I wanted to post about what I have observed as an information professional while watching the G20 protests today. It has certainly been an active day in Toronto, however I do not want to discuss the reasons why people are protesting. What I want to highlight is the information seeking and dissemination patterns that I have noticed while watching the protest events on TV this afternoon.
There are three points that I want to write about in relation to this topic. Firstly, the mobility of information among the protesters and those watching/reporting on it was interesting to me. From protesters tweeting and facebooking as they marched in the streets, to reporters e-mailing pictures and other information to their newsrooms for up to the minute reports, information was disseminated quickly. A very good example of this came from the ISU (Integrated Security Unit) who tweeted up to date accounts of what actions police were taking in response to the protesters. Not even 5 years ago was this type of fluid communication really possible.
The second point I want to make is related to the first: the prevalence and importance of online social networking during these protests. During their coverage of today’s events, CP24 periodically flashed random tweets from those watching the protest on TV. What was interesting to me was that this newscast found these tweets just as news worthy as the footage they were showing. The importance of social media and the concept of user as information creator and contributor to our understanding of our world, has never been more evident to me.
The final point I want to make is that today’s events have given all of us the opportunity to learn and practice our information/media literacy skills. Many things that came out on the news today were not in fact true (and were clarified later on as more information became available). As one CP24 reporter stated on the newscast: some of the posts that they were seeing on Twitter were dispersing false information, a common problem with tweets. Critical thinking and evaluation of the information out there is very important, and the events today demonstrated this very clearly, in my opinion.
So why am I writing about this? Again, as an information professional, the process of gathering, reporting and evaluating information and information trends/tendencies can not be more clearly evident than in a situation such as this. As the fluidity of information changes and increases, so does our experience of life’s events.