Earlier this afternoon, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia shook the East Coast. Talk of the quake quickly filled up Facebook news feeds and Tweetdeck columns.
Shortly after the quake, Cornell University staffer Aaron Hill tweeted a link to a video he shot of Cornell’s Dr. Muawia Barazangi, a professor of seismology, explaining what happened during today’s quake:
What’s interesting to note is that Hill’s job is not in public relations or communications; he’s a web developer. So is Jason Woodward, who was with Hill as he shot the video, and whose photo of the seismograph in Cornell’s Snee Hall was shared via the university’s Twitter account.
This is awesome. This is exactly what higher ed needs to be doing: we need to capitalize on our intellectual assets to add context to the events that transpire in the world. I discussed this in depth in my talk on higher ed in real-time at #140conf Boston last year.
It made me think: one year later, how much closer are higher ed news offices to being real-time operations? Granted, it’s a little tough in this current situation (as I am finding out) with it being summer and many faculty not yet on campus, but I crowdsourced some examples (thanks, Mike and Ryan).Washington & Lee tweeted images of their own seismograph readings. Stanford highlighted previous research about how Boston is more at risk for a powerful quake than San Francisco (gulp). I tweeted a link to Tufts’ Geohazards Research group. (Any other examples out there? Post them in the comments!)
So, we’re getting there, hopefully. Events such as this — which basically dominated the online conversation of an entire coast for a good few hours — are incredible opportunities to add value to the chatter with information and context and demonstrate our relevance. Knowledge FTW!
I have to admit – at first, I was chagrined that two of the best examples I saw came via web developers — where are the news offices?? But, as Jason reminded me, “everyone’s a content person.” Going real-time in higher ed is not just dependent on our news offices cranking out content in a timely, relevant fashion; it also requires leveraging the members of our community who are doing the same (as Cornell did with Jason’s photo). Real-time knows no department or role. It is just happening. And we have to keep up.