Gatekept on Mefi!

taz, seriously, I love you. But I guess I will post here instead, if I want to take well intended and reasonable editorial guidance. Or even if I don’t.

The Tohoku quake, tsunami, and the subsequent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were fundamentally catalytic events in my relationship to the internet. The threads at Metafilter about the nuclear plant were revelatory to me both in the power of crowd-sourced research online and the inadequacy of contemporary international journalism.

In the end, I came away with what is apparently an unflagging interest in Japanese baseball (an outcome which mystifies me no less than others) and a profoundly negative long term view of the likely outcome of more internet and fewer reporters.

In those threads, well before the first hydrogen explosion at the plants, we identified the potential hazard of a waste-fuel fire based on evaporation of coolant and the total potential fuel load on the four plants. The possibility of an uncontrolled release of radioactivity that in some ways could have exceeded Chernobyl was very real. We also learned that the utility had a track record of releasing inaccurate information in the past. All of this was developed from independent and reputable nuclear industry sources and TEPCO’s own pre-tsunami reporting in combination with the thin and misleading data the utility released during the events.

None of this crowd sourced analysis was picked up, which surprised me, as MetaFilter has a deserved rep as a story idea mine. Of course the threads were several thousand posts deep and I recall they taxed my browser mightily. But still. We were clearly on track to identify the hydrogen explosion problem but the chemicals got there first.

Anyway, after that terrifying month I decided I needed to spend less time on MetaFilter. After that, Google destroyed Reader’s sharing function and then I decided that leaving Facebook and Twitter were good ideas too. Eventually I reactivated Facebook, but I drop in pretty rarely, like once a month.

So Tohoku’s long term effects, for me, include the midlife development of an appreciation for baseball and a much less socially interactive experience of the internet. Which, all in all, is fine. I suppose I should make more of an effort to engage in non-Internet social activity, but DAMN I like not being around people.