相片中的这个人叫安迪•万迪拉克，他在纽约布鲁克林的公园坡开了一家名叫Two Boots Pizza的披萨店。桑迪飓风袭击纽约的那天，他让在店里表演的乐师把全家人都带到他那里躲避这场天灾。乐师向安迪描述了飓风过后的惨状，于是安迪决心“做饭报国”。他用Facebook和Twitter向披萨店的老主顾们请求帮助。到了那周周末，他每天已经可以向灾民提供大约1,500碗汤了。
对于任何救灾活动来说，这种高尚的志愿行为都是非常重要的。不过“桑迪”飓风却让我们看到，社交网络技术如何能让安迪的小小善举迅速取得一呼百应的效果。比如有一个叫“占领桑迪”的活动就吸引了不少人的关注，它是由“占领华尔街运动”衍生而来的。“占领桑迪”是一个松散的志愿者组织，志愿者们利用网络和移动设备，呼吁为灾民提供食物和生活用品。除了“占领桑迪”之外，还有许多个人也自发地在网络阵地上树起大旗，成为组织救灾的急先锋。比如我最近就在Facebook上关注了几个与救灾有关的群组，包括“大家帮助大家”（“Nobodys Helping Everybody”，168个关注）、“回报桑迪飓风灾民”（"Giving Back to those Affected by Sandy" ，3,975个关注）、以及“罗卡韦救灾”（“Rockaway Relief”，9,311个关注）等。
Here's to Andy Wandilak, the owner of Two Boots Pizza in Park Slope Brooklyn. On the day Hurricane Sandy decimated entire neighborhoods of New York, he offered to feed and shelter the family of a musician who plays at his restaurant. The guy's descriptions of the storm's aftermath were tragic. So Andy started cooking. He used Facebook and Twitter to ask the restaurant's patrons for support. By the weekend, he was serving up roughly 1,500 cups of soup daily.
This kind of superhuman volunteering has always been central to any relief effort, but Hurricane Sandy has showcased how social technologies can cause Andy's small initiative to scale quickly. Ad hoc relief efforts like Occupy Sandy have attracted attention for this already. An outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Occupy Sandy is a loosely organized group of activists-turned-volunteers who have been using the web and mobile devices to bring food, supplies and help to people in need. But beyond Occupy, there are many individuals who have stuck a flag in the digital sand and declared themselves the captains of relief efforts. Facebook groups I have recently "liked" include "Nobodys Helping Everybody" (168 likes), "Rockaway Relief" (9,311 likes), and "Giving Back to those Affected by Sandy" (3,975 likes).
In the hours after the floods subsided last month, there's no question these social technologies enabled fast efficient communication. The New York City Fire Department turned to Twitter to help identify emergency needs. Displaced people turned to Airbnb to find beds, which New York Airbnb hosts volunteered to share free of charge. Heck, my sister, having heard from a friend that a nearby shelter was underserved, updated her Facebook (FB) status that she planned to make a trip down and an hour later, she had 20 bags of coats and toiletries and two lasagnas to bring.
But social media has downsides, too. Now that Facebook and Instagram have made documentarians of everyone with a smartphone, Hurricane Sandy may have spawned the most documented disaster relief effort of all time. There's one boat in the middle of the street somewhere in the Rockaways that shows up on my Facebook feed nearly every single day, snapped by a different friend of a friend. But more transparency doesn't equal more accuracy; in fact, just the opposite. A captivating image can become an Internet meme regardless of its veracity, while less compelling images are overlooked. And the Internet is not yet great at giving context to any event that doesn't happen in realtime. In a fast-moving relief effort, a Wednesday morning image could have changed drastically by Friday afternoon.