This week I am in Manchester for the Institutional Web Management Workshop 2005 (aka IWMW 2005). There are people here from institutions and businesses all over the country, including London.

When we got news of the bombings, the atmosphere changed dramatically. Some of the people we were with would normally have been on the trains which were targetted and couldn't get in touch with their friends and families, due to the phone networks being down.

The spirit of this conference is about harnessing web technologies to their fullest, and so with little alternative, we got to work looking into what the various web communities were up to in terms of disseminating information about the events.

I was very impressed with some of the coverage that was taking place on wikipedia: an army of people were collecting facts, theories and conjecture from all over the place and pooling it together. It was largely self-regulating: people debated the incusion of death-toll statistics which were mostly made up, and there was a lot of resistence towards calling it a terrorist attack unequivocally before an official announcement was made.

Via wikipedia, we found a german news site which had a translation (from arabic into, alas, german) of the letter claiming responsibility. I think the BBC had the letter at this point but refused to publish it before it was authenticated. However it was something, and we knocked out a rough translation of the german between ourselves several hours before the mainstream english media revealed it.

Also via wikipedia, I tried to find out if there was any coordinated effort to get word of the injured and the dead to their families and friends, although unfortunately nothing came of it.

This morning, most of the pictures and videos that appear to be available are amateur things of the events were from people's mobile phones and digital cameras. It's really given me a sense of what it might have been like to be thrown into that situation.