Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Radiation Flowing LIke a River

Interesting New York Times story regarding the impact of social media -- Twitter in particular -- in the current Japanese nuclear crisis. One of the key points were the fear that "unregulated" media would lead to wide-spread dangerous rumors.

I saw my own example of this from an American source:

"tweet reports massive radiation leaks from nuclear reactor in village guess he saw it spilling out like river flow"

On first read, I missed the "guess". I'm thinking what kind of idiot thinks radiation pours out like water from a nuclear plant and what kind of fear-monger repeats it. Second day reflection, perhaps it was an attempt at a joke -- dangerous in 140 characters when you mash together a run-on sentence.

What's interesting is the tweet is from the very first day of the catastrophe in Japan. At the time, there weren't any significant radiation leaks. At least, that's what we were told.

With the problems of receiving accurate information early from the authorities -- or any information -- traditional media and the public are turning to social media. Nature abhors a vacuum, and saying nothing or understating the problem to avoid panic is going to lead to the public finding the information from whoever they can or assuming for themselves, usually the worst case scenario.

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