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Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson
New York City, New York, USA
March 25
Fordham University
Paul Levinson's The Silk Code won the 2000 Locus Award for Best First Novel. He has since published Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002), The Pixel Eye (2003), The Plot To Save Socrates (2006), Unburning Alexandria (2013), and Chronica (2014) - the last three known as the "Sierra Waters trilogy". His science fiction and mystery short stories have been nominated for Nebula, Hugo, Edgar, and Sturgeon Awards. His eight nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), Cellphone (2004), New New Media (2009, 2013) have been the subject of major articles in the New York Times, Wired, the Christian Science Monitor, and have been translated into twelve languages. Paul Levinson has appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" (Fox News), "The CBS Evening News," the “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” (PBS), “Nightline” (ABC), and numerous national and international TV and radio programs. His 1972 album, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was re-issued in 2010. He reviews the best of television in his blog, and was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Top 10 Academic Twitterers" in 2009. Paul Levinson is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City


NOVEMBER 28, 2008 1:46AM

Twitter Provides Window onto Mumbai Massacre

Rate: 4 Flag

Amidst all the shock and horror on this just past Thanksgiving, about the massacre and ongoing crisis in Mumbai, there was this, from John Ribeiro, and something similar on many news services -

Micro-blogging site Twitter is also being used to pass on information, or to just express feelings about the terrorist attack, and sometimes about the inadequate coverage of the crises by some Indian TV channels...

Just as students sent email from the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, letting the world and the mass media know what was happening, so Twitter and Facebook are providing some windows onto what has been happening in Mumbai the past two days. 

The new social media can't stop these atrocities, but they can stand as unique witness to the individual, human dimensions of what we see on television. These are some of the Tweets I noticed, just seconds apart, when I went back to Twitter a few hours after I first wrote this blog: "Indian officials are big on bulllshit, weak on results" ... "What guns are our commandos using???" ... "100 trapped at Trident" ... "this whole thing stinks, our govt have left us as sitting ducks, throw UPA out" ... "Japan had terrorist strike in past, China is blessed to have neighbors like us, we are not that fortunate". Twitter advised that 216 new Tweets on this subject had come in the 30 seconds it took me to capture the above Tweets. Of course, there is no guarantee that those microblogs all came from Mumbai – though, Twitter would have a record of the IP addresses.

But, no system is perfect. As Stephanie Busari pointed out on, "Someone tweets a news headline, their friends see it and retweet, prompting an endless circle of recycled information" on Twitter. And social media such as Twitter could have been used by the terrorists in planning and coordination of their attacks (a US Army Report in October expressed concern about such use of Twitter).

But in a world in which we struggle to make sense of escalating atrocities, even an imperfect additional window is helpful.


Author tags:

mumbai massacre, twitter

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I have to comment here. I read twitter during the Mumbai terrorist problem. i was reading it this morning as well. i take all news from the internet with a grain of salt. I thought it was interesting readign the twitter posts. I will again if something happens of this magnitude. I don't understand the reason the news like CNN wanted to discount twitter.
I found it refreshing to get accounts from eyes on the ground.