A 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the UK around 1am their time today. ( Earthquake felt across much of UK )
Within 3 minutes of it happening, I received this message from one of my Twitter friends. “BREAKING NEWS – Reports of an earthquake in London streaming into the BreakingNewsOn center. working to confirm. Stay for Coverage “ It came from a profile based in the Netherlands called BreakingNewsOn.
Being an old-fashioned net-citizen, I checked out Google and then Google News. Not a sausage about any London earthquake – although 16 hours before, Lloyd’s of London had predicted that Israel was at risk of an earthquake:
So – I turned to my new favourite tool, Tweet Scan (thanks Sue) - which searches posts (tweets) to twitter. Searching on “earthquake” retrieved an instant snapshot of how it was affecting people in the UK, including the poor guy with the really old property who believes that God hates him personally.
Google doesn’t have the instant goods. Blogs don’t. And the next edition of my local newspaper – once the most up-to-date news source available – won’t be distributed until about 12 hours after the earthquake happened.
As librarians, we need to be familiar with the way information is created and transmitted – and how this is changing. We need to know how to use new tools to mine these new sources. We need to ask questions about the accuracy of such sources, and try to work out where archiving fits into this.
I’m wondering how many librarians would pick up the inherent weakness of Tweet Scan as an information tool. Tweet Scan only indexes those Twitter accounts that are public, not accounts like mine, which only my friends can read. If you’ve been on the inside, in there playing with Twitter, you’ve probably worked this out. If you’ve been watching from the outside, you probably had no idea.
Of course, my earthquake search is a great illustration of how the information rich live. Twitter can only be accessed by people with skills and time – both time to spend twitterwatching and the type of day with the leisure to be constantly interrupted by twitter. To me, this makes it even more important that librarians understand how this works and are able be a conduit to the information poor .
If you are in an academic library, your clientele probably includes some of the most information rich – and young and privileged- people around. I love this videoclip that provides a glimpse into the way these kids are changing. Bear with it for the first minute or so, and you will be rewarded with some very interesting perspectives on print, email and wristwatches. Are you relevant? (found via Stephen’s Lighthouse )