Earthquake updates, via Twitter

A little less than an hour ago, I received a phone call from my 17-year-old son who is attending a month-long program at the University of Southern California. “There was just an earthquake” he said. “I’m okay,” he said. “It was legit.” I’m not sure exactly what the legit part was referencing. My mind was pausing on the “Okay” part. “Call Mom,” he said, “I gotta go.”

(If you have a 17-year-old son, you’ll recognize that phone call. “Hello, I’m alive, everything’s okay, gotta go.” It’s the same call he makes to us each night whenever he’s away from home. Earthquake or ordinary day, it works the same way.)

I would typically immediately tune into CNN when news like that breaks, but today I figured that Twitter would be the best place to monitor the breaking story — from the scene. MG Siegler explains what I mean in this post about how Twitter search (formerly, Summize) allows you to track people who are ‘tweeting’ about the earthquake.

For me, however, this is a case where it’s great to be following lots of specific people on Twitter, not just a key word — people I know (via Twitter) who live in LA and who thought first to let those who follow them via Twitter know their status.

It’s situations like this that help make Twitter easier and easier to explain.