Yesterday’s tragedy at Virginia Tech University in the US, where some 33 people were ruthlessly murdered, is unquestionably shocking (and I offer my own sympathies to the families of those killed and injured).
One aspect of this awful event which I have found especially interesting relates to communication.
While there is some reporting that students have accused the authorities of failing to alert them quickly enough to the danger, it’s clear that social media – ranging from blogs, social networks such as Facebook and good old-fashioned mobile phones – were quickly and effectively used by students (especially) to find out and communicate what was happening.
From Information Week early today:
Virginia Tech students and staff reported on what appeared to be the deadliest shooting on a U.S. college campus as it unfolded, using blogs, social networking sites, podcasts, and cell phones to do it.
With their Web server down, contributors to the campus newspaper the Collegiate Times filed blog entries on their parent company’s Web site beginning at 9:47 a.m. as they attempted to confirm information about two Monday morning university shootings, which left at least 22 people dead and many more injured. ABC reported 29 dead by Monday afternoon.
[…] Students and faculty communicated with each other during the crisis through instant messaging and e-mail. A student captured the sound of several gunshots on campus. By the afternoon, the university had posted a podcast of statements from its president, Charles Steger.
A simple example, albeit under tragic circumstances, of how social media is now just part of the overall communication mix.