Tuesday, August 23, 2011

That DC earthquake

Hey, there was a small earthquake in DC and NYC! Did you hear?

Of course you heard, because news of the earthquake flooded onto Twitter and Facebook at an incredible volume.

By the way, according to the NYT, there was also a historically large earthquake in Colorado today. Did you hear about that one? Probably not.

The point I'm trying to make here is that one of the stranger effects of social media is the way it's made DC-NYC the nerve center of the global digital consciousness. Part of it is just because there are so many people in this area. But part of it is because this area is home to the vast majority of the nation's (and probably a decent-sized plurality of the world's) news organizations, reporters, media professionals, and the like. It's so disproportionately wired that anything that makes even the slightest bit of news in DC and NYC quickly gets catapulted into the eyes of the world. Stuff gets blown way out of proportion.

But the real problem is when this dynamic plays out in reverse. Stuff that doesn't affect DC or NYC, or affects these cities less, tends to get underplayed and forgotten. For instance, it's small wonder that unemployment, though historically bad through much of the country, is so often overlooked on the East Coast. The East Coast is doing relatively well and it's the East Coast that sets the tone for the rest of us.

Also, as a postscript, I'd like to point out that, incredibly, XKCD was proven correct today.

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