Gustav Gives New Media a Workout
Hurricane Gustav was far less a threat than many expected, this past week. It presented the new media, Web 2.0 and even Web 3.0, with the opportunity to strut their stuff. Community building, networking, two-way communication, citizen journalism and more were on display.
Rick Sanchez led the way over at CNN. On Twitter, Rick is @ricksanchezcnn. Using Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and other New Media tools, Rick covered the hurricane with up to the second reports from people in New Orleans and elsewhere in the affected region. He was also able to respond to questions and concerns on the spot. I was one of many who had their “tweet” read on the air during that time.
Twitter is an unusual product that has exploded into the Internet in 2008, though it has been in existence since March, 2006. It is similar to text messaging on cell phones, only the message is limited to 140 characters. A variety of third parties have joined with the Twitter people to create a variety of interfaces, programs that allow you to have Twitter running and updating on your screen just as you would AIM or another Internet messaging program. There are also interfaces for a number of cellphones enabling you to twitter from your phone.
People were doing just that in New Orleans and other places where Hurricane Gustav hit.
Companies and groups were also using Twitter, and very effectively. Home Depot, @TheHomeDepot , was able to let everyone know which stores were open, or, newly reopened, and which stores have been resupplied. The Red Cross, @RedCross , sent out updates on their relief efforts, safety tips and encouragement. Sprint Nextel Corp.’s “Public policy PR guy” John Taylor, @jbtaylor , kept the world current with Sprint’s activities concerning the storm, and general information on how telecoms handle events like Gustav.
Twitter traffic about Hurricane Gustav got so heavy that a “hashtag” or unique identifier was created so that the Gustav traffic could be found via Twitter Search. #gustav became the identifier for all Hurricane Gustav tweets and the entire list went up here.
Two other New Media sites were created for Gustav. The social network site Ning was used by Andy Carvin, @acarvin , to create a place to aggregate all the Gustav information flying around the Internet. He, and the people who worked with him, also set up the Hurricane Information Center Wiki. The Ning site was for tweets, e-mails and other up to the minute information. The wiki was a collaborative effort to put all the static information in one place.
Both site were very active and today contain a tremendous amount of information about Hurricane Gustav, the people it affected, the places it affected and how others world-wide helped and are still helping.
Rick Sanchez of CNN was not alone in working with the New Media while in Old Media. A number of reporters also were on Twitter and posting pictures to sites like Flickr where they could be seen by all. The Chicago Tribune had @GustavReporter also known as James Janega and several associates in New Orleans and they produced for both Old and New Media.
The hurricane was also blogged by many people, including some world-class experts. Brendan Loy made his place in Internet history with his outstanding blogging during Hurricane Katrina and continued it with Gustav. Dr. Jeff Masters continued his hurricane blogging with Gustav. Many others, weather experts and weather amateurs, contributed to the information and dialog throughout the period.
Hurricane Gustav allowed New Media to strut its stuff. It did not replace Old Media, but it gave Old Media an up-to-the-minute information stream and feedback that it had never worked with before. It was communication in its truest sense, media, companies and organizations and information consumers / providers all working together in real time to assist, inform and reveal the disaster that was Gustav.
Table of contents for Gustav 08
This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 at 8:50 pm and is filed under Original writing, Commentary, Disasters, Media, Media, Old Media, Original writing, Tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.