Micro-connections and the speed of news

I think we’ve forgotten something recently.  I think we’ve forgotten how easily social networks allow us to connect with unbelievable speed and accuracy.

There was a time when connecting with old high school or college friends meant contacting your reunion coordinator.  Sending emails.  Phone calls.  Snail mail.  Or worse yet, actually attending a reunion (I’m joking…sort of).

Now, we are able to locate old friends with Facebook accounts in 5 minutes during a coffee break.  One friend leads you another – and down the rabbit hole you go to find dozens more by accident.

Well, not really by accident.  It seems like synchronicity when you stumble upon a friend through another friend’s Facebook account, but it’s not luck at all. It’s good design.

A new speed

So what if we could take this speed to the next level?  What if we could temporarily connect with individuals involved in specific events while they are actually happening?

Yes, we have the ability to peer into blogs, Twitter streams, Brightkite check-ins, Flickr photostreams, etc.  But there isn’t a mechanism to allow us to connect with hundreds or thousands of people at once.

I am talking about something like the Emergency Broadcast System, but using a temporary two-way communication instead of a one-way communication.  Since it would operate over the internet (and not the airwaves) targeting could incorporate very detailed geographic information.  It would need to operate across multiple social networks to incorporate as many users as possible.

Is this a crazy idea?  Probably.  Ok, absolutley,  but think of the amazing life-saving information it could facilitate.  Think of it as crowd-casting at the microscopic level with with gateways to networks opening and closing when needed.

What do you think?

(The photo above is race car driver Bob Burman, from the Library of Congress.  He drove in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.)

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3 Responses to Micro-connections and the speed of news

  1. IwasFramed says:

    Perfect example: During Hurricane Ike I lost all power in sugarland at the height of the storm only communication I received was from twitter posts via http://twitter.com/KTRKHouston which has since been shutdown..

  2. IwasFramed says:

    Sorry for the wrong website

  3. G says:

    David,
    I think there is a spark of something really interesting here when you merge this idea with Matt Thompson’s ideas about bringing context to journalism.

    Imagine a not-so-far-distant world where newspaper groups make a concerted effort to build topic pages that weave together people, places, things, and ideas that show up regularly in articles. I’m thinking something like Times Topics or Daylife, but it could just as easily be some permutation of a wikipedia model.

    Now imagine, you’ve learned a little bit from some of the new best practices of putting up local business listings…allowing folks to suggest updates/corrections and putting up a button allowing the owner to claim their page.

    What you’ve created at this point is the foundation of a public social network…the key is that instead of having the connections being made between friends, the connections are now being made between what you and the folks who are behind the the people, places, things that are of interest to you.

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