It’s easy to say something new media professionals use and glow about is just a bunch of buzz by us. We glow on about things we’re using to dispense information, but are people really using it.
Take Twitter for example. While I know a great number of media professionals — writers, journalists, cartoonists, pundits, citizen journalists — who use the program, I don’t know nearly as many regular people who use it. I hear “what the heck is that?” whenever I mention it.
So when does a program like Twitter cross from media buzz to real use? It’s when real people are using it to dispense information or to learn about others.
One example of it is the Red Cross who was giving updates about Gustav (and then Hanna and now Ike) via Twitter. Leading up to Gustav, I was learning more about the preparations from the Red Cross Twitter page than I was from the mainstream media because there was so much focus on the Democratic National Convention.
Now the Scottsdale, Ariz. police department is using Twitter to dispense information.
The feed has news items, including a link to daily press releases, up-to-the-date information on a drowning and news on accidents. This is something I could have used for my own city yesterday. With Hanna in the area, there were many roads flooded and closed. I couldn’t find a place online to learn what roads in my area were closed and could affect my plans to go out.