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USGS Develops Twitter-Based Earthquake Detection

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the whole-lotta-shaking-going-on dept.

Science 95

sprinkletown writes "A team of seismologists at the US Geological Survey has found that Twitter is the fastest way to get information out of an earthquake area, especially in those less densely populated. Seeing the Twitter community as an untapped resource, the USGS has developed a new way to track earthquakes by clustering quake-centric tweets."

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First post! (2)

FunkyRider (1128099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689604)

Earth quake! Run!!!!

Re:First post! (2, Informative)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689694)

You're a few hours late, but yes, we did have a magnitude 4.2 earthquake here in the Bay Area this morning. Of course, I'm from Cleveland, so I just assumed it was another big truck passing by the building, until I realized that I was nowhere near a major road.

I was impressed, though, at how quickly the USGS did send us all an e-mail detailing the quake, epicenter, magnitude, etc. They are certainly on the ball when it comes to the San Andreas fault, at least.

Now if we could only find a way to get advance warnings... unfortunately a time machine may be the most physically feasible method of doing that.

Re:First post! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689756)

Shock waves in rock travel slower than light. So if the quake can be detected at the source (under ground) a message can be sent ahead of the shock wave to give a few seconds notice.

Re:First post! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689778)

Fuck Twitter. God damn, it's a web site and you can put small messages on it that other people can read. That's all it is and ever was. Get the fuck over it already.

Hey, I said hello by Twitter! Oh yeah, well I said hello and two exclamation marks by Twitter! Oh shit, that's new and interesting because it happened on Twitter!

Re:First post! (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689838)

it's a web site and you can put small messages on it that other people can read. That's all it is and ever was.

I share your sentiment, but realize, HTTP is a method of transferring files. That's all it is and ever was.

HTML is a method of marking up content. That's all it is and ever was.

Instant Messaging is just email, but faster. That's all it is and ever was. ...until you realize that it's not the technology behind it, but how people use it, that make it what it is. When Twitter is used as a blog site, it's exactly as useless as you suggest. [penny-arcade.com] When it's used as a conversation, that's somewhat different.

So no, I don't use it, but I think I'm starting to get what it's about.

Re:First post! (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697516)

This is exactly what I've been thinking about.
The best use case for twitter to me really sounded like machine updates. Mostly because its the only application that seemed sustainable.
A person twittering sounds great and all, until that person suddenly is too busy to update and then its worthless to any followers.
Following a machine, or maybe an organization seemed much more on target.

Re:First post! (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30705280)

The best use case for twitter to me really sounded like machine updates. Mostly because its the only application that seemed sustainable.

I'm not sure what you mean by that.

A person twittering sounds great and all, until that person suddenly is too busy to update and then its worthless to any followers.

I think you just missed my point, though -- take the imaginary cocktail party again. Some people will have to go to the bathroom, some will get sick or tired and go home. That doesn't mean the conversation ends, unless you have such a sad social life that you're only talking to that one person.

Again, think of it not as microblogging, but as a slightly slower but MUCH bigger IRC.

Technologically, I actually despise Twitter. There have got to be a dozen different ways it could be done better, relying on existing standards and properly distributed. Socially, I despise the fact that people seem to have picked up on it as the Next Big Thing, much like Facebook, Myspace, blogging, or the Internet itself. Think about it -- "ExecTweets" is a real thing, and it's completely missing the point.

Oddly enough, the best [twitter.com] demonstration [twitter.com] of [twitter.com] Twitter [twitter.com] I [twitter.com] have [twitter.com] seen [twitter.com] is fictional [questionablecontent.net] . Just remember, it's not a blog, it's a conversation -- you have to actually pick apart the threads to get some of the humor.

Re:First post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689930)

It's not the medium; it is what you do with it.

Re:First post! (1)

CecilPL (1258010) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690148)

Fuck the telephone. God damn, it's a damn piece of wire and you can say things on it that other people can hear. That's all it is and ever was. Get the fuck over it already.

Hey, I said hello by telephone! Oh yeah, well I said good morning by telephone! Oh shit, that's new and interesting because it happened on the telephone!

Re:First post! (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689800)

True, though I was kind of hoping for a warning that would let me at least stay off the roads or something on Earthquake Day. I know people talk about giving enough advance warning to stop driving and pull over, but can you imagine a CA highway packed full of cars traveling at 55 MPH at somewhat-less-than-safe-distance all trying to "stop driving and safely pull over" at once? Eeeeew.

Re:First post! (2, Insightful)

drfreak (303147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690184)

That reminds me of the oil light on a Lincoln Continental. It lights up, then a few seconds later, your engine seizes!

A few seconds warning sometimes just adds to the drama of the inevitable. In the relativity of time, that means if we got a few hours warning of an imminent asteroid impact, it would just be enough time maybe for a little mass-hysteria and to kiss your family good-bye. :)

Re:First post! (1)

bit9 (1702770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690258)

So if the quake can be detected at the source (under ground) a message can be sent ahead of the shock wave to give a few seconds notice.

I agree that a few seconds notice is definitely better than zero notice, but in all reality, a few seconds notice is not likely to measurably increase your chances of survival. It might help people avoid minor injuries such as is often caused by falling debris, etc. But it won't do much to reduce the overall number of fatalities.

If you're indoors, a few seconds is enough time to perhaps crawl under your desk, or get to the nearest doorway, but for the vast majority of earthquake-related deaths, neither of those things would have substantially increased anyone's survival odds. Most earthquake deaths are caused by buildings or other structures like bridges and freeway overpasses that suffer catastrophic collapses.

I'm all for anything that gives people any kind of advance warning of earthquakes. Such warnings will undoubtedly save many people from injury, and maybe even save a few people from death. But it will not substantially reduce the number of deaths, at least not directly. If anything, reducing the number of people with minor injuries inundating local hospitals and overwhelming local emergency services will free up those vital resources to rescue people with more serious injuries.

But to really make a dent in the number of deaths would require a major infrastructure overhaul. Namely, the quake-proofing of the thousands upon thousands of buildings and other structures that are currently vulnerable to a major earthquake. We in the developed world tend to think of high earthquake-related death tolls as being largely a third world problem, but even here in the Los Angeles area (where we really ought to know better), there are tens of thousands of buildings and structures that would suffer severe damage if LA took a direct hit from a large quake.

So, yeah... A few seconds warning is better than nothing, but just don't count on it to save your life.

Also, don't overlook the fact that not everybody is going to receive that few-second warning in time to do anything about it. Unless you (or someone in close proximity to you) happen to be glued to the USGS Twitter page, chances are the shaking will be your first warning that an earthquake is underway.

Re:First post! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690322)

Also, don't overlook the fact that not everybody is going to receive that few-second warning in time to do anything about it. Unless you (or someone in close proximity to you) happen to be glued to the USGS Twitter page, chances are the shaking will be your first warning that an earthquake is underway.

All good points, but now that mobile phones are pretty ubiquitous I would like to see a universal notification system as a mirror of the universal access to emergency calls they already provide.

Re:First post! (1)

bit9 (1702770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690490)

Sounds like a good idea, but I wonder if it might, in certain circumstances, be more harmful than helpful. What if you're cruising down the freeway at 70mph and all of a sudden your cellphone and/or radio, along with *EVERYONE* else's, starts screaming "EARTHQUAKE! EARTHQUAKE!" ? Seems like every year or two, you hear about a 100-car pile up caused by something stupid like fog or hail. I shudder to imagine what the possible unintended consequences would be if everyone's cellphone started screaming out an alarm.

And not just on the freeway, either. Having lived in the LA area all my life (37 years), I've been through my share of quakes - most small, but also a couple moderate-to-major ones. It seems like every time we have a quake of any significant size, we hear about at least one or two cases of someone dying of a heart attack (presumably due to the stress caused by the sudden violent shaking). I wonder what a sudden, synchronized blaring of cellphone alarms would do. Not to mention the general panic that would ensue. Imagine being in a crowded mall when the alarm goes off that a major earthquake is imminent. People generally don't seem to respond very well in those circumstances. Usually, there's a small fraction of people who stay calm and try to help others, while everyone else just goes ape shit. I mean, this is a country where people have been trampled to death at Walmart trying to get day-after-Thanksgiving deals.

I'm not saying a general emergency alarm system isn't a good idea. In fact, we already have one here in California, and I don't know why the USGS doesn't just tap into that instead of using Twitter - maybe it's because there are more people glued to their computers these days than to their TVs or radios. But with a device as ubiquitous as a cellphone, I have serious concerns about whether or not it would do more harm than good, ESPECIALLY when you're talking about an event such as an earthquake where you're only getting a few seconds of warning. My guess is that there would be an inverse relationship between the number of seconds of advance notice you give people, and the degree of chaos and panic it causes.

Anyway, just something to think about. I'm glad it's not my job to make such decisions.

Re:First post! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690740)

I work in air traffic control, sometimes on the Human Machine Interface and I have done some UI design on that system. Even on our systems this is a finely balanced area. You need to tell the controller that he has an emergency on one of his aircraft, but not create problems for the other aircraft he is controlling at the same time. With full control of the HMI specific colours are used for Alert and Emergency states. They are used nowhere else on the UI.

Now out in the real world the people you are notifying of your emergency could as you point out be asleep, driving, eating, having sex, flying aircraft, controlling nuclear reactors, performing surgery, and so on. The expected response from those people is different in every case. In no case do you want to add to their problems. But in all cases you need to deliver a specific message.

The only answer I can bring from my ATC background is that the alert condition has to be there in some form all the time. Its not something which just appears. It is something which transitions from off to on. Which is not to say I have all the answers either.

Re:First post! (2)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690324)

Generally useless.

The shock waves do indeed travel slower than light, but messages would take at least several seconds to be relayed, transmitted, received, and read by a human. An email in my office takes about six seconds to be routed within the building, let alone over a variety of wireless networks. A realtime message might make it out in under a second, but we're talking about shock waves that travel at 15,000-30,000mph and faster, with an damage radius on big quakes of 40 to 60 miles.

A middle case, say, 50 miles at 25k mph is about 7 seconds until the last person at risk feels it. If the message sent out is any longer than the word "earthquake!", the message generation, transmission, receipt, and processing by that guy's brain will end right at the same time the ground starts moving. And everybody closer than him will know before they get the message.

That's even assuming instant identification of an earthquake. In reality, it takes a few seconds to confirm the readings. So even that guy on the outer edge of the damage radius won't realistically get the message in time to do anything before the shaking begins.

People further out, who will feel the quake but aren't at any substantial risk of significant damage might get a few seconds' notice, but they don't really benefit from a warning in the first place, given their relatively minor inconvenience. It's like telling people on the extreme periphery as a hurricane makes landfall that it's going to start raining in a few seconds because a hurricane is making landfall somewhere else. They're not the ones who need the warning.

Re:First post! (1)

bobzaguy (1314455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30731128)

Were you hoping for carved rock phone books? They are really hard to keep in a drawer.

Re:First post! (1)

supersat (639745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689928)

You could get advance warnings if you can get the information out faster than the propagation speed of the wave [wikipedia.org] . I don't imagine it'd be too useful, except to possibly perform some sort of automated pre-earthquake tasks (parking hard drives, maybe?).

Re:First post! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690044)

When you have lived in California long enough you'll learn that:

    1) Tremors move through the Earth's crust just a little bit faster than the speed of sound. To put this in perspective, it's perhaps just about 50-70% faster than a modern jet airliner cruising at high altitude.
    2) If you've ever watched a modern jet airliner cruising at high altitude you know that telephone communication, radio and television, and even the internet travel much faster.
    3) Following a fairly large earthquake, there will usually be a series of light to moderate aftershocks from which you can calibrate your understanding of the speed of tremors.
    4) For instance, if talking across town on the telephone you will often notice that there is a substantial delay between one feeling the tremor and the other feeling the tremor.
    5) The more substantial the delay between when one feels the tremor and when the other feels the tremor, the more substantial the difference in level of excitement that will be displayed. The first to feel the tremor will be the more excited party.
    6) The epicenters of the aftershocks are not always in the same place, so it is possible that two observers talking on the telephone will reverse roles between (excited) and (calm) on subsequent tremors, sometimes even during a single telephone call.
    7) During the period of frequent aftershocks, one of the most enjoyable things you can do is climb to the top of a small hill overlooking a large flat valley and watch the effects of the tremor propagate across the terrain. Unforgetable majesty.
    8) These effects may be noted during/following a light to moderate aftershock, however, all bets are off during a large earthquake. You may wonder why a radio or television went off the air or why the power went off until you feel the tremor. But if you feel a huge earthquake first, you will lose power smartly and fail to hear when the radio station finally goes off the air.

I've been within a few thousand feet of the epicenter of four 6.0 or larger earthquakes during my adult life. Never once have I heard anyone scream during a major earthquake. I've heard people scream for 3.0 or smaller aftershocks, however. People are on edge already when aftershocks hit, and behavior changes.

Following the end of the 1994 Northridge quake, the first words out of my mouth were "Good one!", and my wife in effect said immediately "the baby's still asleep", but the extensive house repairs were not completed until four months after workmen began.

Re:First post! (1)

bit9 (1702770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690632)

1) Tremors move through the Earth's crust just a little bit faster than the speed of sound. To put this in perspective, it's perhaps just about 50-70% faster than a modern jet airliner cruising at high altitude.

Sorry, but that estimate is WAY off. There are several different types of seismic waves [wikipedia.org] , the SLOWEST of which travels at about 3km/s, or approximately 7000mph, which is about 1400% faster than an airliner's cruising speed (assuming a cruising speed of 500mph [wikipedia.org] ).

Re:First post! (1)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690790)

It is possible. Mexico City does it with the Sistema de Alerta Sísmica [harvard.edu] .

Twitter as a news search engine (4, Interesting)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689630)

I've used Twitter's search before (out of desperation) when my wife thought that we had an earth quake and I didn't.

To my surprise just 3 minutes later (time it took me to exhaust regular search engines), someone tweeted that they're having an earthquake a few miles away from where we live.

Since that day I've been using Twitter's search to find up to the minute updates for topics that interest me (Intel's SSD firmware bug, conferences, etc.).

I think Twitter is shaking up to be a very good source of news/information, if you can manage to find gems in the pile of "I just landed. WOOT!" tweets.

Re:Twitter as a news search engine (1)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689726)

I think Twitter is shaking up...

Grr.. I need more coffee. That's "is shaping up".

Or maybe "shaking" with all the earthquake tweets!

Re:Twitter as a news search engine (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689762)

I think Twitter is shaking up to be a very good source of news/information

The data, it seems, is quite frugal
When I type 'earthquake' into searchbar Google
The info, surprisingly, is much quicker and fitter
When I hear about it from that obnoxious source Twitter
Of course, only when anxious I'd do a desperate thing
And secretly type my query in Bing

Re:Twitter as a news search engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689980)

burma shave?

Re:Twitter as a news search engine (1)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690506)

I completely agree. I have only posted tweets for work purposes (an app we wrote has twitter support.... as everything does these days), but I search on twitter whenever I am trying to figure out up to the minute info on an event.

For example, a couple of days ago the police had a road near my house blocked off, and with a quick twitter search, I was able to learn that there were police and SWAT teams chasing a burglary suspect, and there were even posted pictures of the guy being taken into custody... all posted on twitter within a few minutes.

Twitter is perfect for that type of search, and up until now there has been nothing else that can satisfy that sort of up-to-date information gathering.

Thats a great idea (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689634)

Twitter users can be repurposed as sensors for vibration, voltage and even temperature!

Re:Thats a great idea (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689732)

Twitter users can be repurposed as sensors for vibration, voltage and even temperature!

And Walmart sales.

HELP ME!! I'M BURNING!! (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689746)

lol

Re:HELP ME!! I'M BURNING!! (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690586)

In theory you could create twitter and facebook user accounts for your servers or even services on the servers.

Then your stuff around the world could tweet stuff, and other stuff could be following them or even be fans of them.
e.g.
twitter
NOC: @MSExchangeServer @AD1 hey are you guys up?
MSExchangeServer: @NOC uptime 23:33:05

or:
CorpQuiz- "20 ways to know you are a Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Server" ;).
AD1's score 20/20
MSExchangeServer likes this
RedHatDBServer: lame...

CorpQuiz- "Group Policies checklist #1"
AD1's score 90/100
AD2: Uh oh...

macbookpro1 is a fan of Steve Jobs

survival law (1)

jweyrich (1453515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689640)

I always knew the whales were going to kill us.

What a bunch of nitwits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689710)

You want the national emergency broadcast system to rely on twitter? WTF have the people at USGS been smoking?

I'd rather die than depend on twitter in any way.

you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689758)

Go move to a country where your government DOESN'T warn you that a bunch of people are tweeting "help! i'm dying". Maybe during the extra lag in you getting an emergency notice, your house will fall on you and do us all a favor.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689870)

Go move to a country where your government DOESN'T warn you that a bunch of people are tweeting "help! i'm dying". Maybe during the extra lag in you getting an emergency notice, your house will fall on you and do us all a favor.

You are the poster child of why people who "tweet" are considered nitwits.
"help! i'm dying of thirst, somebody buy me a pepsi!"
"help! i'm dying, pepsi coming outta my nose lol!"
"help! i'm dying my hair blue and forgot to rinse!"
"help! i'm dying, read another idiotic /. comment by clintjcl, rotfl!"
"help! i'm dying, a house fell on me and i can't get up - clintjcl"

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689898)

And you're an idiot if you make an ad hominem attack in the face of the overwhelming truth:

Communication saves lives. Always has, always will. You are arguing against communication, saying that in an emergency, other people's communication is useless. Good luck supporting your argument in a conclusive fashion.

When the zombie attack comes, I'll definitely hear about it before you.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (3, Insightful)

electrons_are_brave (1344423) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689960)

We had a fire near our work and with twitter I found out what was on fire and some basic details long before either the online news or the radio had anything other than "firefighters are fighting a blaze in X" with nothing else.

The area concerned was heavily industrial, so it mattered to me what was on fire because of potiential fumes.

Twitter is fast and useful for that occasional use. Which is why the army of constant micro-bloggers needs to be encouraged. We can then tap into their otherwise pointless garbage about everything that happens every moment of their lives. Because when something does happen, they will tweet about that.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691832)

We had a fire near our work and with twitter I found out what was on fire and some basic details long before either the online news or the radio had anything other than "firefighters are fighting a blaze in X" with nothing else...

I had a fire in my pants and I twittered about it.

*couldn't help it*
-Taylor

Don't encourage this...Please. (2, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694074)

Twitter is fast and useful for that occasional use. Which is why the army of constant micro-bloggers needs to be encouraged. We can then tap into their otherwise pointless garbage about everything that happens every moment of their lives. Because when something does happen, they will tweet about that.

Please do me a favor and don't encourage micro-bloggers. The last thing I need is some dumb-ass walking into the IT field claiming to be a "professional" when the only thing on the resume is "Logged over 200,000 tweets" and "Level 233 Vampire"

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690048)

Communication saves lives. Always has, always will. You are arguing against communication, saying that in an emergency, other people's communication is useless. Good luck supporting your argument in a conclusive fashion.

If you haven't been able to figure out by now I'm arguing against the national emergency broadcast system relying on Twitter, then you indeed are a nitwit. I suggest you read up on SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), Twitter's reliability and security record and try to figure out, if you can, why using Twitter is not a Good Thing (TM) for this kind of system.

When the zombie attack comes, I'll definitely hear about it before you.

When you have anything intelligent to say I'll definitely find out about it on national TV.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690088)

So basically you're scared that 4chan will convince them to warn you of an earthquake or something? That's a small price to pay for those more cautious to be able to get potentially life-saving advice that YOU don't approve of.

Distributed input of unknown emergencies absolutely should be considered in any disaster scenario. I don't know if you remember 911, but I'm inside the DC beltway. You couldn't make cell calls OR land line calls [unless you were lucky] due to the system not holding it up. How was I getting updates? 1 line at a time, except from IRC, not Twitter.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690252)

Distributed input of unknown emergencies absolutely should be considered in any disaster scenario. I don't know if you remember 911, but I'm inside the DC beltway. You couldn't make cell calls OR land line calls [unless you were lucky] due to the system not holding it up. How was I getting updates? 1 line at a time, except from IRC, not Twitter.

Not from anyone in Manhattan, that's for sure. I was in NYC at the time and there was NO way anyone could make ANY kind of calls in or out of Manhattan, so your "unless you were lucky" statement is complete bullshit. Go back to 4chan and wait for that zombie attack tweet.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690268)

No, it wasn't bullshit. Landline calls would *occasionally* go through. I got to my parents after an hour of randomly trying every few minutes. So yes, I could make land calls if I was lucky. My use of "you" is meant "one", not "Anonymous Coward". Sorry for using an ambiguous colloquialism... But my statement was neither bullshit nor made up.

The point stands: Internet wins. And I heard stuff on IRC before it was on CNN. Oh, and in case you didn't figure it out, Twitter is Internet too.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690456)

No, it wasn't bullshit. Landline calls would *occasionally* go through.

NOT in or out of Manhattan. Do you know where that is? Ask someone on 4chan or IRC (#4chan or #clueless) for directions.

The point stands: Internet wins. And I heard stuff on IRC before it was on CNN. Oh, and in case you didn't figure it out, Twitter is Internet too.

This was never about the Internet, it was specifically about Twitter, so don't try to weasel your way out of an argument you lost. The Internet is not Twitter, but you are still a nitwit. Go read this [homelandsecurity.org] . Be warned: there's lots of information there, so your feed-me-one-line-at-a-time brain may get overloaded.

Since you seem to have the ability to "hear stuff" on IRC, you must have also "heard your parents" when you placed that call to them on 9/11 because they sure as hell didn't answer if they were in Manhattan at the time.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694872)

You still don't get it. I WAS NEVER TALKING ABOUT MANHATTAN. Really, you get fixated on one thing and completely stop listening.

And yes, Twitter is a communication platform over the internet. Just like IRC, just like email, just like the web. Only it allows you to input MUCH easier than ANY other medium, and you don't have to remember people's email addresses or run a server for people to get to that information.

That's why it's a success, and that's why it's not going away any more than facebook status updates [same thing, but they are closed to your friends instead of facing the public world] are.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690332)

The problem is, if someone warns me that there is an earthquake/fire/tornado/etc and there isn't -anything- I'm going to be a lot less willing to believe them a second time, or a third time. Think about car alarms, how many times have you thought "Someone's car is getting stolen! I should make sure to go out and check the parking lot to help assist the police!" my guess is, you've never thought of that, you thought "Someone shut that alarm off!". Now, do you really want emergency broadcasters to make warnings that are simply annoyances?

Communication may save lives, but if its annoying, misinformed communication people will soon tune them out.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690412)

Sounds like you're also making an argument about unannounced fire drills, and tests of the emergency broadcast system that don't announce themselves until they are over.

Too much is always better than not enough.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690520)

Yeah, because we all know how the story about the little boy who cried wolf ended with everyone running to his aid when there really was a wolf... oh wait...

Look at e-mail virus "Alerts", yeah, sometimes there is some truth to what they are saying but most of the time anyone who is the least computer savvy deletes them on sight. Do we want real alerts to be like this? Do we want SMS alerts to be so trivial that people won't even read them before deleting them? Do we want radio alerts to be so common that people just switch to a CD whenever they hear the annoying tone?

Of course not, so we need to use them very sparingly otherwise people will tune out.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694834)

If you find them trivial, unsubscribe. The fact of the matter, in a real emergency, twitter has more information than the TV [which you have to watch forever as they slooowwwly say stuff and cut to commercials], or the news websites. The DC metro collision helped prove this to me; I had accurate body counts 10-20 minutes before local news sites were updated. Each new body I knew about before the news sites posted it.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

rantingkitten (938138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690704)

Communication saves lives. Always has, always will.

Twitter is not communication in any meaningful sense of the word. It never will be.

I've had this argument before so I'll be brief: Yes, I've gone through the BS twitter logs of the Iranian crap and the Mumbai crap, the two incidents twitter-defenders love to bring up as examples of how twitter is a useful communications mechanism.

You illustrate this quite nicely:

When the zombie attack comes, I'll definitely hear about it before you.

No, you won't. Oh, maybe you'll hear about it, but you won't have any information that I won't. You'll know that "zombies are in the streets" and "reports of zombie attack in downtown" and "more zombies on the way". You won't know where, who, how, or anything else -- you'll know that zombies are "somewhere". And you'll act smug because you're so much ahead of the curve as the rest of us.

Here's a scenario for you to consider: While you're busy "tweeting" about the zombies your brains will get eaten because you were busy staring at your cellphone. I'll be the one getting away because I wasn't obsessing over freaking Twitter. Now what?

Without fail twitter is totally devoid of content or context. Every "tweet" is nothing but "situation is bad, lots of people fighting" rephrased in some form, or "reports of blah blah blah at something something something" because the user is "tweeting" what he's watching on TV or hearing on the radio, which means that information is already out there.

The Mumbai one was particularly awful, since every tweet was along the lines of "terrorists driving around shooting, no word yet if apprehended" or similarly pithy nonsense. You can't tell what's going on from such garbage. A report by an anonymous nobody that something bad is happening at some unspecified location in a vaguely defined geographical area is not information. It is not communication in the normal sense of the word, as nothing is being communicated.

That example is not cherry-picked either. The logs are freely available so anyone can do their own homework. "Tweets" that you call communication are in reality devoid of context, devoid of content, devoid of detail, and deliver absolutely zero insight into what's really going on.

The whole world knew what was going on in Iran through normal media channels without twitter. Twitter did nothing to facilitate understanding. Nor has it in any other situation, nor will it ever. As a medium, twitter is fundamentally worthless. Pretending like it's some grand new communications forum that will revolutionise the oppressed and impoverished is wishful Kool-Aid drinking.

Speaking for myself, I will be quite merry when Twitter finally collapses as the moronic fad that it is, just so people will shut up about it.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694796)

Twitter is communication. It's a poor man's RSS feed. You do know RSS, right? You get a link everytime something new comes out, which is exactly how the newspaper twitter feeds work.

You lose.

The best part is where you tried to redefine the word communication to your own subjective standards. Unfortunately for you, you don't get to rewrite the definitions of words. Even animals communicate, and they transfer way less than 140 characters of information when they do. And it saves their lives as well.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

rantingkitten (938138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698166)

Twitter is communication. It's a poor man's RSS feed. You do know RSS, right?

Yes, smartass. How Twitter is a "poor man's" version is unknown, though, considering they're both free. RSS lets you actually view a story or article. You know, information. Twitter is just a few words about "situation bad, everyone fighting" that tells you absolutely nothing. It is not at all analogous. At most, someone can put a "bit.ly" or other cutesy 2.0 BS shortened link up, but hey, if I was going to bother looking at that, why wouldn't I just, I don't know, USE RSS?

I was careful to define meaningful communication in my diatribe, something you apparently failed to notice. Graffiti on a bathroom wall is, if you want to get technical, a form of communication, but it's essentially meaningless. Twitter is the exact same thing -- short, incoherent messages from anonymous nobodies, about nothing, that provide no value to anyone, anywhere.

Twitter is the answer to a question nobody asked, and will never amount to anything of worth.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698332)

RSS feeds contain a link to the original article. Twitter feeds do the same. The only difference is, GASP, you have to click the link to actually read the article. Now tell me -- which method do you think you could get 100 non-techies to do? Answer: Twitter. RSS is "too hard". My "poor man" is poor in terms of technical prowess. Something that's easier and used by more people indeed becomes popular -- why do you think Mac beat out Linux?

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

rantingkitten (938138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698888)

No, Twitter can contain a link to the original article, as I mentioned, but most of it is just pointless babble. The fact that you can make shortened URLs through link-rotting BS organisations like bitly doesn't mean Twitter is anything like RSS. They're not even meant to be, and if you think that's the purpose of twitter, or even what people tend to use it for, you're deluded.

In conclusion, just because some idiots occasionally post tinyurls or bitlys does not grant legitimacy to Twitter, or mean that it is a useful means of communication. And frankly, why you'd want to sort through 500 "bitlys" a day from random jackasses posting nonsense is beyond me.

See for yourself. [twitter.com] This is what people are calling revolutionary, an exciting new medium, and proves that Twitter is awesome. Of course, when you look, it's nothing but vapid third-hand "information" based on what people who weren't even there are seeing on their own TVs or other news reports. Reading this, you get absolutely zero context, or even any real idea about what was going on, other than a vague sense that, well, the situation was bad and lots of people were fighting. In, it seems, a hotel. That tells us nothing.

I can turn the TV on and watch the news just as well as you can. I don't need "tweets" telling me about it. What mindless gibberish.

But hey, you keep pretending that anonymous hearsay is "information", champ.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30699118)

Most of ANY communication medium is "babble" to most people. I could just as easily claim that most television is babble - infomercials, american idol, advertisements. Or that most phone calls are babble - phone sex, psychic hotlines, housewives gossiping with other housewives. You seem to think you can define a communication medium by it's worst, but that's not how communication works. Just because some people talk shitty (literally, babble) doesn't mean oral language is useless.

You just don't seem to get it, and that's okay. Every new medium has been misunderstood and decried. People used to think email was stupid. People used to think the internet was just for porn. VHS and even cassette tapes were decried by the MAFIAA, albeit for different reasons. (Turned out they were wrong, VHS helped the MPAA get tons of rental money, and cassette helped the RIAA trick me into buying all my albums twice, sometimes thrice.)

A lot of news sources have twitter feeds that are the equivalent to RSS feeds. It's just as useful as RSS in this context. That it can be less useful in other uses doesn't mean jack; RSS can be useless in some contexts too! I've seen RSS feeds that are broken -- just a number, with no body. You have to click to get through. Bad apples do not mean all apples are bad; a concept you don't seem to get.

The fact of the matter is, most people can't figure out RSS [i've been trying to convince even my online-alot friends for 4+ yrs, it's NOT happening]. But virtually everyone CAN figure out Twitter. And virtually every news source has a twitter feed that they subscribe to for timely/not-having-to-manually-check updates in the EXACT SAME FUCKING FASHION that you or I would use an RSS feed.

Incidentally, i RSS subscribe to my twitter updates.

If a news source has RSS and Twitter, guess which I'm going to use? The twitter. Because it's 2 clicks - go to page, click follow. RSS requires a click, then another click to say add to google, then another click to say google reader, then another 2 clicks for me to tell it to sort oldest-first, then another 2 clicks per label I add, plus I rename the feed so that it appears in an organized fashion in my feed list (over 250 scriptions -- I want blogs to be together, so they all get named "blog: " at the beginning. Or "news: ". Or "comedy: ". Or "pictures: ").

Now going through that rigmarole is nice, but sometimes I just want to try something out. Guess what? The end result is exactly the same: I see things in my reader, and i click them to read the whole article.

Now you want to act like the best features of a medium mean nothing, and only the worst features mean anything. That's simply not reality. But if it were, then every medium is evil: Phone is only telemarketers, television is only infomercials, the internet is only child porn, telegraph is full of spam [check history: telegraph lines were hacked and spammed int he 1800s], speech is all profanity and babbling, and every communication medium in the world is useless.

Fortunately for reality, a communication medium is as useful as its MOST useful examples, not its LEAST useful examples.

BTW, I'd much rather get my news from rss/twitter feeds than from the TV. I canceled my cable and now save $600 a year [which would require earning some $900 a year pre-taxes to pay for]. So what you call "easier", I call "harder", because-- while I don't know how many hours you work-- you are doing a LOT MORE WORK to pay your cable bill to get your news. Way more than 2 clicks, no matter how you want to rationalize it away.

Re:you can die then, and do us all a favor (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30699162)

You also conveniently ignored my real life example of the DC metro subway collision. Actual body counts, subway rerouting information, and other info was available on twitter FIRST. Before the local news websites. Before the TV mentioned it. I know because I made it a point to compare them in order to evaluate how good the medium is. The fact of the matter was, it was EASIER than the news. It self-updated the page with new info. It didn't require waiting through commercials or paying for. It contained links to official stories in those cases that one existed. Hell, the entire DC Metro system has twitter feeds for every color line, so that people can follow the line they take and get UP TO THE MINUTE updates on train schedules. Crap that is minutiae the news does not cover!

Able to use a phone post earthquake (1)

drexlor (1314419) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689760)

Tweeting about earthquakes is hardly new — at least in twitter years. People turned to twitter during an earthquake in Southern California in July, 2008, after they finding they were unable to make or receive any cell phone calls, they could still use twitter via SMS or another mobile twitter app.

I find this solution to be really silly. After the Northridge Earthquake in Southern California in 1994, no one in the area could even use the phones. There was too many people trying to make calls for anything to work. The earthquake they're referring to was tiny in comparison. People should be looking to a battery based radio or working with their neighbors to figure out what is going on.

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689832)

Even if the phones are jammed up it's possible that SMS texts (to Twitter) can go out because, according to AT&T [att.com] [PDF] "Text messages often go through faster than wireless voice calls because they require fewer network resources. Most of AT&T's wireless devices are text- messaging capable."

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690090)

Except text messages are a sort of unintentional hidden feature that was expanded for the masses. Basically it sends them as a part of the control codes that would otherwise normally be sent (for more info find that old /. story about the marginal cost of text messages being zero). This is great because someone figured out how to send messages without having to really update any network infrastructure since it was already in the specs...you just had to put a user friendly UI on the phones.

The only problem is that it was never designed to be a high-reliability, instant service. This is why I got happy new years text messages from people on the east coast at 1AM central time....the system got overloaded with people trying to send messages at the same time and they took a long time to get delivered.

If you want a reliable form of communication, you need to open up a dedicated line of some sort where you know your message is getting through...either make a real phone call, or send something over a data connection that you can verify has actually been sent (email or IM)

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689846)

Tweeting about earthquakes is hardly new — at least in twitter years. People turned to twitter during an earthquake in Southern California in July, 2008, after they finding they were unable to make or receive any cell phone calls, they could still use twitter via SMS or another mobile twitter app.

I find this solution to be really silly. After the Northridge Earthquake in Southern California in 1994, no one in the area could even use the phones. There was too many people trying to make calls for anything to work. The earthquake they're referring to was tiny in comparison. People should be looking to a battery based radio or working with their neighbors to figure out what is going on.

Except.. they say that instead of phones we should use SMS because it's impact on the wireless network is far lighter (see every ./ article about price gouging at 20 cents per 140 characters). That said, if you are on AT&T and wish to use twitter during an emergency good luck trying to get your slice of bandwidth.

"Help, my internet is down!"

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (1)

Platinumrat (1166135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689976)

In Australia, the government and emergency services have, this year, implemented SMS alerts to warn people of natural disasters. This is in addition to the traditional methods: TV, commercial FM/AM radio and the national broadcast network. So basically all bases are covered this way. They ran a test earlier this year and it worked beautifully. Basically, since SMS is part of the background traffic for Cell phone, they can broadcast to the state or county or phones connected to individual Cell towers.

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (1)

slincolne (1111555) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690062)

yeah - but let's not get to carried away about this.

This season there have been people who received these messages - about a fire that occoured 12 days previously. The carrier technology is interesting, but as the emergency services people who manage the back end systems don't update them they are not what you consider reliable.

They are making these SMS's spacially aware - they use your billing address to work out where you are located. Unfortunately the billing systems have a habit of aggregating states. Tasmania is considered part of Victoria, so you have a whole state that gets warned when a fire occours in another state separated by a large body of water and no chance of it spreading.

The Australian solution is cr*p - it's not managed properly, not targetted properly, and is already viewed as unreliable.

At present the best way to stay informed is to buy a scanning radio receiver and tune into the local voluenteer fire brigade radio channels.

Twitter has the potential to be a much better solution than SMS - once you can easily look for tweets within a geographical area of interest. Couple that with staff who are IT savvy rather than good with the hose and there is a real chance this could be quite good.

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689852)

Bingo. In a real quake, infrastructure to support the mobile phones may get knocked out, and if not, it will surely be overloaded. Radio FTW.

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689868)

Think about the areas surrounding the really damaged area. If you notice a bunch of tweets coming from around an area, but not a particular area, you could still determine the approximate location of the quake. Just because it's a 7.0 in one city, doesn't mean it's still a 7.0 miles away.

Re:Able to use a phone post earthquake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690192)

I concur. I was 0.7 miles away from the epicenter of the Northridge quake. The house became completely dark during the quake where street lighting and nightlights had provided at least some light before it started -- however it was certainly not silent. The crashing sounds of breakage continued throughout the shaking. During the first few seconds of the "aftermath", in absolute darkness and only the sounds of automobile theft alarms, I noted that the pictures from the walls had scattered layers of glass everywhere. Walking in bare feet in the dark would be incredibly stupid. I was beginning to think I wouldn't find a solution, when startlingly the dial-button lights of my telephone lit up. No dial tone, however. In the light of the dial buttons I could easily find slippers and plot where to step to reach the closet where a flashlight could be found inside of a backpack. I left the telephone off-hook on the bed for maximum light. I walked through the flashlight darkness to go turn off the gas and water valves leading to the to the water heater. I couldn't get through the kitchen -- the layer of glass and ceramic chards was at least six inches thick from wall-to-wall, I could hear dripping noises and see erupting cans of soda. When I returned the bedroom, the telephone was no longer lit up. About 30 seconds later it lit up and there was an audible dial tone. I made two quick phone calls -- connected to two different family members -- and talked for a few seconds to each. We were not able to complete another telephone call until about 12 hours later. Travel by car was not reasonable for a couple of days from my street as every hundred feet or so the pavement was displaced so there was an 8-10" rise or drop.

Posting news at the speed of Slashdot (1)

tautog (46259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689772)

Even NPR scooped Slashdot this time:

From December 14, 2009 [npr.org]

Accelerometer Quake Detection (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689874)

A automated, networked, accelerometer-based quake detection process may be more reliable. Sure, a lot of mobile phones would be moving around, but if enough phones in the same areas showed synchronised movements, maybe this could work.

Re:Accelerometer Quake Detection (2, Informative)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689956)

A automated, networked, accelerometer-based quake detection process may be more reliable. Sure, a lot of mobile phones would be moving around, but if enough phones in the same areas showed synchronised movements, maybe this could work.

Those are called "seismographs."

Re:Accelerometer Quake Detection (1)

timothyf (615594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690174)

Additionally, the article specifically mentions that this is useful in cases where seismographs aren't present, and that the data collected through it isn't always stuff that seismographs can report.

Re:Accelerometer Quake Detection (1)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690728)

A automated, networked, accelerometer-based quake detection process may be more reliable. Sure, a lot of mobile phones would be moving around, but if enough phones in the same areas showed synchronised movements, maybe this could work.

Are you donating the resources to do that sort of data processing? There are a lot of cell phones out there, so you'd need a way of transmitting and accessing all that data (if you DO have an earthquake in the area, the communications lines will be either down or saturated, so you have to take that into account). Then, you'd need a way of determining which synchronized movements match a pattern, and not just random noise; then, finally, to determine whether the patterns are quake-related or not. (See those two isolated phones that are moving at a 0.75 Hz rate in perfect synchrony? It's not a quake, it's a couple dry humping in the middle of nowhere...) On top, you'd need to find a way of telling people that the tracking is not invasive of their privacy. Not sure how that would work out...

Re:Accelerometer Quake Detection (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691154)

There's already such a project underway from Stanford: http://qcn.stanford.edu/ [stanford.edu] . Doesn't extend to phones yet (as far as I know, though they're probably working on it) but will use the accelerometer in MacBooks, Thinkpads, other laptops that may have them, or you can get a USB attachment that has one for desktop computers. Works essentially as you describe.

Phones might be tough because they move around a lot with the person who carries it, but would be especially useful because if they've got an accelerometer it's likely they also have a GPS unit and a way to tell which direction it's pointing, which you don't have on laptops. If people were in the habit of leaving their phone on their desk while they're sitting there, it could certainly be useful - you could just ignore those with a lot of motion because obviously the person is moving around with the phone.

False hits? (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690028)

Twitter has also been know for false hits as well though, so how can one prevent such a situation?

Re:False hits? (1)

timothyf (615594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690196)

I dunno. Seismographs maybe? ;)

Seriously though, it's not like earthquakes aren't independently verifiable, and Twitter's usefulness is more as another source of data to mine about an event.

Faking the next San Fransisco earthquake, anyone? (2, Insightful)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690032)

This is a really bad idea because Twitter can so easily be utilized to spread misinformation. Look at all the "x is dead!!!!!!!!!!!!" shit that happens with celebrities.

Re:Faking the next San Fransisco earthquake, anyon (1)

ddxexex (1664191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690146)

You'd need a very large group of people in the same general area to pull that off. The "celebrity is dead" effect isn't going to cause a false positive for an earthquake because you'll have people mentioning it who aren't remotely close to the epicenter (like kansas or somewhere). And it doesn't really matter since it's only a complementary huh-that's-cool kind of detection, the real detection info should cancel out the misinformation..

Re:Faking the next San Fransisco earthquake, anyon (1)

forand (530402) | more than 4 years ago | (#30693490)

I don't think that they are going to use this to announce an earthquake but to determine location and propagation parameters. Their sensors can tell them for certain IF a quake hit long before twitter will say anything but they need to correlate other measurements to get a good location estimation.

A real purpose to Twitter (2, Insightful)

upuv (1201447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690068)

Seriously. This is the sort of thing twitter is really good at.

It's not knowing what Britney is eating for breakfast. Or how much a SKANK Malinda next door is. Or how much a bastard Billy is, oh but he's such a hunk. Or what color Aston K's turds are.

Thank goodness twitter popularity is dying.

Re:A real purpose to Twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690122)

how bitter of you. you're just upset because no one follows you. after all, who gives fuck all about what a lump of lazy shit you are?

Re:A real purpose to Twitter (2, Funny)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691796)

Seriously. This is the sort of thing twitter is really good at.

It's not knowing what Britney is eating for breakfast. Or how much a SKANK Malinda next door is. Or how much a bastard Billy is, oh but he's such a hunk. Or what color Aston K's turds are.

Thank goodness twitter popularity is dying.

OMG, Malinda is SUCH a skank!

You could combine this with a flashmob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690078)

And drown a bunch of wankers in a tsunami.

Quake Trolls (1)

grayshirtninja (1242690) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690094)

How long before a group of trolls picks up on this and starts creating false reports?

Build your own earthquake reflector (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690314)

If you're handy with a soldering iron the you should build this nifty Seismic Reflector [instructables.com] . From the website...

This project has two strands, a software and a hardware component. The aim is to build a device which responds to earthquakes being reported in near-real time via the USGS RSS feeds. The device responds by illustrating the magnitude of the reported earthquake via two fairly chunky vibration motors of the kind used in video game controllers. The device is connected to a PC via a virtual com port over USB (thanks to an on board Arduino). On the PC, an application sits there checking the RSS feed periodically and when a new event it posted to the RSS feed, the desktop app parses the data out of it and presents the magnitude of the quake to the Arduino which interpreters this as rate at which to activate the vibration motors.

geologists (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690352)

figures they would come up with such a horribly flawed plan. i remmeber the chief geo at a place i worked trying to explain to me how geologists weren't trained to think in uni, and how that's a good thing...

Re:geologists (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691198)

I'm not sure what kind of geologist you're referring to but that's a little insulting (IAAG)... there are people who don't learn to think in any field (including all the sciences) but geologists are not systematically not trained to think in university, that's bogus. In fact I'd say we are trained to think more than people in other fields of science, as true understanding of geological concepts is not easily obtained by reading or hearing about them and can't always be mathematically described.

To be fair, of course, you're probably referring to low-end industry geologists who are little more than technicians; if that's your goal in life as a geologist then sure, you don't have to think too much, same as any low-end science technician. Whether that's good for getting stuff done (taking orders blindly from the chief) I can't say, but I guess it would be.

Data API (1)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691300)

I just wish the earthquake data provided by the USGS was available through a web API. XML, JSON, whatever. I poked around and there's some quake data available through various obscure programs or protocols, but nothing easy to get at. Nothing I could find, anyway. Maybe someone else knows of something more useful?

Ironic name (2, Funny)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691344)

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

TWITTER
...
3. intr. To move tremulously, tremble, shake, quiver, shiver...

So, for an alternative article summary: the USGS will use twitterers on Twitter who are twittering about twittering.

[cue chorus of groans]

Re:Ironic name (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691818)

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

TWITTER ...

3. intr. To move tremulously, tremble, shake, quiver, shiver...

So, for an alternative article summary: the USGS will use twitterers on Twitter who are twittering about twittering.

[cue chorus of groans]

Yeaaaahhhh.... But less funny because you really didn't need the second "twitter", you had to force it. *Of course* the twittering twitterers are on Twitter, its the only place you *can* twitter. "Twitterers twittering about twittering" makes more sense. And actually, It's funnier. Hmm. And yes, I know I am ridiculous.
-Taylor

Re:Ironic name (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697482)

Thanks for the vote of (qualified) confidence. But since we're all being ridiculous, I should point out a minor flaw.

But less funny because you really didn't need the second "twitter", you had to force it. *Of course* the twittering twitterers are on Twitter, its the only place you *can* twitter.

From the OED again:

TWITTERER
A bird that twitters; also transf. of a person.

For example:

1834 R. MUDIE Feathered Tribes Brit. Isles (1841) I. 2 When the forest howls to its fury, driving the twitterers from the spray. 1890 O. CRAWFURD Round Calendar in Portugal 178 Several feeble-winged twitterers. 1895 J. G. WOOLLEY in Voice (N.Y.) 17 Oct. 2/1 A mere twitterer of lackadaisical platitudes.

etc.

Though it may be heresy to say such a thing on the internet, "twitterer" actually meant something before the online service existed. Hence, there are other places and ways for birds and even people to "twitter." And I don't even have to go into the many meanings of "twitter," even the ones applicable to people, which can vary from chattering to giggling to teasing to quivering with excitement.

"Twitterers twittering about twittering" makes more sense. And actually, It's funnier.

There, however, you're probably right. More concise is often funnier. :)

Re:Ironic name (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698256)

Well played sir, well played... :)
-Taylor

The evil donut (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30691502)

I've been thinking that if there is a really big one, we'll see a "donut" pattern when you map the data.

This mornings 4.1 (which I felt) was exciting, and tweet-worthy. The BIG ONE will not be tweeted near the epicenter. The power will go out. Even if it doesn't go out, you'll have better things to do.

Eventually the power would come back on and the hole would fill in; but I would think that the existance of the hole in the data would be one indicator of how strong the quake really is.

Has this ever been observed before in "crowdsourced" quake data?

Obligatory... (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694126)

Shakin' it over here Boss, Shakin' it over here!

I have lived in first person a twitted-quake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30695178)

Last month there was an earthquake ("terremoto" in spanish) in the South West of Spain and Portugal at 2:37 AM (local time=. Ten minutes later there were dozens of people twitting the event. Twitter was very fast and the primary source of information.
It was also blogged live: http://www.madeinhuelva.es/2009/12/terremoto-en-huelva-y-sevilla/

The second source of information was the USGS directly.

The third source of information were the radio stations, were people started to make phone calls providing information of the event.

Finally, a couple of hours later, the information appeared on national online newspapers.

So, definitely, Twitter+Blogs inform much better in real time.

Re:I have lived in first person a twitted-quake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30695548)

link to the blog with all the live information on the earthquake: http://www.madeinhuelva.es/2009/12/terremoto-en-huelva-y-sevilla/ [madeinhuelva.es]

Good use of twitter (1)

vtstarin (1679928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30705820)

This a really very good use of twitter.
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