While TV news dominated the coverage of the attacks 10 years ago, this year, the Internet, tablets and social media provide new ways of remembering, understanding and memorialising the event that is still very present in the global consciousness.
Analysts speculate that had Twitter been around on 9/11, the sheer volume of tweets would have brought the service to its knees.
Twitter was the social media service that broke the news of Bin Laden's death this year, as Sohaib Athar and Mohsin Shah became overnight Twitter-celebrities after they both unwittingly live tweeted the US raid that killed Bin Laden.
This week, mentions of '9/11' have already been trending in the build-up to the anniversary.Facebook, another social media service that was yet to be invented at the time of the attacks, has collaborated with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to develop a 9/11 memorial app.
The app allows users to update profile photos or dedicate a status update in remembrance of the victims of 9/11. The application became available on Wednesday and was created by Facebook app maker, Involver.
When a user signs up to donate their status, the application selects the name of one of the 3 000 victims of the World Trade Centre attack, the passengers of Flight 93, the attack on the Pentagon as well as those killed in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. The status is then dedicated to a single victim. Users can also choose to dedicate the update to a specific person of their choice.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum also has an on-going collective story-telling platform, 'Make History'. The site collects and collates the personal stories of those who experienced and were affected by the events of 9/11. Content ranges from written, to photographic, to audio and video footage.
An iPad application has also been released for the 10-year anniversary, “The 9/11 Memorial: Past, Present and Future”. The app was developed by documentary producer and CEO of Magnify.net, Steve Rosenbaum, and is available for 11 days of use for free.
Rosenbaum reportedly created the app from a selection of 22 000 images and 400 hours of video taken from 11 September 2001 until a few weeks ago. The 400 hours of video footage have been reduced to one hour.
The app documents the construction of the Twin Towers in the 1960s, the day of the attack and the creation of the National 9/11 Museum. After the first 11 days, the app is charged at $9.99.
While news agencies were online in 2001, many of their sites crashed at the time due to high traffic, and the bulk of breaking news and information came via live broadcasts.
Even the Google landing page at the time featured a message stating the most current information would be found on TV or radio. The search engine also used its ads space and special links on its homepage to keep its users updated, because its search algorithm returned out-of-date and negligible results.
Now, however, news sites have compiled comprehensive multimedia coverage for the anniversary. CNN.com commissioned artists to create or choose work to illustrate the ripple effect of 9/11, and the artworks have been compiled into a slideshow on the site. This accompanies multiple videos, news archives and the newly released audio footage from the hi-jacked planes.
One of the most comprehensive online resources for the 9/11 anniversary is the 9/11 Television News Archive compiled by the non-profit Internet Archive project. The archive allows users to explore 3 000 hours of international TV news coverage from 20 channels over seven days (from 11 – 17 September) with selected analysis by scholars.
“Television is our pre-eminent medium of information, entertainment and persuasion, but until now it has not been a medium of record,” says the Internet Archive.
“This archive attempts to address this gap by making TV news coverage of this critical week in September 2001 available to those studying these events and their treatment in the media.”
Users can search through video clips arranged in timelines and separated into coverage by different countries.
The archive quotes professor of comparative studies at MIT, William Uricchio: “Within the course of a few hours, the unthinkable had occurred and news coverage shifted from responding to uncertain events to imposing form and meaning upon them.
“Graphic form, rhythmic form (the footage of the jet smashing into the second tower repeated up to 30 times per hour), and increasingly, narrative form – all gave coherence to events that were still difficult to comprehend.”
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