Earthquake Signals End of the "Twitter Scoop"

What if an earthquake happens on Twitter, and no media sensationalizes it?

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 3:15 PM PDT
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Earthquake Signals End of the "Twitter Scoop"

Maynard Lam / Twitter

Okay, when more people hear of an earthquake on Twitter than actually feel the earthquake, it means there is neither a story about Twitter or earthquakes, really.

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Remember when Twitter was so new and apparently exciting that when news of an event started happening, somehow Twitter became the story and not the event?

Hopefully, with today's mild earthquake in the Bay Area, that's over.

Certainly there was lots of chatter on Twitter about the quake. I felt it in San Francisco, and it was shortly confirmed by an email alert from the United States Geological Survey service that actually definitively confirmed the quake and magnitude, and that it wasn't just a truck going by as usual.

But email? Definitive confirmation? Those are so pre-Twitter, and therefore of no interest to the 24-hour news cycle.

While people from around the world overreacted and sent well-intentioned reply messages to friends in the Bay Area, we should have been shrugging and telling them to "tweet me when it tops 6."

Now, it's not totally without value -- the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management's Rob Dudgeon sent messages early and often with updates about the quake and links to emergency preparedness guidelines.

If there was any progress made, it was that Twitter users were talking about the quake, and not about how cool Twitter is for letting them talk about the quake.

Now all we have to do is convince non-Californians that a 4.1 temblor is nothing to get in a frenzy about. Really, it would hardly even wake someone from a light nap.

Jackson West has lived in earthquake country all his life, and really guys, a 4.1? That's barely over the USGS reporting threshold.

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