When students at Virginia Tech wanted to let friends and family know they were ok – they created groups on social networking sites like Facebook. These social networking platforms, heretofore used for far more lighthearted purposes, proved to be a quick and efficient method of not only communicating but also organizing into meaningful groups.
Without in any way diminishing the terrible events that unfolded yesterday, the way people used these new technologies illustrates both their pervasiveness and utility. Emergency response organizations would do well to take these examples into account – in this case, students self-organized and set up their own “communications centres”, places where friends and family could locate them, freeing up valuable resources.
What a horrible way to learn something.
Update: More along the same lines (but better written & thought out) from Marianne Richmond at BlogHer.