The terrible news out of Mumbai was a global news event that really showed me how Twitter is so well integrated into the social networking news stream. Last Monday night, the Toronto tech community amplified the power of Twitter. I recently started using TweetDeck to follow my Twitter stream. Besides separating my public and private timelines, it provides a tagcloud showing trending keywords. Before the news broke over major news networks I noticed something very big in the tagcloud. In a font significantly larger than all the rest of the tags was written one word.
The next several hours were dominated by that word and variations. Twitter had become not only an immediate source of news but also a means of on the ground communication for friends and loved ones. It served as a jumping off point to other destinations for finding loved ones.
It started as a simple notice, shortly after, that some people were going to get together at The Drake to organize a tech industry related Christmas party. Two weeks later on December 15th a sold out Mod Club had donated space for over 600 tech industry revelers to attend a Christmas charity event that raised over $25,000 and donated food for the Daily Bread Food Bank.
I was blown away by the speed at which a small and dedicated group of individuals were able to spread the word of this event within two weeks. On a daily basis I saw the hashtag #hohoto appear from my fellow Twitterers all providing their support for the Daily Bread Food Bank through their commitment, purchases and donations via the HoHoTo party. It compelled me and I'm sure others to purchase a ticket, make a donation and contribute non-perishable items for this excellent cause. Alexa Clark and Rob Hyndman give a nod to Austin Hill for inspiration and give credit to Twitter for promotion in this video by Mark McKay.
Twitter allowed a small group of individuals to leverage their social network connections and quickly promote an event in a way I've not seen before. Being able to watch the momentum was fascinating and shows that Twitter is both useful as a communication tool and a promotional tool. As Rob Hyndman said when I was leaving the event, "Just think what we could have done if we had more time".
See you next year!