The China Quake – The day that Twitter became THE Breaking News tool

From “From the Frontline“:

The BBCs Rory Cellan-Jones wonders whether Twitter has come of age with the earthquake that struck Sichuan province in China this morning,

Let’s see, as this story unfolds, whether this is the moment when Twitter comes of age as a platform which can bring faster coverage of a major news event than traditional media, while allowing participants and onlookers to share their experiences. link

I didn’t know anything about the earthquake until I picked up on a (private) tweet from Rebecca Mackinnon in Hong Kong. A quick blast through Twitter using Tweetscan and it soon became clear the Tweetsphere was abuzz with chatter and information sharing about the earthquake. It also became clear news was coming out quicker on Twitter than by more established means. Some pictures appeared on Flickr within an hour of the quake. Meanwhile Robin Hamman points me to a tool that automatically translateswhat Chinese Twitterers are saying about the earthquake.

There is more – Here is Reuters telling the story of how Dave Winer broke the Virginia earthquake story on twitter.

At about 1:37 pm, software developer Dave Winer asked the Twitterverse: “Explosion in Falls Church, VA?” (Perhaps not coincidentally, Winer is a well-known blogger and podcasting evangelist). A flurry of posts, or “tweets,” followed, as users reported rumbles as far away as Alexandria.

The mainstream media entered the fray at 2:33 pm, with radio stationWTOP reporting ground rumblings throughout Northern Virginia, citing a possible earthquake. Officials also told the radio station that the rumblings were part of construction blasts at nearby Ft. Belvoir, which had been scheduled for later in the afternoon as part of a new building for theNational Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Twitter users continued to pile on, pointing out data from the Maryland Geological Survey and adding their own commentary. Twitterer DataGwrote: “After the ‘Falls Church explosion’ event that was covered on Twitter, I saw the value in having a Twitter account at-the-ready.”

By 2:56 pm — nearly 90 minutes after Winer’s initial alert — WTOP had the official word from the U.S. Geological Survey: A not-exactly-massive 1.8 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near Annandale, VA.

The “Falls Church Incident” was earthshaking only in the most literal sense, but it is an interesting proof of concept that news can be broken on Twitter. Reuters is looking at ways to use Twitter in the newsroom, althoughour feed is currently under renovation.

Twitter – the new AP – no cost – high impact (Thanks to Scoble for the links)

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