Grace Under Fire: Computer Journalists Go Beyond the Call of Duty

By Joel Hruska

Date: September 12, 2001

In New York City today, the ashes are still settling.  As has nearly everyone else, I've spent the last day glued to the Internet and to the television, hoping for some scrap of information that would help me make sense of this calamity.  I haven't found it yet.

But I did find something else as I searched the 'Net.  I found computer websites going above and beyond the call of duty to provide up-to-date information on what was going on in New York.  I saw techies who normally write about the latest VIA or Intel motherboards writing about the Red Cross's desperate pleas for new blood donors as existing supplies are drained to save lives crushed in the rubble of New York.

I saw Kyle at [H]ardOCP make update after update to his site, posting pictures of the damage, correspondence he received from people on the scene, and asking his fellow Americans to keep the victims in New York in their thoughts and prayers.

[H]ardOCP wasn't the only website who put human tragedy ahead of the daily rat-race.  AMDZone, ZDNet, Ars-Technica, IntelZone, Tweak3d.net, and many other sites all posted valuable information on how concerned citizens could help, offered up-to-date news coverage, and expressed their deepest regrets and sympathies.  Tom's Hardware suspended publishing as a result of the attack this morning, and Anand Lal Shimpi of Anandtech wrote a personal message on his site condemning the attack.

I am not writing this article to compare reporting techniques. I'm not writing it to give a conclusive "who's-who" list of who reported well on the disaster and who didn't. I'm sure there are websites out there who offered first-rate information that I haven't mentioned-rest assured, you're included in spirit.

I'm writing this article to commend the journalists, techies, webmasters, and reviewers who, in a moment of crisis, realized what's truly important. In the face of senseless tragedy and death, computer hardware is unimportant. Inter-site rivalries are unimportant.  Discussions of who's site favors Intel, and who's favors AMD are unimportant.

What's important is saving human life.  Helping to get the news out, helping groups like the Red Cross, and helping each other.

When the main network news sites couldn't carry the slack, we helped fill in.  The people who claim the Internet failed today as a news source are wrong.  The Net functioned exactly as it should.  Information was picked up and transmitted to so many sources, duplicated accurately on so many web sites, that no single source, no single attack, no single anything could take it down.

I have only had the privilege of writing for Van's Hardware for a few weeks, but I don't know if I'll ever be more proud to be a member of this community of hardware enthusiasts, reviewers, and webmasters than I am today.  Today, when the chips were down you went beyond the call of duty.

My hat is off to you.