September 11, 2002 4:03 AM PDT

Web sites commemorate Sept. 11

Rob Fazio knows as well as anyone how difficult Sept. 11 will be this year. His father, Aon Re Worldwide employee Ronald Fazio, died in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

In the months after his father's death, Fazio and Jeff Garbutt, a longtime friend and New York City Police officer who scoured the rubble for victims' remains, constructed a Web site to help deal with their grief.

The Hold the Door Open for Others project, which provides information about coping with a loved one's death, not only aided the healing of its operators but also provided a resource for other victims' families.

Fazio named the project in honor of his father, who survivors say spent his final minutes rounding up colleagues, literally holding the door open so they could escape the burning building.

"I had a vision of doing something pretty big in honor of my dad," Fazio said of his site, where people can submit stories and download a free copy of his book, Living with Loss: A Journey Through Sept. 11.

As the nation memorializes Sept. 11 in ways both public and private, the medium that does interactivity best is becoming a natural destination for people who want to mark the anniversary of the attacks. In the past year, the Web has become a key place to communicate, commiserate and compile historical information surrounding the attacks.


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Soon after planes hit the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and another terrorist-hijacked plane crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside, the Web emerged as a lifeline for people looking to contact loved ones via e-mail or find the latest news.

In the year since then, Web sites of all types have surfaced, preserving information in multimedia formats, archiving personal accounts and spawning new communities. The Internet has allowed victims' families to connect and the public to help warehouse historical data.

Several sites are taking advantage of the Web as a living medium, providing interactive historical projects that allow people to submit their stories on an ongoing basis.

Archives and memorials
One of the most ambitious is the Sept. 11 Digital Archive, a massive compilation of pictures, images and accounts of life immediately before, during and after the attacks. The site contains a montage of information gathered from experts and the general public, including amateur photos of ground zero, Sept. 11 e-mails from New York residents telling relatives they're safe, eyewitness accounts from the Pentagon and videos of Arab-American reaction to the attacks.

Another of these, the Sonic Memorial Project, is accepting submissions from people who have recordings, memories or thoughts about Sept. 11 and the World Trade Center. The site, a joint project of National Public Radio's Lost and Found Sound and new media documentary company Picture Projects, has been collecting accounts from radio producers and the public, compiling them in a searchable database.

"People can listen or read, but they can also contribute," said Alison Cornyn, a Picture Projects partner. "It will be this archival resource, a map of our time."

So far, the site has gathered a slew of accounts, ranging from eyewitness recollections of Manhattan on Sept. 11 to videos from weddings at Windows on the World. Included in the archives are phone messages from attack survivors telling loved ones they're safe, and a public radio interview with a fireman who later died in the attacks.

Another ongoing site is the GroundZeroCam, which depicts a live broadcast from the site of the World Trade Center.

Sept. 11 spawned a passel of blogs, where people can express grief, seek out nuggets of information not reported by the mainstream press or just try to deal with the enormity of the attacks' aftermath.

The Web also is playing a role in preserving history. Mainstream news sites, of course, have been busy compiling historical records of attacks, the moments preceding the event and the aftermath.

News.com coverage
from Sept. 11, 2001


Tech world mourns loss of employees

Researchers build Web archive of attacks

Net offers lifeline to loved ones

Spam, misinformation in wake of tragedy

Computer recovery companies go to work

E-mail a savior amid anthrax scare

Companies rethink Net privacy after attacks

H-1B workers wary of terrorist backlash

One of the most impressive and emotional is The New York Times' 102 Minutes. The Web site is a print, photo and audio collection of accounts from the final minutes of the World Trade Center towers, compiled from e-mails, voice mails and conversations that victims' families shared with reporters. The site tells how Cantor Fitzgerald employees threw computers out of windows in an attempt to get breathable air into the building, and how one trapped man asked his colleagues for their relatives' phone numbers, so he could ask his wife to call them.

Other standouts include USA Today's interactive graphics explaining the collapse of the trade center towers; The Washington Post's "10 Days in September" site that examines the Bush administration's reaction to the attacks; and PBS's Inside the Terror Network documentary, an in-depth, interactive look at al-Qaida and the lives of hijackers, which includes documents such as the hijackers' "instructions for the last night" and parts of an al-Qaida training manual.

Newsday's "The Chaos and the Courage" preserved radio transmissions from rescue workers.

Preserving history
Several sites have archived news coverage from the day of the attacks, an attempt to preserve historical evidence amid the ephemeral world of the Web. Swiss publishing company Interactive Publishing depicts home pages from news sites around the world from Sept. 11 and Sept. 12.

Poynter Institute has preserved the front pages of print newspapers that appeared immediately after the attacks, and the Television Archive is keeping an archive of video pieces, including the networks' morning shows as anchors learned that a first plane, and then a second, had hit the World Trade Center.

Information and memorial sites are expected to be popular destinations on Sept. 11. YouWillNeverBeForgotten.com lets people post testimonials and pay tribute to victims. Legacy.com provides links to victims' obituaries. Familiesofseptember11.com provides victims' families with news and information. It's also conducting campaigns to convince Congress to further investigate the attacks and the media to stop showing violent footage from Sept. 11.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is providing a directory of local events in each city. Religious sites of all denominations are listing local memorial services. Community newspapers including the Tribeca Trib and the Downtown Express provide a local slant to memorial events and the recovery process.

Tech companies also are planning to commemorate Sept. 11 in various ways. America Online and Microsoft will provide links to Sept. 11 news and discussions. Hewlett-Packard has sponsored GiveThanksAmerica.com, through which people can send digital videos to military and rescue personnel. HP also says it will not engage in public relations activities on Sept. 11. And Yahoo has posted a special site that will allow people to contribute images and accounts through Sept. 12.

 

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