Wednesday, September 29, 2010

University of Texas Campus Shooting/Suicide via Twitter and Keepstream

Yesterday many of us in Austin, Texas awoke to a scary reality. There was a gunman who had fired shots on the University of Texas campus and fled to the Perry Castaneda Library where he eventually shot himself with an AK-47 assault rifle. There was a common thread that bound all the information flowing over the internet, television, radio and print publications, Twitter.

Twitter made it possible for the Austin-American Statesman, my friend Drew Carls (@drewcarls), news agencies and residents stay informed, safe and reassured that they were getting real-time, accurate reports on the events going on at the campus. Most of us had a real fear someone we know would be injured. Through Twitter, Carls was able to communicate to his friends, family and most importantly, the mainstream media what events were actually happening on campus according to him and colleagues.

I read a tweet from @statesman (who did an amazing job reporting story) around 8:30am describing a possible shooter on the UT campus with a promise of more information soon. Quickly I jumped on my computer to look at Twitter and get some real-time reports. I was reminded of the unfortunate plane crash/suicide earlier this year in Austin. The way law enforcement, media, university officials and citizens all used Twitter, Facebook, text messaging and mobile devices to communicate was much the same as that other tragic incident.

Below, I have embedded a rather long Keepstream Collection which I attempted to edit by removing repetitious tweets. If there are any omissions, repeated tweets or other errors, they are my own. Thanks to Jim England and Tim Gasper (Keepstream developers) for the beta key and opportunity to use the content curation tool to highlight yesterday's tragic event.

Rather than present my opinion on what I think technology means to news reporting and public safety, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.