Sep 11, 2006

[The Web] The Marks of 9/11

September 11, 2001 was one of the most shocking and memorable days in modern human history. This was the day that terrorism truly became a household world and everyone changed the way they thought about it. No longer was terrorism the thing of far off play soldiers calling for their respective causes - it was no longer something remote and distant from anyone. Terrorism became so real in the time after 9/11 that everybody was changed somehow.

I remember seeing the first scattered reports of the attacks on the World Trade Center 5 years ago. It was Monday night here in the Philippines and I was stunned at what I was seeing. No one was sure what had happened at first but when it was confirmed that a plane had indeeed hit the building, then I knew that things would never be the same. I think of a lot of people sharing the screen with me felt similarly.

To mark the anniversary of that tragic day, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the world remembers September 11. Let's take a look, shall we?

I'm starting with two basic Google web searches first - [September 11] and [9/11] to see what comes up for both. Surprisingly, one website stands out as the top search result for for both parameters: a site called September 11 (

The site is pretty much all abou the event from a news reporting perspective as it tries to collate every piece of information publicly reported about the terrorist attacks on the day ranging from web archives of the news from that day all the way to claims of images of faces in the smoke. I can see now why this site became the top site over the years for 9/11 information.

Of course, for both results the official Wikipedia article on the attacks (,_2001_attacks) is not too far behind given the relative popularity of the social encyclopedia service. It also provides anyone with a pretty comprehensive reporting on what happened on that day along with everything afterwards like the plans for the memorial for the victims along with the new World Trade Center.

Another popular result for both keyword phrases is The September 11 Digital Archive (, which is similar in tone to September 11 but perhaps cleaner-looking, in my opinion, and better organized. Rather than subdividing things on the front page, it keeps your options in genral terms on the lefthand sidebar so you know exactly where to find everything. What I also liked about it is the detailed Guide to Websites, which walks you through other pages of interest. It definitely has the feel of a more sponsored and organized initiative although it will take me a fair amount of time to verify which of the two have better information for the reader, should I ever decide to take time to do just that.

A nice item on the list is CNN's September 11 Memorial page (, which is a comprehensive list of everyone who either died or went missing on that day. You can go through the memorial in a variety of ways such as by name, employment or where they were on 9/11, which is very useful for anyone wanting to see how their loved ones have been honored.

Now between the two searches, you'll notice one of the major differences is that the [9/11] results also include a lot of links to more controversial conspiracy theory sites like 9-11 Research (, which claims to document an independent investigation into the events of 9/11 in order to reveal the "truth" about the attacks being a hoax. While I don't think all of the attacks were faked per se, if I may make any stand on this particular interpretation of the events on that day, although I do think there are certain things that are unusual that require further scrutiny. Along with this site are two others of similar tones, namely ( and Reopen 9/11 (, which also contribute their opinions on the issue and how the US Government should be held accountable for the nearly 3,000 people who died on that day.

Another member of the top ten results is Loose Change 2nd Edition (, a site for a particularly striking independent film that also documents the various conspiracy theories and why they feel the attacks were organized by the government. If you run a search for [loose change], you'll see that the people behind this website have also uploaded their entire documentary to Google Video in case you want to see. The film does raise some interesting questions although I'm not too confident in terms of every single piece of evidence.

To balance things out, you'll also find a link to the Screw Loose Change blog ( that seeks to challenge the conspiracy theorists. Given the search results thus far, it does appear that the conspiracy theorists have somewhat greater internet presence given their pages come up higher than those who seek to oppose them. This does not make their research all the more credible, let me remind you. All it means is that we're searching and linking to these pages more, perhaps because controversy is always interesting, wouldn't you agree?

It's a bit weird, I suppose. While on TV right now they're showing various documentaries along with news coverage of the various memorial services, on the web this is what's waiting for you, a mix of the serious and the unusual. I guess that just goes to show how free and dynamic the internet can be. Everyone's opinion can be represented and all it takes is a striking enough idea, even such as those of the conspiracy theorists, to gain some level of popularity. Google tends to just reflect those popularity waves and trends based on what becomes the most relevant result on their pages.

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