Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Power and Speed of Social Media

About an hour ago, Twitter erupted with condolences for Apple's late innovator, Steve Jobs. The speed at which the sad announcement travelled amazed me. In addition to Twitter, it was (and still is as I'm writing this) in nearly every post on Facebook and Google+ too, not to mention a random chat message from a friend on Skype. It made me wonder how quick information travels on the web - so I conducted a quick experiment.

First, I went to Wikipedia. Educators frequently discourage students from using the social encyclodpedia, citing its alleged poor or inaccurate information. Yet, someone had already edited Mr. Jobs' entry to reflect the very recent passing. Below is the screen shot.

Next, I went to the Associated Press homepage. In the news world, I would consider this to be the undisputed key source for print and media journalists. I quickly found the Apple press release announcement confirming Jobs' passing. Below is the screen shot.

Take a close look at the two images. Notice something interesting? The AP release was issued at 7:50pm. The Wikipedia entry was visited at 7:52pm. That means - at most - it took just two minutes for contributors to update the entry.

I just glanced at the clock. I still have two hours before my local news station airs its first story about Steve Jobs.

How's that for the power of social media?

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