, we all spend the week asking each other what we’re going to do about it. "Are you leaving? Getting your supplies gathered to hunker down? Boarding up? Where you headed?" And so on. HurricaneMind takes that process and writes it large. The idea is to take the wisdom of crowds and apply it to hurricane prep. In addition to telling you what your neighbors are thinking, I’d like the app to map hotel room availability, gather current open evacuation routes, show you where plywood and other supplies are still available and aggregate news sources in one central spot.
I like that phrase: "the wisdom of crowds." It has a nice ring. Definitely sounds better than the "inexorable incompetence of bureacracies.