The following is a press release from the #quakebook website. This book is a beautiful product of technology and humanity coming together in a more intimate and immediate way than ever before.
Tokyo, Japan — In just over a week, a group of professional and citizen journalists collaborated via Twitter to create a book to raise money for Japanese Red Cross earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. The book will be available for download via Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader ebook platforms within several days. One hundred percent of revenues will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.
The 98-page book, titled 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake and known on Twitter as “#quakebook”, is the brainchild of a Briton who lives in the Tokyo area and blogs under the pseudonym “Our Man in Abiko”.
The day after the earthquake and tsunami, Our Man in Abiko wrote on his blog, ”Is there anything you can do? Right now, I’m not sure. But I’ll think of something.”
A few days later, he did think of something. The former journalist put out a call on his blog and via Twitter for art, essays and photographs that reflected first-person accounts of the disaster. He decided he would edit them into a book and donate all the revenues to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Within 15 hours, he had received 74 eyewitness submissions from all over Japan, as well as reactions from elsewhere in Asia, Europe and North America.
In addition to narratives by journalists and people who braved the disaster, 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake contains writing created specifically for the book by authors William Gibson, Jake Adelstein, and Barry Eisler, as well as a piece by artist and musician Yoko Ono.
“The primary goal,” Our Man in Abiko says, “is to raise awareness, and in doing so raise money for the Japanese Red Cross Society to help the thousands of homeless, hungry and cold survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. The biggest frustration for many of us was being unable to help these victims. I don’t have any medical skills, and I’m not a helicopter pilot, but I can edit. I’m doing what I can do.”
With the book completed, the project team turned again to social media. In a matter of days, they created a website, Facebook page and Twitter account (@quakebook). The project quickly got attention from Twitter users like Yoko Ono as well as tech, publishing, and Japan-centric blogs.
“Twitter has been an amazing collaboration tool,” says Our Man in Abiko. “A few tweets pulled together nearly everything – all the participants, all the expertise – and in just over a week we had created a book including stories from an 80-year-old grandfather in Sendai, a couple in Canada waiting to hear if their relatives were okay, and a Japanese family who left their home, telling their young son they might never be able to return.
Soon we were working with the world’s biggest ebook distributors and fielding calls from newspapers and television stations on five continents. People around the world are responding to the message of #quakebook [and] I really feel we are on the brink of something amazing.”