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9/3/2005
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A Wiki Gets To Work For NOLA

Here's a link to another excellent primary source of news coming out of New Orleans: The NOLA Intel Wiki You'll find a lot of resouces here, most of them in the form of raw information -- including live feeds of key police, FEMA, National Guard, and other radio frequencies in the New Orleans area. Be aware: This is not a blog. Information-seekers who aren't motivated, patient, and at last somewhat technically incline

Here's a link to another excellent primary source of news coming out of New Orleans: The NOLA Intel Wiki You'll find a lot of resouces here, most of them in the form of raw information -- including live feeds of key police, FEMA, National Guard, and other radio frequencies in the New Orleans area. Be aware: This is not a blog. Information-seekers who aren't motivated, patient, and at last somewhat technically inclined won't last five minutes here.I suppose CNN could still blow them out of the water by mentioning them on live TV, but I think this stuff is a little too geek-friendly to get the same attention lavished on it as so many blogs have this week.

From the About Us page:

Nola-intel.org was setup just on a lark by a bunch of people hanging out in the #interdictor irc channel, who wanted to keep track of all the random bits of information floating by, including information garnered from the radio scanner, without committing it to a running blog where info ages too fast. The project is already in its ripe old age of 2-3 hours started to spawn a real-world resources/supplies collection/information effort. (Time will tell what we can provide to the people of NOLA in this respect, but we're trying.)

These folks are affiliated with Michael Barnett (aka Interdictor), who is quickly earning, along with his colleagues working in downtown Hell tonight, an honored place in what I hope will be New Orleans' continuing history. They are serious people providing a serious information resource; if you visit the site, be sure to read up and get a feel for what they're doing before you begin asking questions or trying to use the resources available there.

By the way, these folks need volunteers to help them transcribe the chatter on these radio channels, which are accessible as live Internet feeds to anyone with an IRC client. These transcripts are then archived and posted for public use.

Why bother to do this? I have my own perspective on that question; I was a history PhD student several lifetimes ago, and I consider any effort to preserve primary souces relating to such an important historical event to be self-justifying. In addition, this material may be of interest to policy-makers trying to understand just what went wrong, why it went wrong, and who is responsible for bungling the rescue effort so badly. Preserving these communications also ensure that any additional mistakes won't be swept under the rug; this record of military and police operations in the city will be impossible to censor, suppress, or manipulate after the fact.

Last but not least, there's the chance something in this material may help the survivors in some way. People desperate for information about family, friends, pets, their homes, or whatever else is important to them may find the clues they need here, and I'm sure that's reason enough for everyone involved to press ahead.

And with that, I have a confession to make. I can count on one hand the number of times I've used IRC, and I'm basically a complete moron when it comes to using an IRC client. So here I am, downloading a client and some documentation so that I can learn enough to be of use as a transcriber, perhaps within the next several hours. But I also want to help get the word out to those who might need this information: If you to know what's happening on the ground, inside New Orleans tonight, this may be a good place to spend some time.

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