The earthquake that struck Japan on 11 March, followed by a tsunami and a nuclear crisis has prompted a significant solidarity in social networks. Thousands of blogs have built up a global support network for notifying family, collect donations and form rescue missions. An incoming initiative appeared on social networks to alleviate the suffering of victims: Quakebook.
Quakebook is a moving collective work created based on photos, news, tweets and thinking of thousands of users on the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 11 March. The creator, a British teacher living in Japan, which prefers to keep his identity secret to preserve the community spirit, work on Twitter, under the pseudonym @ OurManInAbiko. The book will then be available in digital and printed form in few days. 9.99 dollars per book. And money from sales will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.
On Twitter, all testimonies that are going to be included in the Quakebook are gathered under the “# Quakebook” tag. Since the launch of the initiative, many people react through social networks to participate in the content, or to give its opinion on the project.
The history of the book began on March 18, 2011, when @ OurManInAbiko publishes on Twitter:
The British blogger opens his blog named “# Quakebook” in which he prepares himself and hopes to gather contributions from other surfers. He ensures that one day, the digital version of Quakebook will be available for download on this blog, by waiting for the printed version. Today, the blog offers us to buy a Quakebook or to contribute to future editions. It also offers some excerpts from the book.
The mysterious charitable man explains the users what is expected of them without knowing what would be the impacts.
Immediately, the idea is following. The same day, people are quick to ask @ ourmaninabiko to keep them a place in the Quakebook and hurry up to write their experiences.
Only 45 minutes passed before the first contribution. Shortly after talking about his idea, @ ourmaniabiko is invaded by retweets. The proposals are fast and plentiful. And the same day, more and more people are sending @ourmaniabiko some content. The project quickly reaches 74 submissions.
Noting the magnitude of the phenomenon, they decided together to assign the hashtag #quakebook to their project. From this moment, anyone who wishes to find tweets related to the book, may enter this reference code.
Many people who were on the place when the tragedy happened, began to send pictures and moving testimonies to the Quake-Blogger. Among them, Yuki Watanabe, born in Fukushima, is often cited by the Medias, because she has part of her family in the affected area and strongly testified her pain. While the book fills up quickly, good news comes. A literary agent in Tokyo agrees to publish the project as an e-book, only two days after the launch.
March 26, @ourmaninabiko announces on Twitter that a Facebook page dedicated to Quakebook has been created.
With 1’660 fans, the Facebook page classified as a non-profit organization, brings together a lot of information concerning the publication of the book and its content. It explains how to buy the book. It is mainly an advertisement for the Quakebook, but more a human than a commercial one, more charitable than gainful. The page appeals to people’s solidarity spirit.
This innovation seems to be very successful because it affects a large number of people who are located far from the drama and feel powerless and deeply moved by the disaster. Quakebook enables them to contribute to a general movement to help without leaving their couch, from their computer. And it makes people happy. This is a less tiring and more creative way for people to help the cause, rather than simply sending money.
In the end, 200 people were involved in the project, whether they known disasters from near or far. The story has grown as the echoes of Quakebook have passed into the media and the social networks. On YouTube, the project is also relayed. For example, a user named ToLokyo posted on 7 April, a short broadcast of him speaking about the Quakebook project, because he thought it had to be known by people.
And who posted a comment directly after the podcast’s publishing? @Ourmaninbiko, to thank ToLokyo for his initiative.
As we see, more the story progress, more the people are making themselves the marketing for the book by the mouth-to-ear through social networks. @Ourmaninbiko has then less to do to improve the book sales. To launch an idea of project on any social network seems to be a good marketing strategy to reach a lot of people, relaying the work of inform about the product to other users.
As we can see on comments, the video, with 289 views in 3 weeks, made a real positive react in the public.
But 4 days later, the mysterious man @Ourmanbiko who never shows himself except under the black silhouette of his Twitter’s Avatar, posted his own podcast on Youtube that summarizes the whole story of Quakebook, which is named “My fellow Abikonians… The story of Quakebook”. The man shows us the most important tweets he wrote to construct the project. The video reached quickly 1’110 views.
The first book 2.0 was finaly born on 31 march and make the drama take a human form. @Ourmaninbiko has been brillant by using social networks power to serve a good cause. He becomes a kind of superhero to those who follow him on the networks. This masked man holding a gun is now followed by 1,827 subscribers and has 13 731 tweets on his account.
We can now imagine that this first book created by the contribution of a large network of users will be followed by many others. And then, internet users who are already journalists, will soon become authors as well.