Japan– Uncontrolled News Leak

Thanks to Dem from CT on Daily Kos for this fine post about crowdsourcing vital news.

The idea that governments or companies or anyone gets to control information is sooo 20th century. Sure, plenty of things are secret (but ask the Wikileaks folks for how long) while/but plenty of things are out there for anyone enterprising enough to put the data together.

Does this replace health and disaster reporters and journalists? Not at all. It’s data for them to vet, just like it’s data for us to vet. Sometimes, it’ll be vetted by non-journalists with expertise in a particular area (and some of them, like Nate Silver and Glenn Greenwald, will move from blogger to pundit over time.)

Now, is the data on the internet always going to be right? No, but it will get corroborated and corrected. If it raises the right questions, it’s done its job. In fact, traditional journalism also makes errors (and sometimes sources are flat-out wrong), so the correction process is always a dynamic one.

Dem from CT linked to this site– Pachtube real time crowdsourced radiation maps.

Thank you to all the cranky people who have insisted for years that ‘experts’ should, as an ethical requirement, reveal who is paying them. That helps us put in perspective a reassuring analysis of the risks of nuclear power by a consultant to the nuclear industry.

Before the net, that was the only information we’d be able to get, other than the warnings of those folks waving signs outside the gates. I know, because we were hearing the exact same arguments thirty years ago, from experts paid by the nuclear industry.

Here in the US the Environmental Protection Agency says that 20 of 124 radiation monitors nationwide are out of service.

A Geiger Counter is not terribly expensive or hard to obtain, so maybe we’ll do some crowdsourcing here.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal reports danger, confusion, and some hope in the struggle to contain the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex…

The water problems of the past four days underscore the complexities and uncertainties that continue to surround the repair effort, as workers, engineers and regulators are forced to confront new problems just as they seem to have solved old ones. Perhaps more unnerving than the specifics of the radioactive water is that it shows how unpredictable the repairs have become, and thus how hard it is for anybody to say with certainty how quickly or easily they can be completed.

Experts say the Japanese are moving in a prudent manner given the enormity of the task. As long as workers are able to keep the cores cool, the experts say, the nuclear material will continue to produce less heat naturally.

“Time is their friend,” said Alexander Sich, an associate professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. “The longer they wait, the cooler the cores get, the less stress on the system.”

The picture changes hour by hour. I hope they will soon have success in bringing the radiation under control. After that is a daunting clean-up job.

One leak I want to see continue is news from every source. Even as workers put themselves in harms way and people in Japan struggle to make sense of conflicting warnings, the industry is already minimizing the crisis and dismissing public concern as ignorance.

The big money, now as thirty years ago, is with the nuclear industry and its favored politicians. Unlike thirty years ago, we can do more than wave signs. Freedom of the press, they say, belongs to him who owns the press. For now, that freedom is enjoyed by countless small publishers, in Fukushima, in California, in Russia and Norway and Pennsylvania.

Radiation from Japan’s nuclear disaster has circled the globe several times, as has the news. Truth will win.


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