Virtual Memorial, MySpace Pages Help VT Mourners Cope Online

Also, links to collections of photos, college newspaper reports, blog accounts.

Though it’s been more than 24 hours since the final shots rang out on the campus of Virginia Tech, the seismic waves of shock and horror that coursed through Blacksburg — and the rest of the world — still feel as real as they did Monday morning.

(See Matt Sunbulli talk about how the VT tragedy was represented in blogs and memorial Web pages, right here.)

And while VT officials are slowly beginning to release details about the shootings (see “Virginia Tech Gunman Was 23-Year-Old Student” ), those tiny bits of information — a gunman described as a “loner,” a pair of firearms — do little to assuage fears and mend broken hearts. In fact, they only raise more questions. Chief among them: Why?

That’s the question being asked most frequently by student bloggers, campus reporters and citizens of virtual worlds as those who lost loved ones, attended Virginia Tech or were just left aghast by the tragedies try to make sense of just why all this had to happen.

One day after making international headlines with their unfettered, unfiltered coverage of the shootings, these “new journalists” are now looking to pick up the pieces, to remember the dead and share their stories of survival with the rest of the world (see “On Campus At Virginia Tech: ‘Eventually, We’ll Pull Through This Together’ “ and “Gunshots ‘Sounded Like A Hammer’: Virginia Tech Students Speak About Shootings” ). The events of Monday morning are beyond comprehension, but it’s commendable to watch the MySpace Generation pour its heart and soul into trying to do just that.

The links below represent the truth — as difficult, frightening and unpleasant as it might be. Some of the language might be rough, some of the accusations unfounded, but in order to give you a more in-depth look at just how this tragedy has affected those near and far from the Virginia Tech campus, we’ve collected some of them for you. (To view any Facebook content, you must have an account with the site.)

(Caution: Some content may be graphic.)

» Ohio State University’s The Lantern has established a syndicated news feed linking to reports, videos and podcasts published by other campus newspapers in the hours following the shootings.

» The West Virginia Blogger has begun to collect links to the personal Web sites of the deceased, meant as a way of paying tribute, writing, “It’s one thing to hear a list of names on TV, or read them online, but if you take a second to view a bit of the person’s personal life, it will give you a deeper understanding of that person.”

» A Virginia Tech student named Cody wrote a LiveJournal account of his day on campus and mentions that he had friends who lived in VT’s West Ambler Johnston dormitory, where the shootings began.

» Another VT student updated her LJ blog both Monday morning, while she was “under lockdown” in her dorm room, and again Monday night, trying to cope with the aftermath of the shooting.

» The Facebook group “I’m OK at VT” originally served as a place for members to let their loved ones know they were safe following the shootings. It has since become an in-progress memorial for those killed, including links to YouTube tributes and other forums where students can leave their condolences, like VTTragedy.com and VTIncident.com.

» Citizens of the virtual world Second Life have established an ever-growing memorial to the victims where visitors can leave virtual notes and flowers.

» The creators of OneDayBlogSilence.com are looking to April 30 as a day of silence in the blogosphere to pay tribute to the 33 who died in Blacksburg.

» The constantly expanding Wikipedia site about the incident.

» The Flickr group dedicated to collecting images from the shooting.

» A collection of pictures taken by a photographer who has been asking people on the Eastern Carolina University campus to hold up a sign that reads “VT – ECU Is Thinking of You.”

» The Vox blog of a Virginia Tech Ph.D. student who was on lockdown in her office during the shootings.

» Reporters for The Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s on-campus newspaper, started keeping a blog after the publication’s Web page crashed. The site contains stories from VT students, plus photos taken from inside classrooms on campus.

» This LiveJournal blog is written by a VT student named “Paul.” His girlfriend was wounded in Norris Hall and received treatment at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg.

» Another student’s LJ blog, this one written by “Bryce,” who was on campus while the shootings took place.

» A MySpace account written by a VT student who was on campus at the Schiffert Health Center when the shootings began.

» One of several discussion groups on Facebook dedicated to presenting first-person accounts of the events on VT’s campus.

» The Virginia Tech MySpace page, on which users from around the country are showing their support through messages.

» A collection of e-mails from resident advisers and the university advising students to stay indoors.

[This story was originally published at 6:59 pm E.T. on 04.16.2007]

Share your thoughts on the horrific event and see other readers’ reactions in You Tell Us. Plus, see all our coverage of the campus tragedy here.