Sunday, August 26, 2012

Social Media bombardment

I feel like I am under attack. I am being bombarded by imagery, forecasts, retweets, shares, and the like about Tropical Storm Isaac. Of course, the more you tweet, the harder it is for good information to be found that it timely and relevant. I certainly can not claim that I everything I tweet is necessary, or good, or even useful (Thankfully I do not tweet very much). Do you stay on message? Stay focused? Provide substantive updates?

A novel concept was presented at the AMS Summer Community Meeting by Jeanette Sutton, University of Colorado. She boldly stated that twitter was the next observation system. Astutely pointing out that people generate data (tweets, pictures) that may have substantive meaning worthy of collecting on the ground in any situation, be it a crisis, disaster, or event of note.

She stated boldly that people are ravenous in their pursuit of information. Let me point out that a) there needs to be information to pursue and b) people will look for the information they want, not what you throw at them wildly.

Other random facts: Something like 50 percent of people in this country have a smart phone. Of those people 47 percent use that smart phone to get weather information (of some type).

So with an observing system like this:
1. Why bombard people with information? How do we, in the collective, present enough information to be meaningful, that reaches those people who we are trying reach?

2. Who is doing the listening?

Dr Suttons' work involved trying to figure out the trusted, local sources of information before, during, and after an event. The point of course is to steer information seekers to those people. This is of course has me thinking what the broader disaster community should be providing? because the bombardment is exactly successful, its just what happens. How does a community like this evolve?