First, I would like to say that what has happened in London is a complete tragedy. Whatever s**thead organization that did this needs to be drawn and quartered. Or turned into a glowing hole in the ground. Violence begets violence, whatever.
I am completely amazed at how blogs, flickr, technorati and wikipedia have provided coverage of this event. It's a testament to how well these social systems work. I went to CNN long enough to not be satisfied with the content. I went to Google News, but only got the same Reuters crap. Then I was sent a link for the London bomb pool for Flickr, which showed me pictures of the tragedy and the famous double-decker bus that the media kept mentioning. Which was totally ripped to shreds, horrible. Then I hit up Technorati for 'London' and read Londoner's blogs on the subject, a great number of which had been affected by the event. Then I hit up the Wikipedia article, which was marked as a 'current event - information may change rapidly'. And it was, at a rate of 4.17 edits per minute (2 hour average around lunchtime yesterday). Totally incredible that I got this much coverage without really checking out mainstream news channels. The "blogosphere" has been on my critical systems for communication map for a while, but Flickr just stepped into place along side it.
Back on 9/11, I calmly drove to work that day, talked to my co-workers who were trying to set up cable so we could check out CNN. I browsed Slashdot and found a few links to digital cams and digital pics that New Yorkers had put up of the event. At one point, I found someone who had a big directory of all the images that they had found and more were popping in by the minute. But it was instantly killed by huge amounts of traffic. A mirror popped up, I quickly mirrored it locally and provided everyone at work with the coverage of the event we couldn't get on CNN's site, thru the TV or other 'hub and spoke' style media outlets. If we had Flickr, Technorati and if blogs were more prolific back then, it would have been vasly easier to get the 'news' when we all needed to see it. It's apparent to me now more than ever that the mainstream media will be relied on less and less as enabling software becomes more and more popular.