New Orleans Outrage

I’ve made it a practice to avoid political commentary in this blog, but this goes beyond politics, and I can’t hold my voice.

Regardless of where you reside in the political spectrum, I have to believe you’re as angered as I am with the way our government – both local and federal – handled the foreseeable disaster that hit New Orleans. The disconnect between what took place and what our officials said took place is infuriating, and it demands a response not just from the citizens of New Orleans, but from every last one of us as well.

At a time when we’re warned that terrorist attacks are a certainty, how can we be so ill-prepared to help those affected by this disaster? How can any of us believe our own local governments are capable of providing protection?

I’m disgusted with those we’ve elected to run our government, and with those who apologize for them. I’m disgusted with the photo ops and needless delays while our fellow citizens are living in third-world conditions.

For now, most of us are focusing on what we can do to help. I imagine many Americans have had discussions like the one my wife and I had this morning, where we tried to figure out not only how much we can afford to give, but also where and when to give. But down the road, after we’ve all opened our hearts and wallets wider than we believed possible, outrage will take over.

Our country will be rocked by this tragedy for years to come. And it should be.


I’ve been in Denver most of this week, and like much of the world, when I wasn’t working I was glued to the incoming stream of news about Hurricane Katrina and its awful aftermath. Lately I’ve been stressing about my pending surgery, but now I’m aware of how small my problems are in contrast to the problems borne by the survivors of this disaster.

In the past I’ve donated sales of my software to relief agencies, and I’m pleased to see that NewsGator is continuing this practice. I’m also donating my next paycheck to disaster relief, but that’s a small sacrifice in comparison to the deeds of NewsGator’s Anita Taylor, who is heading to Houston for five days of volunteer work.

BTW, if you’ve been trying to make a donation to the American Red Cross and have found their site very slow to access, you can always make a donation through, or simply mail the check to:

American Red Cross
Hurricane 2005 Relief
PO Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013

And if you’re looking to give to an agency other than the Red Cross, there are plenty to choose from.

Disaster Relief, PII

On Monday I announced that 100% of my revenue from FeedDemon and TopStyle this week will go to disaster relief, but I’m far from the only software developer making a contribution. Here’s a list of other developers who are donating from their earnings:

If I missed anyone, let me know by posting a comment or trackback and I’ll update this list.

Disaster Relief

Greg Hughes is right:

“This is the right time to stop what you normally do, get out of your little digital world that you assume is all-defining and all-encompassing (it’s not, really) and come back to reality…Very real people are experiencing very real pain, and you can do your part to help them recover.”

Until the end of the month, everything I earn from TopStyle and FeedDemon will be donated to the International Red Cross to help those affected by this disaster.

Update: Looking for a way to help? The Command Post has a list of ways to donate. Or how about pledging your Google AdSense revenue?

We the Media

I recently read Dan Gillmor’s new book “We the Media,” and it really struck a chord with me. As I mentioned in a recent post, my first encounter with the Web was as a cartoonist, and I was fascinated by the powerful self-publishing opportunities made available by this new medium. So much so, that every application I’ve written has been the result of the initial thrill I felt at circumventing traditional publishing.

As Gillmor points out, blogs are fulfilling many of the early promises of the Web, especially in regards to the democratization of media. While the mainstream media tends to focus on blogs as places where lost souls talk about their cats, the reality is that many people – including myself – find blogs to be a better source of information than newspapers and (especially) TV. This really hit home with me during a recent computer-free long weekend which forced me to rely on the mainstream media for news. The wealth of viewpoints offered on the Web was narrowed down to a few sounds bites about a handful of “important” stories, interspersed with garbage news about pop culture icons. I felt that I was getting only part of the story – and missing many stories entirely.

Yes, there’s a lot of nonsense in blogs, but there’s also an awful lot of first-rate publishing going on. Witness John Robb’s Global Guerillas, Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo or Jay Rosen’s PressThink. Mainstream media may provide the headlines, but I rely on blogs such as these to provide the in-depth (and behind-the-scenes) stories.

Of course, Gillmor talks about much more than blogs in his book, and it’s a must read for anyone remotely interested in how technology is wrestling with Big Media for the future of journalism. After I read it again, I’ll find a spot for it next to The Cluetrain Manifesto on my bookshelf.