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This is posted by Jessi Hempel, innovation editor, who will soon have her own blog.
Shortly after shots were heard on Virginia Tech’s campus, sophomore Katie Olsen logged onto her Facebook.com profile and started a new group: “I’m Okay at VT.” So far, it has 3,456 members. The first postings, messages written on the Web site’s “wall” just hours have the first shots, spread information faster than many of the more traditional channels available to students. At 2:18pm on the 16th, one student begins: “Many of us are all worried about our friends, so lets do this. If you are okay! Please update your status in facebook to say something like ‘i’m okay’”
It didn’t take long for the national media to catch on, and begin (like me) to lurk and watch. Says one guy: “so apparently ABC (all i know of) is using these posts in articles and in national broadcasts, so…if you don’t want something said to the whole nation don’t say it on here. It already happened to me…twice.”
Meanwhile, more than 500 groups have sprung up with name like “Always Remember Virginia Tech” and “Arkansas for Virginia Tech.” Students from every corner of the globe have used the “walls” to share their feelings, send prayer requests, debate gun control, and create graphic and video mashups in memorial. Within hours, hundreds of thousands of students had agreed to wear black and orange on the 17th, the Hokie school colors. And more than 301 events are listed, mostly rallies and vigils at other college campuses.
Meanwhile, many of the Hokies found themselves requesting a little virtual peace and quiet. Writes one student: “I too started getting messages from people from different countries wanting more and more info about the incident. some even went to the extent of asking me to record my reaction over a video cam and send it to them. Disgusting!” More than crowdsourcing, it’s crowdstalking….
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