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Web A Reliable Resource In Mumbai Madness

The reach of the Internet proved a reliable resource when madness took to the streets of Mumbai on Wednesday as new media allowed the world to look in on a city in crisis and receive real-time information from citizen journalists as events were first unfolding.

Before the sights and sounds of the attacks in Mumbai could be televised, cell phones and the Internet were abuzz, both in blogs and with images as the horror unfolded, reports Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

"What's important is to get a quick sense of what's happening," said social networking expert Gaurav Mishra. "One of the first real photographs of the scene was posted by somebody on Flickr."

Mishra maintained his own blog from the United States while his one-time hometown was under siege.

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"People are sharing quick, small pieces of information of what's happening on the ground, helping others who are not linked to what is happening," Mishra said.

Citizen journalists close to the scene were able to text what was happening, while it was happening through micro-blogging sites like Twitter, while the location of terrorist targets were mapped online by Google.

Emergency information was posted on various blogs to help residents and relatives find hospitals and places to donate blood.

Pearl Shah lives near Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel, which was in flames and held by gunmen for two days. She spoke to CBS News through a Webcam about the moments immediately following the attacks.

"The internet was absolutely brilliant for information, especially because I couldn't watch television," Shah said.

Like many of Mumbai's residents Shah relied on the Web to search and share information -- information first reported by the citizen journalists using the valuable tools of new media.

"What citizen journalism does is widen the scope of what it means to be a journalist," Mishra said. "It has given new voices to mainstream media and gives new options of how to collect news, how to create news and how to disseminate news."

This is the second time citizen journalists proved invaluable to India's residents. Four years ago new media reports kept people informed after a tsunami devastated parts of the country.

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