Simulating Disaster

I am officially convinced that there is nothing we can’t virtually simulate. For anyone who wants a finger on the pulse of everything that’s interesting and worth talking about, bookmark As an example of what they’re working on, check out Inside Disaster, an interactive educational website about the Haiti earthquake and humanitarian work. When you get to the site, read about what they’re doing and then scroll down on the homepage til you see the button, “Survive. Report. Save Lives. Go Inside the Haiti Earthquake.” Then it’s like you’ve been vacuum-sucked through a wormhole and back to reading “choose your own adventure” books, only this time they’re virtual and animated and you’re seeing and hearing the repercussions of your decisions as either a survivor, journalist or humanitarian aid worker in Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010.

The simulation walks you through the critical hours after the earthquake, the decisions that each group of people faced, and the horrific images that became their world and that we saw on the front page of every print news publication for days afterward. The site’s not a total downer, I promise – mostly, it’s just incredibly interesting. It’s certainly graphic, but it’s main – and in many ways unprecedented – accomplishment is bridging not only geographical but experiential divides, and that’s an extraordinary proposition. Certainly, there’s no amount of virtual exposure that will ever get you or I anywhere near the real emotional, mental and physiological experience, but this is the closest we’ll ever get to empathy and I think it’s an exceptional stride.

Additionally, the site accompanies a three-part documentary that follows the Red Cross’ response to the disaster. says of themselves,

The goal of the site is to help users explore the complexities of humanitarian work in the 21st century, as well as the specific challenges and experiences that arose from the aftermath of the Haiti quake.

Like I said, I actually think it does more than this. In fact, I think the primary objective is a bit mislabeled – this doesn’t touch on a lot of what humanitarian work is: in short, a lot less exciting, efficient, and impactful than the images in the simulation. But now I’m digressing. Point is, this project offers an incredible look at the immediate aftermath of earthquake and has been skillfully put together. Spend some time with it, and let them know what you think.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.