The Earthquake felt through Twitter

If this experience does not illustrate the power of social media and how it is changing the way that we experience our lives, consume our news and share information – I don’t know what is. There was an Earthquake in Ontario just now that I did not feel – but heard about via Twitter only seconds after it happened.

With Twitter connections all over Ontario and the world commenting about their experiences, using a Twitter hashtag #earthquake created within seconds after the tremor – and a minimum of 100 tweets per minute coming in with accounts of the tremor experienced from Montreal to Buffalo and beyond – I am getting breaking news not from traditional news outlets but through the twitterverse.

The act of ‘tweeting‘ 140 character soundbites and Social media in general are rapidly affecting the way that we interact, and consume overall media and there is no debating that. I still hear many complaints that there is no measurable ‘ROI’ on spending time building and managing Social media spaces – but I would say specifically using this example to illustrate the way in which communications have changed that we have no choice but to embrace the medium.

Specifically, traditional media and PR professionals must adapt to using channels such as Twitter to gain back lost readers who would consume news traditionally through print, TV and radio. Also – media must participate to stay in the know of breaking news.

Journalists must also be aware of who the ‘influencers’ are within social media spaces – and they need to embrace Twitter as a way to guide the conversation and become the offical ‘voice’ around any major breaking story and not so much report it.

The Globe and Mail and CTV – both major news outlets in Canada were quick to jump into the conversation about the Earthquake – but they were no longer the source of the breaking news as it would have been in the past for news outlets such at CNN.

Many Canadian news giants engaged an already active Twittering community to gather newsworthly insights and facts as to how wide the Earthquake impact had been felt, its scale (reported at 5.5).   Globaltvnews even “twe-ported” (just made that up…sounded good) a mapping depiction of Tweets sent within 30 min after the quake was felt – and the tweet ‘report’ came in only 35 min after the quake.

News outlets making news of Twitter as a source for breaking news – how ironic is that?

I will continue to follow the #Earthquake hashtag as a trending topic now for the next few hours to see where the conversation goes from here – but I would guess that the very way in which the quake was experienced accross Ontario and into New York state via Twitter will be the real story told in the weeks to come.

The first Digital Olympic Winter Games – thanks Tweeters, Bloggers and Facebook users for the inside look

Chris Breikss Super Fan Vancouver Olympics 2010

Chris Breikss Super Fan Vancouver Olympics 2010

The newest chick in the coop has inspired me to get back to my Blogging roots as I have moved towards micro-blogging sound-bites on twitter instead of taking time to muse about all things online. Thanks Patti for a fantastic guest Blog entry this week and thanks for the kick in the butt to get blogging again!

I can’t help as a proud Canadian to reflect on Vancouver’s achievement in producing an amazing Winter Olympic Games. We were truly watching the first ever Digital Olympics with this one – and I am happy to say that I think that Canada was well prepared for all of the media channels that were watching this country for the 14 days of the games. It will be interesting to hear now how the traditional media outlets faired.

Although millions were glued to televisions as Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal for Canada in overtime against the US hockey team (could not help but mention that one – that would have been so un-Canadian) – I wonder how many millions also watched events via live streaming video, or through a twitter stream of Olympic athletes tweeting updates live from events, ceremonies and from the general festivities that surrounded the games.

It will be interesting to see also how many downloads there were of the Olympics iPhone Apps, and how many Flickr streams there will be posted by athletes and athletes families from inside the Olympics Village and other “behind the scenes” places.

I must say that viewing photos live from a hockey game such as this one of “a young russian hockey fan” posted by my friend and colleague Chris Breikss after Russia lost to team Canada. Chris enjoyed many an Olympic moment on behalf of 900 of his Facebook friends- and I enjoyed seeing updates live on my mobile facebook app from friends as they experienced some of the winning Olympics moments live.   It allowed me to feel like a participant in the stories like no television broadcast has ever been able to do.

Kudos to the organizers, to the city of Vancouver British Columbia, to the Canadian Tourism Commission, to the media and bloggers, the athletes – and to all of the fans who tweeted, posted, blogged and text messaged your experiences of the games…the first digital Olympics was a great success!

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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