Web 2.0 in a Family Crisis

In the wee hours of Friday morning my cousin was in a car accident 1,000 miles from where I live. By that evening I had an email telling me about it. The next day I talked to family and offered the only thing I could: build a website for family to post updates so that my aunt didn’t have to tell the same story over and over and over.

Saturday night I shopped for domains while chatting with another cousin through FB. That same day a friend posted on my cousin’s FB wall that she had been in an accident.

Sunday we bought a domain and Peter brought up another WordPress instance. I created new email accounts for the editor accounts I needed. I wanted all the email to forward back to me, not my aunt. Some because she didn’t need the additional spam, some because she’s not blog savvy and I knew I was signing up to admin the site and some because I’m trying to protect my cousin’s anonymity to some degree, having generic emails on the site supports that goal.

By Sunday night an aunt was posting.

Monday morning I put a link to the site on Mary’s FB wall.

Monday afternoon another aunt decided a PayPal donate button is needed. All I have to do is go to PayPal’s site plug in some information and all the HTML will be generated for me. I’ll paste that HTML into a widget text box and voila, a donate button linked to an account at a financial institution that I’ve never been to.

Comments have started to come in. The blog has been up for 36 hours and word has spread.

We plan to extend the site to include a google calendar that will track all the people that want to bring food and offer help to the family; that’ll be maintained by a family friend.

My aunts can post updates without my intervention and without having to know how it works. The calendar can change and the site will stay up-to-date. People who want to help, want to do something now, can donate on the site.

No one has to be a web developer (I chose a WP theme that supports widgets). All of this is possible because of the interoperability of the web components. I don’t know how to write a shopping cart, or a calendar control, I don’t even have to know HTML, CSS or PHP. Yet we have a password-protected blog up and running with an easy to remember domain that will be the central point for Mary’s updates. It was mostly free too. We bought a domain and that’s it.

In ye olde days, how long would that have taken? It would have been a major time-consuming, expensive project by knowledgable, web-savvy people.

We would have resorted to a phone tree.

10 smart people left their mark:

  1. Kelly O, 9. December 2008, 9:26

    This post gave me chills. I’m sending good thoughts to you and your family. xoxo

    Kelly Os last blog post..NOT a flotation device

  2. melissaz, 9. December 2008, 10:41

    Well done! Have I mentioned how totally awesome you are for doing all of that? Cause ya are.

    melissazs last blog post..Monday Mission: Poetic Gifts

  3. Pamela, 9. December 2008, 11:37

    Good for you for finding a way to be there for your family when you’re not actually there. You’re a rockstar.

    How’s Mary today?

    Pamelas last blog post..super typer

  4. Nylonthread, 9. December 2008, 12:50

    A little can go a very, very long way in Web 2.0!! I’ve been lurking, but your family has been in my thoughts. I hope Mary gets better as quickly as her website went up.

  5. sher, 9. December 2008, 13:32

    wow. what a caring and wonderful person you are! don’t know details, but i hope your cousin is getting better and your family is all doing ok.

    and yes, it is amazing about this internet thing. when i was in the hospital two years ago, i was able to summon family and friends about my condition. people from my office, friends, people who barely knew me, rallied for me and for my family. some brought food and toys to my husband and kids while i was cooped up (on and off for two weeks.) i never, ever could have done that without this web thing. it sure makes you feel more effective and less alone when crises hit.

    sending healing thoughts!

  6. CathyC, 9. December 2008, 17:56

    I am so sorry to hear of your cousins accident. How horrible. I’m glad you were able to help your aunt keep your family in the loop so easily. I would not know how to start. I’ll pray for your cousin and for you for being a great cousin to her.

  7. Catherine, 9. December 2008, 22:36

    You’re all so nice, thank you. No more updates though. Family lawyer has put the ix-nay on the og-blay (which I warned them about because my very own HAWT legal eagle warned me). Even though it came to a screeching halt, I am glad it was me helping them and not some faceless corp. Public sites that are used for patient communications have a buyer beware user agreement. I wonder how many of those folks get bit in the arse?

  8. Chris, 10. December 2008, 21:37

    Sorry that the legals put an end to something that was so helpful (we can be annoying that way). Your cousin has been on my mind since I read the initial post and I just hope she and your family are hanging in there and my thoughts are with you all.

    Chriss last blog post..Internet- I seriously need your help. NOW

  9. Sara Lacey, 15. December 2008, 20:33

    I am so sad to hear of your cousin’s accident. But it is so reassuring for her and her folks to have someone like you (brilliant computer person AND loving cousin/niece) to help them through this.

    In case you need an alternative, I’ve used lotsahelpinghands.org to coordinate some meals and caregiving when needed for some family and friends.

  10. Abbey, 21. December 2008, 18:29

    Oh Dear…A Phone Tree? I didn’t even think those words were still circulating in the English language! ;)

    Abbeys last blog post..Getting Tired