The Earth Moves & The Power of Social Networking

The Earth Moves

As many of you will now know there was a bit of a quake in Christchurch yesterday. (Non-kiwis need to understand that we understate things a lot – it was a 7.1 quake.)

While I actually felt the quake, the epicenter was quite some distance from home.

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I felt it as a long smooth roll – something similar to what I’d feel if the cat jumped up on my bed in the middle of the night – except it kept on going which was what alerted my sleepy brain to an earthquake. However, it wasn’t enough for me to do anything more than turn over and go back to sleep. An hour later (5:30am) I was up taking my daughter to work and she mentioned the quake and damage but I still didn’t take in what she was talking about. It wasn’t till around 8:30am when I was woken again by several texts coming through on my phone. The first one was from Twitter – a DM from a friend in England asking if I was ok. My first thought was to wonder if it had been too long since I was on twitter and she was missing me. That thought vanished when I saw the second text – from my best friend in Montana – asking if me and the kids were ok. At this point I realised that there must have been some real damage happen with the earthquake and I turned the TV and computer on to check.

I lived in Christchurch for 13 years – all through my 20’s and early 30’s; both my kids were born there and I have very fond memories from that time. I’m also due to attend a conference there (as are many of my TwitterPLN) at the beginning of October. So I was glued to the pictures – there were places I knew well – destroyed some of them; others were fine – such random damage. I was also glued to twitter and facebook – there was so much information coming out via those two social media sites – I still haven’t heard from a couple of friends but everyone else posted via one of those two places that they were safe – shaken, stirred but safe.

And they’re still being shaken! Take a look at this screen grab of the McQueen’s Valley Quake Drum from this morning – it doesn’t have the big one on it but check out all the after shocks!

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The Power of Social Networking

This earthquake and the response to it has been an amazing example of social networks in action. The first photos coming out were via twitter – in fact many of the photos shown via conventional media were from twitter. People were checking in via twitter and facebook – I guess check in once to FB means lots of people can be reassured in one go.

Hashtag power was at work too – want to check the latest – search using the #eqnz hashtag:

Google search
Twitter search

How about this screenshot of a headline for an online paper in Canada:

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Check out also “The Twitter #eqnz Daily” with a mixture of links to videos, photos, blogs, twitter stream etc.


Sometimes Wikipedia gets slammed as being not accurate enough or not reliable because ordinary people can edit and change the pages. I disagree – I think it’s powerful because ordinary people can edit and change the pages. I doubt very much that a group of paid professionals could/would have produced this page, with this amount of information, this quickly: 2010 Canterbury Earthquake.

This is the power of social networking at it’s best (if ordinary people can have a hand in editing it’s part of social networking IMHO).

This is history being written as it happens – via Twitter/Facebook/Wikipedia/Youtube/Blogs!