Social networking and breaking news

Social networking again proved its worth last night, when within seconds of the Melbourne Earthquake, there were tweets and Facebook statuses galore as people from around Victoria reported in with their own experiences.

This quickly gave us all a picture of what had happened, which was just as well, because the media took quite a bit before they posted anything. The first I saw was a tweet from the ABC. Their potential delay could have been because the Geosciences Australia website had also crashed and so there was no official information available about the quake. However, some enterprising tweeter looked it up on the US Geological Services site and so we had an idea of the magnitude, location and how widespread it was felt, long before any official word came out from anywhere.

What was even more surprising and amusing, was that 10 minutes later, still before we had found any official word on what happened, the jokes, images and funny comments were coming thick and fast. My favourites included:

and a tweet from the University of Melbourne, which went along the lines of “its the first time some of our books have moved on shelf for years!”.

I don’t use Twitter as much as I would like these days, as I am working full-time and the nature of my work doesn’t give me time to access it.  However, its things like this that remind me that there is more to social networking than reading about what someone had for lunch and that there is good reason why I am still in that sphere.