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The Bad News Network: Twitter, Facebook and Liveblogs

Yesterday was not a good day for the District of Columbia and its neighbors. And, like on many other bad-news days, the Internet was there to tell the story of Metro's two-train collision in real time.

Somewhat to my surprise, nobody seems to have been Twittering from either train. But that status-update site quickly filled with updates about the event from people watching it online and on TV -- some of the first photos to emerge on the Web were screen captures of TV news reports.

Facebook updates took a little longer to reflect the news -- the site definitely operates in a slower gear than Twitter -- but became the easiest way to verify that friends who live on the east end of the Red Line were alright (this was before I realized that the two trains were heading into the city, not out of it).

Meanwhile, local blogs -- The Post's Get There and Washington City Paper's City Desk but also such volunteer efforts as DCist and We Love DC -- published several thousand words' worth of updates, starting within a half hour or so of the collision and refreshed every few minutes for much of the evening.

(Metro's own status updates, as seen on displays and heard in announcements in stations and as sent to riders' phones via text messages, were much less informative. I realize that you don't want to freak out people trying to get home with all the gory details, but it's still a stretch to label a train wreck as "mechanical difficulties.")

Barely an hour after the collision, a colleague noted that Wikipedia had already noted the event. Today, that page has grown to include an extensive account of the accident, thoroughly linked to news accounts and background material after hundreds of revisions.

It's amazing how quickly the Internet can surface and synthesize our knowledge of an event, isn't it? But it's a lot more rewarding to watch this happen when there's good news involved.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 23, 2009; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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Comments

AH !!!

MY COMMENT IS BEING HELD FOR APPROVAL OF THE BLOG OWNER !!!

THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH QUOTES FROM POSTERS OF THE ONLINE EDITION OF THE WASHINGTON POST.

GUESS I SHOULD HAVE TWITTERED INSTEAD !!! LOL

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | June 24, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Can all involved in the Washington Post Electronic Edition PLEASE start using the
'same magic words' that raised posting issues, so we know what intentional misspellings will be allowed and which ones will not be allowed.

For example, a derogatory compliment for a lawyer might be the term A..hole, where the periods are filled in with the character '$' But when that is done here, it apparently flags the 'hold for the blog owner,' whereas thruout the remainder of the WaPo, it does NOT.

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | June 24, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

brucerealtor: The only held comment that I see with your name uses the a-word--in all caps--right at the start. Since the text below the "Post a Comment" heading here warns that "User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site," I don't think there's any mystery about what happened.

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | June 24, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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