Anniversary of 9/11 attack is calmer on the net

ON BLOGS

September 16, 2007|By ANDREW RATNER

Some Americans acknowledged last week that their raw emotions about the terrorist attack of six years ago had begun to fade.

That was especially evident in the billowy place known as the blogo-sphere.

Blogs barely existed on Sept. 11, 2001. The term had only been "invented" a few years earlier and the number of blogs, now past 100 million, wasn't significant enough to measure until months after the attack.

"Welcome to the age of the blog, where anyone with time, inclination and the right software can post a daily or even hourly journal on the Net," said a story in USA Today two weeks before 9/11 in a tone that reflected the relative novelty of the Internet much less the posting of Web journals. "It's raining chats and blogs," headlined another piece in the New Orleans Times-Picayune (before flood references there took on more dire meaning.)

If someone had left the planet in mid-2001 and returned last week to catch up through blogs, he'd probably be confused in trying to make sense of what had befallen the nation that day.

Various video posts on Google Video, YouTube and elsewhere reflected solemnity and the deep-rooted pain of loved ones lost. Photo-sharing sites carried many riveting images, particularly of the light-beam tribute at the site which was especially haunting through the mists of last Tuesday evening.

Partisan argument was in full force, which wasn't surprising since the Bush administration's response to 9-11 was to blogging what human growth hormone was to baseball.

Blognetnews.com, for example, which calls itself "the blogosphere's front page," led with an item from a political blog of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer about Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich's lone vote in Congress against a symbolic resolution to recognize Sept. 11. The presidential candidate from Ohio explained his dissenting vote by saying that Congress needed to acknowledge "the lies that took us into Iraq, the lies that keep us there, the lies that are being used to set the stage for war against Iran and the lies that have undermined our basic civil liberties here at home."

But perhaps most telling about the passage of six years was the humor and distraction that greeted the anniversary on the blogosphere. Even blogs emanating from Lower Manhattan seemed more fixated, in general, on real estate and Fashion Week.

Six years to the day after U.S. aviation was brought to a standstill, the most shared news report about air travel last Tuesday was that a woman was shamed by an airline for traveling in a miniskirt. And a new videotaped threat from the bearded madman who struck fear in Americans six years ago was viewed less than the videotape of the threat to Britney Spears' career from her latest performance.

There was some discussion posted on the blog compiler, boingboing.net, of whether a new toy figure of a cartoon suicide bomber was appropriate. And maybe oddest of all was the bubbly Busby Berkeley-style rendition of New York, New York that accompanied the developer's video of the newly released animation of what will be built at the site where the World Trace Center stood (http:--wtc.com/media/videos/s/animations?mid=0).

Maybe it was just the tin ear of a developer wearied by the task of redeveloping Ground Zero, but it may have also been one of many signs served up on blogs last week that the nation had moved beyond horror and mourning to a natural, if awkward, attempt at recovery.

andrew.ratner@baltsun.com

Andrew Ratner, a former technology reporter, is Today editor of The Sun.

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