Twittering the earthquake in China

BBC: Twitter and the China earthquake.

I reported the major quake to my followers on Twitter before the USGS Website had a report up and about an hour before CNN or major press started talking about it. Now there’s lots of info over on Google News.

How did I do that? Well, I was watching Twitter on Google Talk. Several people in China reported to me they felt the quake WHILE IT WAS GOING ON!!!

Over the next two hours I pointed at anyone who had info about the quake on my Twitter account.

It’s amazing the kind of news you can learn by being on Twitter and the connections you can make among people across the world.

I fear a large casualty loss. The epicenter was 50 miles from Chengdu, which has about 10.5 million residents. Already reports are coming across of buildings that have been knocked down.

dtan was the first Twitterer I saw talking about the quake. This was my first post in reaction to him.

UPDATE: Online Journalism Blog has a lot more details about what happened on Twitter tonight. From the Frontline blog has even more.

UPDATE2: Global Voices Online has links to videos and other Twitter and blog reports.

UPDATE3: here’s a timeline of what first Tweets looked like.

Comments

  1. [...] Quake in China BBC: Twitter and the China earthquake. I reported the Twitter quake to my followers before the USGS Website had a report up.How did I do that? Well, I was watching Twitter on Google Talk. Several people in China reported to me they felt the quake WHILE IT WAS GOING ON!!! Over the next two hours I pointed at anyone who had info about the quake on my Twitter account. It’s amazing the kind of news you can learn by being on Twitter and the connections you can make among people across the world. [...]

  2. The blog post has been updated and added to quite a few times since you linked, including a reference to your own link and being part of the conversation. Thanks again.

  3. The blog post has been updated and added to quite a few times since you linked, including a reference to your own link and being part of the conversation. Thanks again.

  4. Mahalo for keeping me informed of the Earthquake in China alerts as they were happening Robert. IT was very informative being able to be connected, and making sure I didn’t have to worry about Tsunami here in Hawaii.

    I posted the highlights on Entrepreneur Mag’s new media blog on how I was alerted by TWitter first, and how you broke the story before major news sources even had a chance to get their people on the story.

    http://snipurl.com/chinaearthquake

    Stay “noisy” because that’s how I’m able to stay connected on what’s happening in the world from my lil island in Hawaii.

    @CoachDeb
    on Twitter

  5. Mahalo for keeping me informed of the Earthquake in China alerts as they were happening Robert. IT was very informative being able to be connected, and making sure I didn’t have to worry about Tsunami here in Hawaii.

    I posted the highlights on Entrepreneur Mag’s new media blog on how I was alerted by TWitter first, and how you broke the story before major news sources even had a chance to get their people on the story.

    http://snipurl.com/chinaearthquake

    Stay “noisy” because that’s how I’m able to stay connected on what’s happening in the world from my lil island in Hawaii.

    @CoachDeb
    on Twitter

  6. Robert, you had predicted a huge surge (and scaling issues) with Twitter in the event of a California major quake (perhaps almost any natural disaster I would think). You and I had discussed (or I had to you anyway) some of the implications of Twitter and other services in emergencies, and scaling issues etc.

  7. Robert, you had predicted a huge surge (and scaling issues) with Twitter in the event of a California major quake (perhaps almost any natural disaster I would think). You and I had discussed (or I had to you anyway) some of the implications of Twitter and other services in emergencies, and scaling issues etc.

  8. OK so you were first to report the quake but you didn’t predict it. That would have been much more useful.

  9. OK so you were first to report the quake but you didn’t predict it. That would have been much more useful.

  10. Well there is probably going to be another good quake somewhere in the world in the near future. My friend just retired form the Memphis Earthquake Center, and this makes # 2 in a week or so.

    I am sure the USGS was on top of it, they were just getting the facts straight, something that twitter will never get the hang of.

  11. Well there is probably going to be another good quake somewhere in the world in the near future. My friend just retired form the Memphis Earthquake Center, and this makes # 2 in a week or so.

    I am sure the USGS was on top of it, they were just getting the facts straight, something that twitter will never get the hang of.

  12. Hey Robert,
    Something ‘happened’ this morning while you were Tweeting about the dreadful China earthquake.

    I’m wondering if this might be one of the moments where people start believing that Twitter is coming of age?

    You got there quicker (by their own admission) than the world’s largest news gathering organization; The BBC.

    It was good to be part of it – it’s just so unfortunate that it was a bad news story and not a good news story that was the trigger.

    Jim Connolly
    The Ideas Blog

  13. Hey Robert,
    Something ‘happened’ this morning while you were Tweeting about the dreadful China earthquake.

    I’m wondering if this might be one of the moments where people start believing that Twitter is coming of age?

    You got there quicker (by their own admission) than the world’s largest news gathering organization; The BBC.

    It was good to be part of it – it’s just so unfortunate that it was a bad news story and not a good news story that was the trigger.

    Jim Connolly
    The Ideas Blog

  14. Robert, I wish you’d stop trying to convince us all that twitter is The Greatest Innovation In The History of Human Civilization.

    You mean people with cell phones can get news out faster than a TV station? Isn’t this story 15 years old? Who cares what technology they’re using to accomplish this today vs. last year? Same shit, different pile.

  15. Robert, I wish you’d stop trying to convince us all that twitter is The Greatest Innovation In The History of Human Civilization.

    You mean people with cell phones can get news out faster than a TV station? Isn’t this story 15 years old? Who cares what technology they’re using to accomplish this today vs. last year? Same shit, different pile.

  16. Touché to Flemming. If someone twitter but no one is following, does anyone care?

    Please stop suggesting twitter is the answer to our communications questions. It’s an interesting tool. But to suggest twits knew about the quake before the USGS is simply naive.

    Sure it can spread “news” fast,but so can cell phones and texting and IM. Hell, Paul Revere used a horse to let the town know the British were coming before the press could report it, what’s your point?

  17. Touché to Flemming. If someone twitter but no one is following, does anyone care?

    Please stop suggesting twitter is the answer to our communications questions. It’s an interesting tool. But to suggest twits knew about the quake before the USGS is simply naive.

    Sure it can spread “news” fast,but so can cell phones and texting and IM. Hell, Paul Revere used a horse to let the town know the British were coming before the press could report it, what’s your point?

  18. >But to suggest twits knew about the quake before the USGS is simply naive.

    Sorry, the USGS Website had this news three minutes after the first Twitterers did. Same thing with Mexico City earthquake.

  19. >But to suggest twits knew about the quake before the USGS is simply naive.

    Sorry, the USGS Website had this news three minutes after the first Twitterers did. Same thing with Mexico City earthquake.

  20. >Isn’t this story 15 years old?

    No. 15 years ago very very few had cell phones. Also, 15 years ago we weren’t all connected together with a service like Twitter. Try again.

  21. >Isn’t this story 15 years old?

    No. 15 years ago very very few had cell phones. Also, 15 years ago we weren’t all connected together with a service like Twitter. Try again.

  22. Thousands reported the quake live as it happened using QQ (using both web client and SMS from cellphone), and it was picked up pretty much instantly on CCTV (stream live over pplive at my house). Strangely, tweetscan doesn’t let me search for 地震 (Chinese word for earthquake), so I guess we only get to hear what the echo-chamber has to say about the Chengdu quake.

    Honestly, I reported the last Seattle earthquake as it happened, from my IM, and this is par for the course in China. Isn’t it a little bit silly to act as if twitter changes the equation?

  23. Thousands reported the quake live as it happened using QQ (using both web client and SMS from cellphone), and it was picked up pretty much instantly on CCTV (stream live over pplive at my house). Strangely, tweetscan doesn’t let me search for 地震 (Chinese word for earthquake), so I guess we only get to hear what the echo-chamber has to say about the Chengdu quake.

    Honestly, I reported the last Seattle earthquake as it happened, from my IM, and this is par for the course in China. Isn’t it a little bit silly to act as if twitter changes the equation?

  24. weird, more into hyping technology than the effects on folks enduring the aftermath of such a big shaker.

  25. weird, more into hyping technology than the effects on folks enduring the aftermath of such a big shaker.

  26. Twitter doesn’t have to be mainstream to be useful, as this incident proves, I think. It is great to have the “backup” of news sites like the BBC, obviously, because they are organized to put out good content (pretty) fast. But the distributed eyes and minds of a million Twitterers will beat any news organization from now on when it comes to first views, especially @ big events like this quake.

  27. Twitter doesn’t have to be mainstream to be useful, as this incident proves, I think. It is great to have the “backup” of news sites like the BBC, obviously, because they are organized to put out good content (pretty) fast. But the distributed eyes and minds of a million Twitterers will beat any news organization from now on when it comes to first views, especially @ big events like this quake.

  28. Nothing like the tragic death of thousands to show off the “usefulness” of the latest shiny-geeky chat toy, the fact that “news was late’ owes more to the godless Chinese Commie government’s tight-control over the press, and lack of decent reporting/news infrastructure. Just a few years ago, blogs were all the tragedy-reporting rage, now it seems people don’t much bother, cell phoning, SMS’ing and IM’ing.

    So a big earthquake, thousands dead, hundreds buried alive, and the best spin you can come up with was that Twitter was somehow 180 seconds “faster”. Galling. You do realize, how cold, cruel and inhuman that makes you sound?

    PS – You couldn’t work in some Seagate promo? The fastest earthquake-reporting tweets brought to you by Seagate, proud hard drive provider for Twitter (not sure they are, but if they are, every time you wet your pants over Twitter you could do a Seagate tie-in). Incidentally, WDC has gained 77% and STX has fallen 15% since you became their sponsor, and Watkins has gone “ice-cream scoop” crazy, with major investor calls for his head, KSR v. Teleflex ahoy, sue all SSD technologies, STEC now, Samsung and Intel later. Scoble Curse again. Oh, btw, some sort of earthquake in China.

  29. Nothing like the tragic death of thousands to show off the “usefulness” of the latest shiny-geeky chat toy, the fact that “news was late’ owes more to the godless Chinese Commie government’s tight-control over the press, and lack of decent reporting/news infrastructure. Just a few years ago, blogs were all the tragedy-reporting rage, now it seems people don’t much bother, cell phoning, SMS’ing and IM’ing.

    So a big earthquake, thousands dead, hundreds buried alive, and the best spin you can come up with was that Twitter was somehow 180 seconds “faster”. Galling. You do realize, how cold, cruel and inhuman that makes you sound?

    PS – You couldn’t work in some Seagate promo? The fastest earthquake-reporting tweets brought to you by Seagate, proud hard drive provider for Twitter (not sure they are, but if they are, every time you wet your pants over Twitter you could do a Seagate tie-in). Incidentally, WDC has gained 77% and STX has fallen 15% since you became their sponsor, and Watkins has gone “ice-cream scoop” crazy, with major investor calls for his head, KSR v. Teleflex ahoy, sue all SSD technologies, STEC now, Samsung and Intel later. Scoble Curse again. Oh, btw, some sort of earthquake in China.

  30. Actually you’re mistaken. The USGS has the data instantly, but doesn’t report it online until the data has been reviewed by a seismologist for accuracy.

    The same could be said for CNN et al–they waited until they had facts to report. This was a major event, and it does no good to report anything until you have at least the minimum of facts. Didn’t want of your earlier twits show you guessing that the quake was 4.5, based on what someone felt? Without any understanding of how deep it was, the terrain, and the epicenter?

    What is more important from a technology perspective is how earthquake proof those schools were, and how much did the Three Gorges dam and it’s huge reservoir add to the earthquake intensity. The latter is particularly important to people our area, because there is some discussion that the increased flooding in our area may actually be responsible for the increase in earthquakes in the New Madrid and associated faults.

    So, can you twit up them facts?

  31. Actually you’re mistaken. The USGS has the data instantly, but doesn’t report it online until the data has been reviewed by a seismologist for accuracy.

    The same could be said for CNN et al–they waited until they had facts to report. This was a major event, and it does no good to report anything until you have at least the minimum of facts. Didn’t want of your earlier twits show you guessing that the quake was 4.5, based on what someone felt? Without any understanding of how deep it was, the terrain, and the epicenter?

    What is more important from a technology perspective is how earthquake proof those schools were, and how much did the Three Gorges dam and it’s huge reservoir add to the earthquake intensity. The latter is particularly important to people our area, because there is some discussion that the increased flooding in our area may actually be responsible for the increase in earthquakes in the New Madrid and associated faults.

    So, can you twit up them facts?

  32. Here’s an interesting WSJ post on what the earthquake magnitude means, and how unimportant the size of the quake is compared to the location of the quake. This quake was in a heavily populated area and that means the situation is going to be very, very bad.

    One could say the same thing about whether twitter notes were before USGS posting–that’s truly incidental to the story, which is that tens, maybe more will die from this quake. The only saving grace is China is very well equipped to deal with these emergencies.

    Nine hundred kids in one school alone. I can’t even imagine it.

  33. Here’s an interesting WSJ post on what the earthquake magnitude means, and how unimportant the size of the quake is compared to the location of the quake. This quake was in a heavily populated area and that means the situation is going to be very, very bad.

    One could say the same thing about whether twitter notes were before USGS posting–that’s truly incidental to the story, which is that tens, maybe more will die from this quake. The only saving grace is China is very well equipped to deal with these emergencies.

    Nine hundred kids in one school alone. I can’t even imagine it.

  34. The good thing about Twitter postings being ‘FIRST!!!1!’ before things like, the USGS is that it gets us to turn on CNN faster, so we can watch their coverage over and over while simultaneously consuming the self-referential coverage about Twitter on Twitter.

    Seriously.

  35. The good thing about Twitter postings being ‘FIRST!!!1!’ before things like, the USGS is that it gets us to turn on CNN faster, so we can watch their coverage over and over while simultaneously consuming the self-referential coverage about Twitter on Twitter.

    Seriously.

  36. Scoble, unless you are suggesting the USGS doesn’t know anything until its posted on their web site, I would respectfully submit you are high. There is no way in he’ll a Twit was able to type out a message before the USGS knew an earthquake had occured

  37. Scoble, unless you are suggesting the USGS doesn’t know anything until its posted on their web site, I would respectfully submit you are high. There is no way in he’ll a Twit was able to type out a message before the USGS knew an earthquake had occured

  38. BTW, how many twits did you get about the tornados in Missouri before the NWS or a news outlet reported it? Zero?

  39. BTW, how many twits did you get about the tornados in Missouri before the NWS or a news outlet reported it? Zero?

  40. [...] Robert Scoble – z dumą poinformował o tym, że jego informacje o trzęsieniu ziemi w Chinach pojawiły się dużo wcześniej niż podała je jakakolwiek prasa, media internetowe czy nawet instytucje zajmujące się monitorowaniem trzęsień ziemi (chociaż tutaj zdania są podzielone). Wielu zwolenników twittera uważa tę sytuację za kolejny dowód na to, że twitter jest w tej chwili najszybszym kanałem komunikacji. [...]

  41. I don’t recall any Twit’s a twatting about the Midwest earthquake, oh right, Midwesterners are just a buncha fly-over hicks not hip on the latest Web 2.0 doodad, how dare they even breathe.

  42. I don’t recall any Twit’s a twatting about the Midwest earthquake, oh right, Midwesterners are just a buncha fly-over hicks not hip on the latest Web 2.0 doodad, how dare they even breathe.

  43. It is now several hours since the event. Where would you go to learn about the earthquake, basic facts, possible impact on the local people, economy, Olympics? Would you go to Twitter first, blogs, or traditional news sites?

  44. It is now several hours since the event. Where would you go to learn about the earthquake, basic facts, possible impact on the local people, economy, Olympics? Would you go to Twitter first, blogs, or traditional news sites?

  45. “I don’t recall any Twit’s a twatting about the Midwest earthquake, oh right, Midwesterners are just a buncha fly-over hicks not hip on the latest Web 2.0 doodad, how dare they even breathe.”

    Christopher is so right. We in Missouri don’t need no stinkin’ Twitter. We got Aunt May and Sally Joe. Don’t need no durn tech-no gadget to get the news. Why, we jez wind up Aunt May and next thing you now? Everyone knows everything about everyone else’s bidness.

    *spitooie*

    Yup, what you call Twitter, we call the party line.

  46. “I don’t recall any Twit’s a twatting about the Midwest earthquake, oh right, Midwesterners are just a buncha fly-over hicks not hip on the latest Web 2.0 doodad, how dare they even breathe.”

    Christopher is so right. We in Missouri don’t need no stinkin’ Twitter. We got Aunt May and Sally Joe. Don’t need no durn tech-no gadget to get the news. Why, we jez wind up Aunt May and next thing you now? Everyone knows everything about everyone else’s bidness.

    *spitooie*

    Yup, what you call Twitter, we call the party line.

  47. Scobleizer you did a good job to make:
    “Twitter before the USGS Website had a report up and about an hour before CNN or major press started talking about it.”
    It also prove that we are in an age of everybody is “News Reporter and Receiver”. The power of internet and the freedom to speak on net. Please just report the truth, not the rumour.
    So that CNN cannot just makeup the news they want!!

  48. Scobleizer you did a good job to make:
    “Twitter before the USGS Website had a report up and about an hour before CNN or major press started talking about it.”
    It also prove that we are in an age of everybody is “News Reporter and Receiver”. The power of internet and the freedom to speak on net. Please just report the truth, not the rumour.
    So that CNN cannot just makeup the news they want!!

  49. [...] Robert Scoble talks about another social network that has played a part in at least raising awareness about the earthquake. After the quake, phones were out or overloaded, and other forms of communication were damaged as well. But as the quake was happening people all over China and neighboring countries used twitter to give updates on what they were seeing and feeling. Text-messages do not take near the bandwidth of phone calls so they have an easier time getting through a log-jammed system and with Twitter they can be propagated quickly to thousands. Twitter had the news first and other social media followed quickly, hours ahead of official media. I do not know how much of this instant information was used for saving lives, but it certainly has a lot of potential for that. [...]

  50. [...] Marc is absolutely right. In fact, the USGS picked up the quake about 5 minutes after the initial Twitter reports began. Many of us had a map of the quake region before the USGS could post one. Now it’s tempting to chide the experts for showing up late to the party, but frankly Twitter is an unfair advantage for the rest of us (side note: I hope folks at the USGS are following Twitter. They aren’t doing their jobs otherwise). It seems increasingly the web is pushing mainstream news services are in the business of confirmation and analysis rather than actual news dissemination. This missive from Robert Scoble pretty much sums up the role of the mainstream media in the minds of active Twitter users: [...]

  51. Here’s a little bit of communications heresy for you guys who seem to get high on the stuff:

    Does it matter?
    Not that there was an earthquake, but that you should know about it faster than anyone else.
    What difference does it make?
    For you, and (more importantly) for the people affected.

    I suspect that being constantly bombarded with news about which we can do nothing just makes us more apathetic – even for the things about which we *could* do something.

  52. Here’s a little bit of communications heresy for you guys who seem to get high on the stuff:

    Does it matter?
    Not that there was an earthquake, but that you should know about it faster than anyone else.
    What difference does it make?
    For you, and (more importantly) for the people affected.

    I suspect that being constantly bombarded with news about which we can do nothing just makes us more apathetic – even for the things about which we *could* do something.

  53. If anybody is near the quake, perhaps you could do me a favor.

    One of the problems that survivors now start facing is acute kidney failure–from dehydration plus crush injury (rhabdomyolysis). The treatment is i.v. hydration, which works well at least half the time.

    For the survivors whose kidneys have already failed–who have no urine output despite lots of i.v. fluids–my company has something to offer. We’ve been issued a patent for treating acute kidney failure without having to use dialysis. We use a generic medication instead, which is given i.v. It may be that oral tablets will work as well.

    I don’t know how practical this request is, but if you could somehow try to get word to those taking care of survivors of the quake to contact me at http://www.genomed.com, I’d be happy to share our “recipe” for acute kidney failure with them.

    Best regards,
    Dave Moskowitz MD
    CEO & Chief Medical Officer
    GenoMed, Inc.
    Ticker symbol: GMED (on Pink Sheets)
    “The public health company(tm)”

  54. Hi Robert

    Just for the record, should this be useful, here’s my two (literally) cents about this story (in italian): http://tinyurl.com/5eam5g and http://tinyurl.com/5d6nbe

    I’m with you, thinking that Twitter has been a great newstool. I really can’t understand why so many don’t get this

    But as I said elsewhere, I think that “who’s first” is not exactly the main point: IMHO “how fast, how many” and “how open” is much more interesting. yes, the idea of a spontaneous, planetary collaboration in newsmaking it’s not so new anymore, but it’s still fascinating and I think it’s great to see it at work

  55. If anybody is near the quake, perhaps you could do me a favor.

    One of the problems that survivors now start facing is acute kidney failure–from dehydration plus crush injury (rhabdomyolysis). The treatment is i.v. hydration, which works well at least half the time.

    For the survivors whose kidneys have already failed–who have no urine output despite lots of i.v. fluids–my company has something to offer. We’ve been issued a patent for treating acute kidney failure without having to use dialysis. We use a generic medication instead, which is given i.v. It may be that oral tablets will work as well.

    I don’t know how practical this request is, but if you could somehow try to get word to those taking care of survivors of the quake to contact me at http://www.genomed.com, I’d be happy to share our “recipe” for acute kidney failure with them.

    Best regards,
    Dave Moskowitz MD
    CEO & Chief Medical Officer
    GenoMed, Inc.
    Ticker symbol: GMED (on Pink Sheets)
    “The public health company(tm)”

  56. Hi Robert

    Just for the record, should this be useful, here’s my two (literally) cents about this story (in italian): http://tinyurl.com/5eam5g and http://tinyurl.com/5d6nbe

    I’m with you, thinking that Twitter has been a great newstool. I really can’t understand why so many don’t get this

    But as I said elsewhere, I think that “who’s first” is not exactly the main point: IMHO “how fast, how many” and “how open” is much more interesting. yes, the idea of a spontaneous, planetary collaboration in newsmaking it’s not so new anymore, but it’s still fascinating and I think it’s great to see it at work

  57. Brian, I love your posts and usually agree with you, but I think this goes too far in praising the speed with which a Tweet travels while not examining the quality, accuracy, and above all the value of the message.

    First, I’m sure someone phoned someone at some point to report the quake. Before we talk about Twitter beating USGS, we might want to talk about how valuable Twitter is versus a phone — or yelling.

    The quake probably did end up as a tweet before USGS got it. In addition to being a bureaucratic agency, USGS has to confirm and make sense of what it reports. It has a reputation and can’t go willy-nilly throwing out 140 character outbursts without doing due-diligence. It doesn’t surprise me that the twittersphere was alive with posts. But how valuable are those posts really? I’m guessing most of the posts were “OMG something is happening…” Even if you had anything valuable to share, you only had 140 characters, so good luck being articulate. There’s nothing actionable there, and any officials paying attention to the wrong people might miss some valuable, life-saving information. That’s not even touching the argument that Twitter is so cluttered and fragmented that anything potentially valuable is going to be buried; anytime something actually happens, Twitter turns into the online version of a mass-panic, so you’ll have even more tweets by people who also don’t know what’s going on. In that way, the lack of actionable information and chaos on Twitter probably ressembled the street-level frenzy in China.

    Twitter works well for people at the top of the pyramid like you, but you may even feel less comfortable if the service is adopted too wildly. Right now, gurus like you are the loud voices in a big auditorium with a lot of empty seats. If mass adoption takes over, the authoritative voices may get drowned out, and with that the utility of the tool as a great connector may diminish.

    I’ve been spending less and less time on Twitter and can say I’m better for it. It’s a great tool for people who can afford to spend all day on it, and I’m glad some of you can and report on your dialogues, but I can’t (if everyone spent all day on it, our world would grind to a halt). If something remarkable happens, I know you guys will hash it out and put the conversation together in a coherent blog post so that I don’t have to read 600 tweets to get the 2 pieces of valuable information out of it.

    I should caveat all of this by saying I’m still a big Twitter skeptic. There is a lot of fascinating interaction and communication going on in the Twitter community, and that there is an exciting future for this kind of on-everywhere short communication, I also don’t believe that Twitter is the company to take it to the next level. But that’s another conversation about technology.

  58. Brian, I love your posts and usually agree with you, but I think this goes too far in praising the speed with which a Tweet travels while not examining the quality, accuracy, and above all the value of the message.

    First, I’m sure someone phoned someone at some point to report the quake. Before we talk about Twitter beating USGS, we might want to talk about how valuable Twitter is versus a phone — or yelling.

    The quake probably did end up as a tweet before USGS got it. In addition to being a bureaucratic agency, USGS has to confirm and make sense of what it reports. It has a reputation and can’t go willy-nilly throwing out 140 character outbursts without doing due-diligence. It doesn’t surprise me that the twittersphere was alive with posts. But how valuable are those posts really? I’m guessing most of the posts were “OMG something is happening…” Even if you had anything valuable to share, you only had 140 characters, so good luck being articulate. There’s nothing actionable there, and any officials paying attention to the wrong people might miss some valuable, life-saving information. That’s not even touching the argument that Twitter is so cluttered and fragmented that anything potentially valuable is going to be buried; anytime something actually happens, Twitter turns into the online version of a mass-panic, so you’ll have even more tweets by people who also don’t know what’s going on. In that way, the lack of actionable information and chaos on Twitter probably ressembled the street-level frenzy in China.

    Twitter works well for people at the top of the pyramid like you, but you may even feel less comfortable if the service is adopted too wildly. Right now, gurus like you are the loud voices in a big auditorium with a lot of empty seats. If mass adoption takes over, the authoritative voices may get drowned out, and with that the utility of the tool as a great connector may diminish.

    I’ve been spending less and less time on Twitter and can say I’m better for it. It’s a great tool for people who can afford to spend all day on it, and I’m glad some of you can and report on your dialogues, but I can’t (if everyone spent all day on it, our world would grind to a halt). If something remarkable happens, I know you guys will hash it out and put the conversation together in a coherent blog post so that I don’t have to read 600 tweets to get the 2 pieces of valuable information out of it.

    I should caveat all of this by saying I’m still a big Twitter skeptic. There is a lot of fascinating interaction and communication going on in the Twitter community, and that there is an exciting future for this kind of on-everywhere short communication, I also don’t believe that Twitter is the company to take it to the next level. But that’s another conversation about technology.

  59. 15000 people dead, 30000+ still buried alive, and all you can come up with is that you are faster than USGS by 3 minutes and CNN by an hour? No word about the people that are suffering, no link to redcross or other donation websites. Do you realize how cold and cruel this makes you look?

  60. 15000 people dead, 30000+ still buried alive, and all you can come up with is that you are faster than USGS by 3 minutes and CNN by an hour? No word about the people that are suffering, no link to redcross or other donation websites. Do you realize how cold and cruel this makes you look?

  61. you, Robert Scoble, should better donate some of your own money (im not talking about sponsorhip money, you would raise and by that creating even more publicity for yourself and twitter) instead of abusing such a tragedy for promoting yourself and a product, that for 99,99% of humanity is completely useless. none of the tweets from western twitterers in the sichuan area reported of any casualties after the quake. the people really affected by the quake are so poor that most of them cant even afford a mobile phone, let a lone internet. it was on official media to report the actual devastating death toll numbers. you spoiled it nerds should all take a break and do something for those (all around the world) who really are in need for “innovative” (=live saving) services

  62. you, Robert Scoble, should better donate some of your own money (im not talking about sponsorhip money, you would raise and by that creating even more publicity for yourself and twitter) instead of abusing such a tragedy for promoting yourself and a product, that for 99,99% of humanity is completely useless. none of the tweets from western twitterers in the sichuan area reported of any casualties after the quake. the people really affected by the quake are so poor that most of them cant even afford a mobile phone, let a lone internet. it was on official media to report the actual devastating death toll numbers. you spoiled it nerds should all take a break and do something for those (all around the world) who really are in need for “innovative” (=live saving) services

  63. Joe Jamin: do you realize how much of an idiot your comment makes you look? We were already talking about those things on my Twitter account. Geesh. Like there’s ANYONE in the planet who isn’t aware now that there was severe suffering in the aftermath of this quake. But two hours after the quake? We had no idea (I was even getting crap from other people for saying that there would be massive casualties).

  64. Joe Jamin: do you realize how much of an idiot your comment makes you look? We were already talking about those things on my Twitter account. Geesh. Like there’s ANYONE in the planet who isn’t aware now that there was severe suffering in the aftermath of this quake. But two hours after the quake? We had no idea (I was even getting crap from other people for saying that there would be massive casualties).

  65. [...] Volgens de data van Compete is het verkeer naar de website in de VS gegroeid tot 1,2 miljoen bezoekers per maand. De reden dat Twitter zo snel groeit is dat Twitter de afgelopen maanden veel aandacht heeft gekregen in de traditionele pers met acties om een Amerikaanse student uit de gevangenis te krijgen in Egypte en de verslaggeving van de aardbeving in China. [...]

  66. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life due to the earthquake in China. May their souls rest in peace. Survivors need urgent medical attention, food, clothing, shelter etc. We need to help the survivors in every possible way.

  67. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life due to the earthquake in China. May their souls rest in peace. Survivors need urgent medical attention, food, clothing, shelter etc. We need to help the survivors in every possible way.

  68. Twitter got the story but weeping is NOT all we can do. In fact, many have already begun to take action. See www.http://chinaquake.zhan.cn.yahoo.com to learn about the nonprofit organization Chinese Earthquake Fund. This initiative, spearheaded by Shou-Ching Tang, MD, Director of Hematology/Oncology at Denver Health in Denver, CO, has been established to raise funds for medical supplies for West China Hospital in Chengdu. It is located 60 miles from the epicenter and is treating 1200 seariously injured victims, more than half need secondary surgery. You can find out how to donate money at the aforementioned website. Thanks for doing more than weeping for the victims of this devastating earthquake.

  69. Twitter got the story but weeping is NOT all we can do. In fact, many have already begun to take action. See www.http://chinaquake.zhan.cn.yahoo.com to learn about the nonprofit organization Chinese Earthquake Fund. This initiative, spearheaded by Shou-Ching Tang, MD, Director of Hematology/Oncology at Denver Health in Denver, CO, has been established to raise funds for medical supplies for West China Hospital in Chengdu. It is located 60 miles from the epicenter and is treating 1200 seariously injured victims, more than half need secondary surgery. You can find out how to donate money at the aforementioned website. Thanks for doing more than weeping for the victims of this devastating earthquake.

  70. Its interesting to see how Twitter advanced in the mass media…….it tells me that the internet is no longer the alternative approach to the news…….its now main stream.

  71. Its interesting to see how Twitter advanced in the mass media…….it tells me that the internet is no longer the alternative approach to the news…….its now main stream.

  72. The epicenter was 50 miles from Chengdu, which has about 10.5 million residents. Already reports are coming across of buildings that have been knocked down.

  73. Scoble, unless you are suggesting the USGS doesn't know anything until its posted on their web site, I would respectfully submit you are high. There is no way in he'll a Twit was able to type out a message before the USGS knew an earthquake had occured

  74. [...] than a month, it’s probably time to talk about Twitter.  After all, it broke the news of the earthquake in Sichuan, served as the Iranian protesters’ communication link to the world and proved Ashton Kutcher [...]