Twitter’s quicker debate over

The BBCs Rory Cellan-Jones wonders whether Twitter has come of age with the earthquake that struck Sichuan province in China this morning,

Let’s see, as this story unfolds, whether this is the moment when Twitter comes of age as a platform which can bring faster coverage of a major news event than traditional media, while allowing participants and onlookers to share their experiences. link

I didn’t know anything about the earthquake until I picked up on a (private) tweet from Rebecca Mackinnon in Hong Kong. A quick blast through Twitter using Tweetscan and it soon became clear the Tweetsphere was abuzz with chatter and information sharing about the earthquake. It also became clear news was coming out quicker on Twitter than by more established means. Some pictures appeared on Flickr within an hour of the quake. Meanwhile Robin Hamman points me to a tool that automatically translates what Chinese Twitterers are saying about the earthquake.

There’ll no doubt be plenty more pondering about the value of the microblogging tool Twitter. But, what with breaking the news of the Chinese earthquake before the mainstream media and with the likes of Andrew Heavens providing updates as they happen from the streets of Khartoum, maybe the time for debate is over. If it’s speed you want, Twitter delivers – which is one of the many reasons I put together the social media news tracking course for the Frontline Club in the first place.