Back from mid-term holiday, 24-ers and back to checking the headlines. Here's my favorite story from the last two weeks:
On February 5th, a tornado struck the South-east U.S., especially Tennessee, where it was election day. Polls stayed open late, but many voters couldn't get to the polls to vote. Normally, natural disasters are news for the weather channel but it being a Super Tuesday state and all, the Tennessee tornado was major news and all the big networks wanted live photographs and video to run with the story.
There's a small uni in Tennessee called Union, and in the storm, they canceled classes and did their best to keep students informed of safe havens. This involved posting information and alerts on the University's Facebook wall, where all the students would see it. Meanwhile, individual students started using the site to post their own photographs of the damage taking place outside their windows.  Alumni who saw the wall from afar sent their good wishes to friends and former classmates. Then, CNN found the images that Uni officials and students had uploaded and used them in their news coverage.
I'm not so shocked to see a University use Facebook in this way: it's about time they realized where their students actually look for information. Nor am I scandalized that CNN credited Facebook, not the Uni or the students, for the photos. This is all legal under Facebook's new application-based platform agreement, where most of what you post belongs to Mark Zuckerberg, not you. Nor I am shocked that Union students let this slide, because (after all), we're the Web 2.0 generation that thinks boundaries are a waste of time, right?
What shocks me is that the University–a bastion of bureaucracy, regulation and resistance to change–didn't press CNN to be credited for information. I've long predicted that the Internet, like any other media change, is not threatening to unravel the fabric of society because eventually, the mainstream develops new rules to make the new technology stable. Is Union's choice to be open source with their footage the first step to making Web 2.0 culture the establishment norm? Is this the beginning of tomorrow?