Sharing information quickly: that’s a basic aspect of blogging or any other new social interactive media. A good example of the positive possibilities of such a rapid dispersal of data comes from Jim Groom, who is an instructional-technology specialist and adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington. He was attending a presentation at the University of Richmond when suddenly, the campus experienced a lockdown after a report that a gunman had been sighted at the library. At the time Groom was in a basement room and could not get a cell phone signal–he could however twitter, the short-blog format venue where you can quickly upload 140 character messages.

He describes his twitter “tweets” in his blog after the events…

“I had no internet access on my laptop, and asked Tom to log me into a UR computer so that I could get a sense what was going on. I went immediately to Twitter, as did several other folks from UR who were holed up in a different computer lab. It was bizarre gauging what was going on through their tweets, almost a sixth sense. Soon enough, I started tweeting what was going on in the room (as did others) , and I found the act to be really soothing. People at UR were sharing information and giving advice to one another, while the larger network from around the world was sending regards, prayers, questions, and their well wishes. I had a very powerful sense that those “others” were there with us from beyond that lab, or even the UR campus. I can’t fully explain why that felt so good, someone even offered a Safety dance from abroad, nothing like a laugh during a moment of untold strangeness.”

The opportunities for people to twitter during emergences are obvious. The problem will be, of course, trying to figure out signal from noise, that is, what data are accurate versus inaccurate or worse, disinformation.

Political candidates are twittering their calendars with short comments: Here is Barack Obama’s Twitter page.

Originally posted June 7, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

Leave a Reply