Friday, March 25, 2011

Fifth birthdays, the earthquake, and why I love Twitter

Twitter is celebrating its birthday this week, and as an adjunct to my previous post, I thought I'd jot down how useful I found social media during the earthquake in Tokyo.

The evening of Friday the 11th of March was spent darting between my hotel room to watch the ever-sensationalist CNN, and the hotel lobby where I used the wifi to stay abreast of what was being said on Twitter. TimeOut Tokyo did an incredible job of updating English-speakers on the situation as it turned from an earthquake into a tsunami, and then to a nuclear crisis. Their updates were fact-based, without sounding like an automated news service.

Twitter was invaluable during this time for information, and it was a relief to be able to access Facebook and update friends and family back home that I had not been crushed in a stampede of people, nor disappeared into a crevasse in the ground.

Without Twitter I would have had access to CNN, true - but I didn't want to listen to the event unfold through the lens of an American news station. For example, when it was announced that a tsunami might strike the west coast of America, a significant portion of the coverage shifted back to the States. and reporters began showing webcams of Hawaiian beaches, with waves crashing in the dark. 

Twitter allowed me to choose who I wanted to trust as my information source. As the nuclear situation developed, this included a number of scientists and a food blogger with the Twitter tag @Makiwi.

Since returning home, these Twitter accounts have enabled me to stay in touch with what is happening on the ground in a manner that was unthinkable just a few years ago. I can read blogs such as Shoot Tokyo and see what's left on the shelves at the local Family Mart. I can learn that parents should avoid letting their children drink tapwater in Tokyo due to unusually high levels of iodine.

The online communities we engage with can suck up a lot of our free time, but when push comes to shove, they can reward us in the most unexpected manner.

So thanks Twitterverse - and happy fifth birthday!


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2 comments:

  1. A great blogpost hun - what particularly resonated was how Twitter gives you the choice to choose your news source. I was at an audit conference this week where Stephen Mayne (founder of Crikey.com and @MayneReport) talked about this also and that how as many "bad" voices there are on Twitter, there could be just as many good ones. Rather than real world where our newspapers/tv channels are somewhat skewed...

    PS: and most of all, glad that you are safe and could play at frivolous fashion fest. X

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  2. @BusiChic - thanks my dear! Yes, I think this is really an interesting debate that is only just beginning. Only time will tell how the established media agencies react to the trend. (And wasn't LMFF lovely? One of the most enjoyable festivals yet.) xx

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