Two minutes after yesterday’s earthquake ended, my family gathered around a computer monitor displaying the USGS’s Recent Earthquakes website to see what we were dealing with. Before the local news anchors had a chance to clear their throats, we knew that a 6.9 magnitude earthquake had struck an area 200 miles southeast of us in Mexico.
During the next hour, we visited our various social networks to see how our friends and family fared. Through the use of real-time services such as Twitter and Facebook, we not only learned that everyone was okay, but we also that the scientists had revised the 6.9 magnitude estimate upward to a 7.2.
And a mere two hours after the event, more than 4,000 people had already joined a new Facebook group called “I survived the Easter earthquake 04/04/2010.” (note: 16 hours after the even it had over 16,000 members!)
Recap: The real time internet allowed us to:
- instantly assess the magnitude of a potential danger,
- check the health and welfare of both family and friends,
- and enter into a mass, shared experience, where we exchanged our stories.
None of this was possible a mere 18 months ago. This unprecedented access to instant communications is having a profound affect on our lives, but the change is happening so quickly, that we can’t get our heads around their magnitude. Are real-time social communications just frivolous time-wasters, or are they the building blocks of amazing new products and services? I’m betting on the latter. What about you?
Photo Credit: TonyJCase