Saturday, November 29, 2008

Twitter's role controversial

Alexander Wolfe of Information Week notes that the police were concerned that the Tweeters might be giving away strategic information. Wolfe doubts that any info of use was given away.

The most important piece of information to come out of all of the Tweeting is that "official" journalism is no longer the best source for breaking news of this kind:

I'd add that Mumbai is likely to be viewed in hindsight as the first instance of the paradigmatic shift in crisis coverage: namely, journalists will henceforth no longer be the first to bring us information. Rather, they will be a conduit for the stream of images and video shot by a mix of amateurs and professionals on scene.

Mumbai Attack Aftermath Detailed, Tweet by Tweet

The Wired blog has a great post on how social media is providing some of the best current coverage coming out of the Mumbai massacres.

I'm often asked even by technophiles what purpose Twitter serves. This is just one example if its use in crises. I recently read that the American Red Cross also uses Twitter to provide updates to its network of volunteers.

I'm reminded of how in 1991 when Gorbachev was deposed in a temporary coup d'├ętat, Internet Relay Chat, aka "IRC", was used to relay information on the crisis since all television and radio in Russia had been shut down.