In the immediate minutes and hours following the devastating earth quake in Haiti, long before the reporters and the relief efforts got underway, the social networks were abuzz with tidbits of information streaming in from on people the ground. "heavy earth quake right now!" "I see at a distance clouds of dust." "Hundreds of dead body in the collapse of Hotel Montana." "parts of the Palace have collapsed." "Phones seem to be out. . . . Communication is at a standstill."
This is a similar trend that has been witnessed during a recent quake near Eureka California earlier this month, the miracle landing on the Hudson river, and the wild fires that ravaged Los Angeles in '09. The trend is being dubbed "self-reporting" and for many, including myself, has been the first alert to breaking news around the globe. More than just a social network, sites like Twitter are becoming our Bat Signal, informing us that something worth taking note of is happening, and perhaps in many cases is a true perspective on situations from those going through them first hand rather than those concerned with ratings and appeasing advertisers.