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News at the speed of Twitter

Late on March 1st, 2007 I was working at my computer when Twitterrific popped forward with a brief message from Thomas Hawk. The message was only one word long, but it still caught my attention. It read:


After ten years of living in California, I'm acutely attentive to that word. Especially, in this case, because I know Thomas lives in my old stomping ground, the bay area. But perhaps, I though, he's out of town.

I opened my iChat buddy list and scanned for friends in California. Many of them were online, which I took as a good sign (the power was still on, at the very least). I sent Egan an instant message, asking if he'd felt an earthquake.

Yes, about 2 minutes ago! A small one.

As we talked about it, Egan felt an aftershock, and several other Californians in my buddy list changed their status messages to refer to the quake. too. Shortly thereafter, I visited the USGS earthquake events website and saw the initial reports.

The quake wasn't a big deal, similar the ones that I experienced firsthand, but this time I was 2200 miles away. Yet, thanks to Twitter and iChat, I knew about it mere minutes after it occurred, and learned that those I care about were almost certainly doing just fine. Gotta love the Internet.


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