Nov 6, 2010

Crowdsourcing earthquakes

What are you doing now? Shaking.
Well, not now now. Yesterday. "What are you doing now?" is Twitter's ice-breaker question. Everybody knows you don't have to answer it literally, and usually people don't. But they do when there's an earthquake. 
I haven't noticed too many recently, then I felt two good long jolts yesterday. One early in the morning, and one after work. I happened to be sitting at home looking at Twitter during the evening one, and apparently, so was everyone else I know. Those screen captures from my phone are just a small segment of all the quake messages. And those are just from the people I follow.
In the ensuing chat about how ha, ha, everyone tweeted the same thing at the same time, I mentioned that I thought I'd read or heard on the radio that the US Geological Survey used Twitter as one way of tracking quake activity. Talk about monitoring -- I got a  message from @USGS about a minute later that said "You heard right," and included a link to this story about how the USGS uses Twitter to track and map earthquake experiences around the world. The agency is doing all kinds of interesting things with social and interactive media. It will be fascinating to see what they can develop with it, and how similar work can be used in disaster and public health scenarios. They mention filtering for "earthquake" in a few other languages. Hope they've got 地震 (jishin) on their list.           

1 comment:

jt_sloosh said...

I actually didn't feel the quakes, I only knew they happened via Twitter.

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