A Twitter View Of A Tragedy

There was a mass shooting at a Toronto block party last night, leaving (at current reports) 2 dead and 19 injured.

This is a sad and terrible event, and very unnerving as it went down at a family event. I’m sure this will be the subject of news pieces and debates in Toronto for sometime.

But one development on reddit (/r/toronto) also caught my attention. In a self.toronto post about the event, one Redditor apparently spent a fair bit of effort compiling, Random portraits of the situation gleaned from twitter.

His comment included links to various twitter accounts of the shooting victims as well as community members and their outrage and responses. It is an incredibly intimate and personal view of the event, filled with the pain and anger. It is very odd and unsettling, but also very interesting to see all of this being broadcast publicly on the web for anyone who takes the time to search. Perhaps the most unsettling and morbid aspect is being able to search for, and find, twitter accounts of now dead victims even when the names have not yet been released. Some of the posts also imply that some suspected trouble, and other suspecting retaliation (all of which, the Redditor points points out is not “concrete evidence of anything’s having happened or anyone’s involvement in the shootings”).

This is just another example of how technology and the web (specifically in this case social networks) has changed and is changing media and events. We have been seeing this more and more in recent years, but this event struck at me more personally as it was much closer to home than things like Occupy Wall Street or the Arab Spring. This is a level of detail that is just not conveyed through a newspaper or news channel. It’s almost like having a mini documentary filmed and presented to you real time.

The Redditor (“archivist”?) responded with this when asked if he was a journalist:

Not a professional journo, nope. Just a guy who thinks mainstream media coverage of almost everything is woefully inadequate. I’m always digging through user-driven media sites during ‘news events’, just figured I’d post my findings publicly this time. No claims to accuracy or anything, just relaying what I find.

I don’t really have any deep insight, or even a strong opinion on this trend and what effect it will have over the next few years, but I am finding the developments interesting.