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Twitter Postscript: Earthquake!

Sitting at one’s desk in New York, one feels a tremor. Dreaming? Naturally one turns to cyberspace.

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting an earthquake just moments ago, but it’s in Virginia. That’s 300 miles from here—impossible. Or is it?

The real-time seismograph from the Lamont-Doherty observatory is not responding. That in itself seems like a sign.

Then there’s Twitter. Sure enough! Markos says it’s 5.8 in the DC area. Aaron Stewart-Ahn says he felt it in Brooklyn. Irfon-Kim Ahmad says he felt it in Toronto. Colson Whitehead is right in there:

Several of my followers respond to a query within minutes, including Ismet Berkan, in Turkish: “sen o kadar bilim kitabi yaz, sonra da bunu sor.” Andy Borowitz reassures his followers that Justin Bieber is unharmed. And Maria Popova sums up: “Yep. We’ve just had an earthquake. And tweets about it travel faster than seismic waves.”



  1. Cathy Fuerst says

    And I thought the washing machine was imbalanced. However, the 22-year-old in the house flew down the stairs waving his laptop: It’s an earthquake! He’s been queasy ever since. While I did not tweet about the earthquake, it was all I heard about on the sidewalks yesterday late into the evening, a camaraderie, even, connecting people, enlivening street conversations.

  2. Jeffrey Newman says

    Just popped by to remind myself particularly of Mandelbrot, 6 degrees of separation, Milgram, ‘Chaos’ and twitter – and found this.

    So, thinking of you all in NYC before Irene checks in.

    I’m amazed about the ‘false intimacy’ that twitter provides – yet those tweets provide true information, not false.

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