Current Events Web 2.0 Style


Late this morning I popped by Kelly’s office after leaving school with the hopes of meeting him briefly for lunch. Nearly as soon as I sat down in his office to wait for him to finish a conference call, he came running back in with news that Southern California was experiencing an earthquake. Since I knew I would be waiting just a tad bit longer than I had expected, I sat down in front of my computer and the three TV screens in his office to watch the event unfold. Below is a timeline of what I observed.

11:42am – Earthquake hit.

11:43am – After being notified by Kelly I start looking on the USGS Website to find out where the quake occurred and how strong it was – no data was on the site yet.

11:45 am – Since the USGS site didn’t have any information yet I headed over to Twitter Search to see what had been posted about the quake in Twitterverse. There were already 90 posts related to the shaking from all over the Los Angeles area. Users were posting shaky experiences at Disneyland and objects falling off of shelves.

11:47am – I returned to the USGS site and data had been posted. “Wow! A 5.6?” I thought to myself. Within a few minutes that number would change to 5.8 and then finally 5.4.

11:53am – Twitter Search informed me I have 354 posts that haven’t been read. I clicked refresh and within seconds more reports of the earthquake were floating down my screen. As I was reading scanning the tweets the number of unread posts at the top of the screen continued to grow.

11:53am – Right about this time I notice CNN is broadcasting information about the Los Angeles earthquake. It looked like they had been broadcasting for a couple of minutes, but I was too busy reading tweets to notice.

11:55am – I took a look at Twitter Search again. There were hundreds of new posts, but I noticed my first link to a blog post on the earthquake. Ironically, its called “Twitter and the Earthquake, Instant News.”

12:10pm – “I wonder if there is anything on Wikipedia yet?” Yep, sure enough there was a new page all about the 2008 Chino Hills Earthquake (although at this time it was the 2008 Los Angeles Earthquake) and based on the history tab it looked like it had been there for almost fifteen minutes and has had a few revisions.

12:19pm – “Anything in the LA Times?” Yep, there was a story and its already had 110 comments. As of 6:30pm there are over 900.

12:25pm – “How’s Twitter looking?” “OMG, I can’t even attempt to read all those.” More reports of shaking and I found a few hysterical tweets like this.

12:27pm – “I wonder if anyone has posted a photo on Flickr?” Here is the first picture I found. Throughout the day more were added and a Flickr Pool started.

Right about this time I had to leave my computer and network connection, but there were a few other places I wanted to check. One of them was YouTube. Taking a look tonight, I can see there are tons of videos being posted. Most of them are first person accounts of the shaking, but you can even find a few reality TV shows taping an episode during the shaking.

To most of us who a regular Web 2.0 users and creators I think that my timeline above is nothing shocking. However, for many other Internet users this information would be pretty interesting. The one thing I am really noticing, though, is the huge amounts of information and how its a bit difficult to channel it all into one place. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if during a current event or news story you could go to one place and see the thoughts, pictures, and video people experiencing the event first-hand are posting? Talk about connecting humans on every corner of the globe!


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