Tehran, Tornadoes, and Twitter

This is one of the first pictures I saw of the “tornado” that went through my neighborhood last week, posted instantly on Twitter by someone who lives a few blocks from me.

I’m still fighting off the forces seeking to suck me into the Twittersphere…but it may be a losing battle.

I’m still not convinced Twitter will replace Facebook as my social networking system of choice any time in the near future. (Heck, I’m still working on getting more of my similarly-aged friends on Facebook; Twitter is pretty much out of the question for them.)

But the aspect of Twitter really tipping the scale for me is Twitter Search—it just can’t be beat for tapping into real-time, up-close news coverage.

The elections in Iran, for instance. The role of Twitter in the resistance movement cannot be understated. The Iranian government knows this, and has attempted to block access to Twitter from within its borders. They understand what a vital tool Twitter is for demonstrators in organizing each other, as well as keeping the outside world on top of what is really going on there.

I was fascinated that the Twitter folks themselves actually postponed a major network upgrade (that would limit Twitter availability) previously scheduled to occur in the middle of the night here in the U.S. earlier this week…because it was actually prime Twitter time in Iran.

Closer to home…last Thursday a tornado passed right over my neighborhood. (OK, the next day the weather service said it was only a funnel cloud…but the skies were black and green and eerie, and windows were blown out, and trees and fences were blown down.) What I found fascinating was that the local meteorologists were utilizing Twitter to track live, up-to-the-minute updates from “men on the field”–only those “men” weren’t paid reporters, but simply civilians with cell phones. Twitter was much more useful to me than TV in finding out what was actually going on in my neck of the woods.

Lastly…I was watching the breaking news about the Continental pilot who died in the middle of a trans-Atlantic flight on CNN this morning as I ran on a treadmill at the YMCA. Actually, what I watched was a reporter in the CNN newsroom relay Twitter updates to me as he read them off the screen. I figure if CNN is looking to Twitter to get their news, it would be a good place for me to go, too.

How about you…are you sold on Twitter yet?

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