A Wired World In Its Own Mirror

Visit the YouTube Japan earthquake video upload page here. One of the most viewed videos was taken in first-person "shooter view" in what seems to be a Japanese residence. The person manages to capture the video, evacuate the house and get everybody outside with only a slight trace of nervousness.

Although the trend began with backpacker-contributed footage of the tsunami that hit Thailand, uploads to the Japanese earthquake video YouTube site suggests that from now on, most of the archival video footage of public events in the world will be taken by amateurs.  Cameras are ubiquitous and people know it. Three people in California were swept away as they stood near the beach waiting to take pictures of the tsunami. One is still missing, according to the Wall Street Journal, which writes:

Three people taking pictures of the surf near the mouth of the Klamath River, about 20 miles south of Crescent City, Calif., were surprised by large waves and swept into the water, said Cindy Henderson, emergency services officer for Del Norte County. Two of the people struggled out of the surf and a male in his 20s is still missing, and is now the focus of a search and rescue operation, said a Coast Guard spokesman.

People feel the same natural thrill at capturing an extraordinary event and posting it online as photojournalists must have once  felt when they found themselves on the scene at some momentous occasion. It may have cost one of those three men in Crescent City his life. And though it is not without its drawbacks, the emergence of literally millions of unique data capturing points, especially in a place as dense with electronics as Japan, means that we have a far richer dataset on which to base history.