Monday, October 26

Wikipedia wrests order from chaos of news reports on Hindu Kush earthquake

I deleted the first post I put up on the quake, which included a crazy map from the U.K. Independent, which seemed to indicate the quake strike zone had included a big chunk of Southwest Asia. 

Now look, this is getting to be TOO MUCH, do you understand. It's lunacy, with news organizations jamming their reports with Tweets that amount to, 'Look at this!'  'Look at that!'  'Oh look at what I just saw!' 

Few of these people are trained observers; most are rubberneckers.  

Then there's the news reports that feature live updates, which you have to plow through from the bottom up, and which only add to the confusion of an already confused situation. 

The Internet era in news reporting was supposed to make us better informed. Well I have news: the Social Media add-on and the mad scramble among a zillion Internet news sites to get scoops isn't making everyone better informed. It's driving everyone crazy. 

Even more ominously, it's driving editors at major news organizations crazy.  

Twitter isn't actually the problem; it's that news organizations are inserting Tweets in their reports because they know Twitter is a popular communication platform. 

This abuse of Twitter is across the board, not only in reports on disaster situations. You can't even read the financial pages without having to navigate Tweets. 'Here's what I think about the Fed's latest figures.' 

If I want to know what you're Tweeting about the Fed I'll go to Twitter.      

All right. The most important news to emerge about today's quake is that it was quite deep. From Wikipedia:
The last major earthquake to hit the same region of similar magnitude (7.6 Mw) was almost exactly ten years ago in October 2005, which resulted in 87,351 deaths, 75,266 injured, 2.8 million people being displaced, and 250,000 farm animals dying. The notable difference between this earthquake and the 2005 earthquake is the depth of the seismic activity. The 2005 earthquake was 15 km deep while this earthquake was 212.5 km deep. [132.0 miles]
The estimated death tolls from today's quake are presently tiny in India, maybe a handful, and ones in Afghanistan and Pakistan amount to a few hundred each, although of course the tolls will rise, and of course there are a lot of collapsed buildings in those two countries.  

But the depth of the quake means the peoples in the Hindu Kush region dodged the bullet.  

Wikipedia cautions that their article might not contain the latest updates on the situation, but I think it's the best place to get an overview, unless of course you have family in the affected regions or will be heading there to do relief work.  


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