Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Year Anniversary: The Gulf Oil Spill

One year ago today, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. The explosion killed 11 men, injured 17, and sank the rig. The deepest, most long-lasting outcome of the mishap, however, was the sea-floor oil gusher that started leaking oil into the ocean. After several attempts, the spill was finally effectively capped on July 15, 2010.

The consequences of the Gulf oil spill range from economic to ecologic, and effects on health, fishing, and tourism. Legislative efforts and public reactions also followed. The various documenting efforts include recording the impact of the event in the lives of the Gulf area residents.

The new media allow us great new ways to record history as it happens and the reactions of so-called ordinary people. For example, Bridge the Gulf, a citizen journalism and new-media initiative, conveys the residents' stories and their vision for the future of Gulf Coast communities. The Southern Oral History Program in the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina conducted a small series of interviews to begin the work of documenting the human effects of the oil spill. They have published a selection of oil spill stories on Tumblr. Historians of the future will surely find a rich source of primary materials among these and other similar collections.

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