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Using Twitter to follow the Bangalore bomb blasts

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A series of bombs was detonated in Bangalore earlier today. The latest reports indicate that seven devices exploded, in five different locations in the Indian city. The police have confirmed that at least two people died in the attacks. Mukund Mohan, a technology entrepreneur, has been reporting on the events using microblogging tool, Twitter. He is in Bangalore and has been constantly updating his Twitter feed with the latest information on the blasts. You can follow his Twitter feed here. Another good way of following what is happening is to use Twitter Search (formerly Summize). I've collated a series of Mukund's Tweets below. Further updates will appear at the bottom of the post and I've blogged a series of four posts with some more considered analysis: Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.
mukund Bomb Blasts in Bangalore - 4 locations, details to follow #Bloreblast about 3 hours ago from web
mukund 5 blasts in bangalore - 2 in central bangalore, others in suburbs about 2 hours ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts were low impact - 3 people dead, 6 total blasts about 2 hours ago from web
mukund 7 bomb blasts: 120 pm - 235 in Bangalore: Madiwala, Mysore Road, Audogodi, Koramangala, Vittal Mallya Road, Nayandanahalli and Richmond Road about 1 hour ago from web
mukund Local chief minister calls for an emergency meeting at 5 pm local time for all cabinet ministers about 1 hour ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts - Gelatin sticks are normally used to blast rocks in quarries and can be procured legally for industrial purposes. about 1 hour ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts had timer devices which had the equivalent capacity of 2-3 hand grenades about 1 hour ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts - explosives were kept in scrap yards - so they could cause maximum damage - explosives were gelatin sticsk about 1 hour ago from web
mukund #bangalorebomb Rains in Bangalore not aiding blast investigation says police 42 minutes ago from web
mukund #bangalorebomb cell phone networks are not working. SMS is working, try that instead 38 minutes ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts - the blasts created more panic than real damage says the police commissioner - tell that to the people injured 30 minutes ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts - police commissioner - people took the blasts in their stride & are very resilient, there are 3 reporters here with me 27 minutes ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts - Gopal Hosur is the Joint Cmmr or police at our location near VM road - says investigation results will be ready in 2 hrs 24 minutes ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts - summary, 2 people dead and 15 injured 20 minutes ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts - summary: 7 blasts, 5 locations from 120 pm to 245 pm 21 minutes ago from web
mukund Bangalore blasts more damage to the injured was caused from the nails and bits of flying debris than the bomb itself 14 minutes ago from web
mukund: Bangalore blasts - things are back to normal at 5 of the 7 areas of the blast - traffic's moving slowly but people are going about their job
mukund: Bangalore blasts - summary Most people in Bangalore are okay. 2 people died and 6 are injured in 7 blasts in the city
mukund: Bangalore blasts - Police claim again that there were 10 blasts planned and 8 bombs went off
mukund: @Jillfoster: summary 2 people died and 6 injured in 8 bomb blasts in Bangalore, small gelatin bombs were used
Mukund also found time to get a blog post up about the blasts. This demonstrates how the facts in a breaking news situation are constantly being updated, changed and re-evaluated. Sceptics might wonder about the value of reporting these 'facts', before they have been confirmed. But this is no different from the 24 hour news channels coverage of live news and many of the breaking news articles that appear on the web. That's why I thought it would be worth putting up part of the initial BBC article (at 1.30pm UK time) as well which now also appears to be factually inaccurate:
Seven bombs have hit the southern Indian city of Bangalore in a span of 15 minutes, police say. One woman was killed and several people injured. Police say bombs were detonated with timing devices.
Update 1: You can also use Twitter Local to track tweeters in Bangalore. Update 2 (a): Some tweeters reckon Twitter hypes news events like this one. I received these tweets from gregorylent who is also in Bangalore. He thinks my blogpost has the wrong title:
"dan, mukund is an ambulance chaser, it is a very small event, twitter hypes hysteria should be your blogpost, live from bangalore. [It] hypes hysteria and spreads rumors, almost as well as the cellphone network..."
So how does it compare in importance to other world news according to the BBC? Well, the BBC World Service reported the bombings as the last item in their 3 minute bulletin at 3pm UK time. The website article still hasn't been updated at 3.20pm, and the story isn't a main feature on the BBC World website. Update 2(b) Other twitterers felt the bombings deserved attention. scorpfromhell: "As a person who was saved by less than 10 mins in today's blasts in Bangalore, it was a scare, real and fortunately at a time with low traffic. All who are belittling today's bomb blasts in Bangalore - would it have been more worthy of your sympathies had there been more casualties?" The BBC website says it was updated at 3.12pm - may have been some delay between the time imprint on the article and the article going live. The first paragraph now reads:
"Seven bombs have hit the southern Indian city of Bangalore within minutes of each other, police say. One woman was killed and several people injured. Police say bombs were detonated with timing devices."
Incidentally, I thought it would be useful to say give you the top stories at 3pm. The top story on the World Service at the same time was about the possibility of a million Somalis going without cereal rations in August if a ship carrying supplies from South Africa cannot find an escort to stop attacks from pirates. On the website, the lead story has been about the Qantas aircraft which had a hole ripped in it. It landed safely in the Philippines. Update 3: Steve Rubel is the Director of Insights for Edelman Digital. He says the 'media have the Bangalore story but Twitter was first'.


Mukund Mohan | July 25, 2008 4:09 PM


Thanks. Good post. I have to question though, what's hype about 9 blasts (regardless of how few people they killed) and the fact that both the government and security professionals were trying to get things under control.

The fact still is that twitter was the easiest way to keep people (many of my friends are in the Silicon Valley and they have close family in Bangalore) updated.

Having been in that situation before I know how nerve wracking it is to get any information from any source on whether people you know back home are safe.

It served that purpose. I am happy about that.

scorpfromhell | July 25, 2008 5:46 PM

Daniel, great post and good summarization. You have captured my reactions on the naysayers already. All that I would like to add is that, terrorists need not really take lives, just cause fear, panic, pandemonium so that their voices are heard. It now remains to be seen who claims responsibility and whats their cause.

Even if no established terrorist group is found to be the miscreant, the gap in the intel of the police, et al. has been shown in a pretty aping manner.

And interestingly, the Jaipur blasts in May 2008 and today's blasts in Bangalore are both low tech & duplicable pretty easily by any damn hooligan. Isn't that a valid reason to be concerned for us Bangaloreans? And if Twitter was a way for all of us "techies" to get together, to keep each other informed, is it hype/hysteria?

Theres NO coverage in the popular media about twitter's follow up today. Twitter in Bangalore is only a niche service, not as mainstream as it is out there in the US. So it has solely been used as a means of communicating among the twiterrati of Bangalore and has not at all contributed to any hysteria.

Anonymous | July 25, 2008 9:10 PM

Nice work Dan :)

Bizarrely, I was teaching my tracking news online course in central London


when started to look at delicious social bookmarks. I spotted Sambrook bookmarking you and wondered what was up. I set the participants the taks of sourcing everything the could - including finding contactable sources - on the bomb blasts.

All worked very well. Clearly, an horrific event but it did go to show participants just how useful services like Twitter, Tweetscan and Twitterlocal are in finding primary sources. Verification is of course... another story :)

Nice work.