From stratosphere to Twittersphere

May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Space may be the final frontier but the sky will soon be the limit for air travellers everywhere as texting, emailing and tweeting become increasingly adopted by airlines and civil aviation authorities all over the world.

Earlier this week, an American woman travelling between New York and Palm Beach, Florida, captured rare and beautiful images of the space shuttle Endeavour as it broke through the clouds on its way into orbit.

Within minutes of sending the images on Twitter, NASA had seen it and a number of American news organisations including CBS and NBC had also joined the party, retweeting Stephanie Gordon’s photos all around the world.

Here’s another photo of what a space shuttle flight looks like at 10,000 metres from the window of a passenger airliner.

This simple act catapulted Ms Gordon to temporary fame as she became the focus of dozens of Twitter messages congratulating her on the images on her iPhone. She also made a brief video of the launch.

As @StefMara, who describes herself as “just a girl who loves her sports and looks forward to working in the industry again”, tells it, simply scroll down to read how the tweets unfolded:

Three things about my flight: I can lay down across 3 seats just fine, it was freezing & I got to see this. http://twitpic.com/4yg4ur

Here’s another Photo of the shuttle from my plane. http://twitpic.com/4yg6hs

Video of the shuttle launch. http://twitvid.com/W5SRJ

@LizStrand @MelissaCarter my plane Flew right past the shuttle! http://twitpic.com/4yg91a

Thanks everyone for the RTs. I am overwhelmed!!!

@StadiumInsider I had to turn off my twitter notifications because it was killing my battery! Thanks for the RT@JimCantore @HeatherCrawshaw

OMG!!! @NASA retweeted my photo!’n

@StadiumInsider CBS & NBC have already contacted me!

I cannot keep up with all the RTs and tweets. This is crazy. Guess it’s a good thing I woke up on my flight!

OMG!!!!! RT @BreakingNews: RT @Stefmara takes a photo of the Shuttle Endeavor from her plane http://bit.ly/kFPjzr

For everyone asking. I was flying from NYC to Palm Beach Airport. Had been sleeping most of the flight.

Hi new followers. Warning, most of my tweets are baseball and hockey. Feel free to continue to follow if you don’t mind sports tweets.

Woohoo! Dad is finally ok with me being on twitter!

RT @MajorMikeLyons: RT @CBSNewsTech: Woman on plane films Endeavor rocketing to space http://bit.ly/moCpXv Way to go @stefmara! @cbsnews

Texting, emailing and tweeting from flights has only become a recent feature for New Zealanders and Australians. It seems Americans have been doing it for some time. Inflight wi-fi is widely available in the United States and, according to this article from last year, over half of American domestic airlines were offering high speed broadband.

Very few people are lucky enough to see a space shuttle soaring above the cloud. It’s a lovely story and highlights yet again how the social web and mobile technology have wedded to unleash a scarcely believable potential to share experiences. It helps to be in the right place at the right time and it wouldn’t be possible without a smart phone.

What are your experiences of using email, texting and Twitter on a flight? I’d love to read your comments.

The latest Christchurch earthquake told on social media

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

A major earthquake has again struck Christchurch and this time to even more devastating effect. Again Twitter showed its value as the fastest news platform as information spread spontaneously through the Twitersphere along with images and video of the destruction.

The hashtag most used was #eqnz following on from the September earthquake that caused widespread devastation while #chch was also employed to aggregate quake tweets.

Twitpics were published in minutes. Dyedredlaura posted these images of damage and within an hour they had received thousands of views.

[Pictures by @dyedredlaura]

 

This one of dramatic damage to Christchurch cathedral received over 14,000 views in under an hour and subsequent information suggested that people remained trapped inside.

[Picture by @tesswoolcock]

This early video also of a rockfall flattening a building and parked cars was also posted by ypud within minutes of the initial shock.

Photos and videos were quickly picked up by the news media and republished on their websites.

Tweets also began to be circulated among the Twitter community requesting information about the safety of particular individuals, families and schools. Warnings from Civil Defence and telco companies also circulated advising worried relatives and friends to send text messages or make short calls to prevent the phone system from becoming overloaded.

By and large, the news media were quicker off the mark for this earthquake because unlike the September quake that struck before 5am on a Saturday morning, this week’s big quake occurred during lunchtime during a weekday.

News organizations were able to mobilize their reporting resources quickly using their local reporters. This was essential as Christchurch Airport had been closed by the quake and flights diverted away.

TV3, stung by criticism over its decision not to roll live coverage of the earlier quake on the same day while TVNZ did, this time did so. Both TVNZ and TV3 began live streaming from the earthquake zone on their websites. Both were effective but a bit slow to work because of understandably high user demand.

Live updates were also available on most of the main New Zealand news websites within the hour.The New Zealand Herald began theirs at 1pm which is good work considering the quake struck at 12.51pm.

Stuff website’s first entry was at 1.33pm. But a mitigating factor could have been technical issues affecting the quake-hit news room of The Press which is right next to The Square. This SOS did go out on Twitter: “All hands on deck in newsroom but we’re battling with huge tech issues. @PressNewsroom damaged, trying to update #eqnz”

Scrolling down to the beginning, TVNZ appears to have logged in its live updates that the quake struck at 12.51. It has also been running a live Twitter feed using #eqnz on its news frontpage.

Disappointingly, Radio New Zealand’s website does not appear to have the capability for publishing images or video, instead focusing on old school broadcasting, although it does utilise a live audio stream.

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