Like Ushahidi, Oil Reporter is a new way for people to log "reports" on the many impacts of the Gulf oil spill ... now via their smart phones. It's a free app and the goal is to grow the body of crowdsourced documentation for what many are calling the worst environmental disaster in history.
A simple screen asks you "What do you see?" with three main variables — thickness of oil visible, wildlife present, wetlands impact — and the opportunity to write your own report. The reports are collected on a Web page external to the app, which makes the app less interesting than I thought it would be. It also has a page with links to volunteer opportunities but again, those are all hosted on external websites.
It strikes me that in some way, despite BP's massive media cover-up, this may turn out to be the best documented environmental disaster of all time. Not just through cool new tools like Oil Reporter and Ushahidi, but through an agglomeration or "living document," if you will, assembled from a myriad of Facebook discussions, Flickr photos, and YouTube videos. In total, these shards of evidence may one day make for a pretty hefty "Exhibit A" if and when the time comes for BP to strand trial.
Here's one of the latest ± Phillipe Cousteau's visit inside an oil plume which shows just how nightmarishly stupid it was to use these toxic dispersants. Instead of allowing the oil to come to the surface (where it would require significantly more booms and operators to handle) BP kept it sub-surface where it would cause infinitely more harm: