Strong Silent Types: Evil Robots and Their Way with Words

Spectacular meteor captured by eternally rolling Russian cameras wows Internet

This morning a huge meteor landed in the Urals region of Russia. It's too much of a cliche to point out that Twitter and YouTube were the best places to search for footage and information regarding the impact. 

Traditional media struggled for about an hour to add anything to an Associated Press news release which vaguely hinted at a meteor or meteors and the possibiliy that some local residents had been injured.

Through brute-searching Twitter and other sites I was able to find a selection of videos which captured the meteorite's approach in exquisite detail, and from several very different angles. Here are three which do the story justice:

I also found one which caught a driver's reaction to the explosion and another which provides some high quality footage of a building which seems to have been largely destroyed by the meteor.

Most of these videos were found by searching Twitter and YouTube for the Russian word for meteorite: метеорита.

It should be noted that so many videos of the meteor were available principally because Russians have an obsession with housing dashboard cameras in their vehicles. This is because hit-and-run incidents on Russia's often dangerous and extremely remote highways go unsolved by police. Victim drivers and passengers, in the event of a lack of evidence, are also rarely able to successfully claim compensation from insurance companies.

These cameras, in their hundreds of thousands, have effectively turned Russian drivers into eternal surveillance machines for meteorological and indeed astronomical events, among other phenomena.

The facility of constantly recording the world around us, rather than framing and documenting at specific points, is still developing but is something with which this digital generation will become all the more familiar in years to come.

"The facility of constantly recording the world around us, rather than framing and documenting at specific points, is still developing"

Google's Project Glass promises to achieve this, but products like the Vicon Revue already allow individuals to unthinkingly record every waking moment by intermittently capturing photographs of their day via a small camera worn around the user's neck.

It's worth thinking about how this will affect the aggregation and dissemination of media relating to news events. Wearers of live-rolling capture devices could simply observe the event themselves and upload the latest photographs / videos their device has recorded.

These uploads could automatically include timestamp and geographic location data to avoid hoaxes. (Someone posted this video of a naturally burning crater in Turkmenistan and claimed it was the Urals impact site).

I'd make sure to check out videos which capture the sound of the meteor's impact, too, by the way. It's an almighty crash and must have been quite deafening nearby.

One final thought: I love how this indistinct, massve and significant object from outer space crashed into the online news cycle. Its suddenness, and the scramble to document it from every possible angle, is the perfect metaphor for a culture which is addicted to documentation but which is still gasping for total coverage. 

Visually spectacular, and a ruthless force of nature to which we are nothing but subject, the meteorite reminds us that there is a beautiful overlap of curation and creation in what we all now do daily.

The sense of a news "story", something which happened elsewhere to someone else, but which is narrated by us, is exemplified in the activity of the Urals meteor event, now like any event - even the most trivial or commonplace. From this era on, we will record everything and the crowd's discourse alone will determine what is of value.

Reports suggested the great rock was intercepted by a Russian missile, hence the intensity of the pre-impact flash . Thus technology's role in the spectacular is direct, not simply as facilitator of spectation.

And nothing starts the morning better than a cataclysm unravelled with the machine-gun intensity of social media.

Russian dash cam owners, I salute you.

 

Update 15/02/13: The word "meteorite" in the headline and in a number of places within the text of this article was corrected to "meteor".

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