Social Media and Mumbai

Posted by on Nov 27, 2008 in Uncategorized | One Comment


Pic c/o Techcrunch

Terrible events in Mumbai yesterday and today. Interesting to see how we've responded.

For readers who don't use Twitter and Flickr (or read Techcrunch), it's worth seeing how this – among other social media tools – how this stuff is being used to flag  aggregate and follow what's going on. UPDATE review in Telegraph (Hat tip David Cushman via Twitter)

Social media clearly now a fact of life in terms of how the world experiences major events (for the first time this year the BBC used social media as a feature of their TV coverage of the 08 US Elections UPDATE today's lunchtime UK TV news bulletins on Mumbai include a special 'blogosphere' section).

Lots of interesting meta-comments prompted by the events around the web e.g. on Techcrunch – including a persistent theme of distrust of mainstream news media's agendas

Such as:

"TV and web media news can be “directed” and express certain point of
views. In many cases TV media made mistake by providing false news.
Through twitter and similar services you receive news by different
sources (and I believe more sources than a reporter in the point of
interest). Of cource someone can send “directed” news by twitter also.
But there is large number of sources-users to compare and make your own

[from Pountzas Th.]

"I agree, it is terrible what’s happening. But we are ‘fed’
information that we’re ’supposed’ to see, and ‘interpretations’ we’re
’supposed’ to make.

Don’t take anything at face value. Too many ‘illusions’ being created these days"

[from Pete Moring]

But some interesting push-backs elsewhere that suggest some caution in the use of such sources: about for example the difference between reading about folks' impressions of what's happening and working out what's really going on: checking what the crowd feels is going on is not the same as producing verifiable facts.

On the one hand is the problem that most twitter posts are not primary data (from eye witnesses) after all but secondary (i.e. folk picking up on what they see on on Twitter and elsewhere); on the other is the question of whether the "real people" any more reliable witnesses than the mainstream media

One good example is the debate here about whether or not this guy is a terrorist


Can we really tell from appearences or are we just using our own (probably) stereotyped ideas about what a terrorist looks like? If I had to do a photofit not sure I'd do that well.

I'm not sure the real point about the role of social media in all of this (as e.g. I think Michael Arrington is arguing on Techcrunch) to draw from this is that we are warming up to challenge the mainstream on "the facts" (in a Wisdom of Crowds stylee) – individual witness accounts, aside – rather, it helps the mass of us harnesses our collective (HERD) awareness about what the 'breaking stories' are from the disturbance in the force that other people's tweating and blogging represents…

It's an old, old, Herd thing: pooling watchtower responsibilities

1 Comment

  1. Joe Heath
    November 27, 2008

    Not that I don’t agree with you that social media now plays a crucial role during events like this. The retweets for blood needed at a hospital in Mumbai being a particularly positive point last night.
    But, at the same time, as hostages await their fate, people lie bloodied and dying in hospitals and scores of families are left devastated I think it insensitive, tasteless and opportunist to begin evaluating the value of social media vs. traditional broadcast media. I agree there will be value to this sort of commentary, but for sake of those involved – let’s offer our prayers and thoughts to the people directly affected by these terrible events and leave it at for now. Joe Heath