As I write this post, the Twittersphere is going nuts over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto which occurred around 5.15am Pacific Time. Bhutto was a Pakistani opposition political leader whose charisma and family history made her a world figure. The repurcussions of this tragedy have yet to unfold but in what appears to be a chaotic situation, there is plenty of speculation.
The British BBC has been broadcasting live coverage and some Twitterers, including myself have quoted out of the broadcast comments. Some have posted to GoogleReader and out to Twitter. Predictions08 is already there with thoughts about what this means for world events.
What's interesting is how this story is spreading around the world at lightning speed. Dave Winer for example is picking up on reports from MSNBC and I imagine it will only be a matter of time before others chime in. Laura Fitton Tweets that:
interesting word cloud derived from 'last 250 tweets' hat stip @streverubel and @michelb.
The words Benazir Bhutto figure prominently. Other forms of new media are also being used. Laura Fitton gives a personal perspective on Seesmic and it cannot be long before a substantial thread gets underway on that channel.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, great weight was given to the speed with which the blogs swung into action. Twitter is proving far quicker at relaying reaction. This has huge implications for business.
World events can disrupt markets, impact buying decisions, affect entire economies. If the speed at which we are now being bombarded with news is literally in the moment, then enterprises will need to have appropriate process response mechanisms in place. I'm not convinced those exist.
What I have seen today is the convergence of new media forms like Twitter and its add-ons, Seesmic, blogs and traditional TV media providing a powerful example of how important events are going to be reported, dissected, analyzed and ultimately acted upon from here on. Not some time in the future - but now.
Update: In the 'need for speed' I failed to give credit to a number of Twitterers:
@BreakingNewsOn: which is providing real time collated comment from a variety of news sources
@shashib for providing the BBC live link
@VLI for providing confirmation from French press agency AFP
@cervus for reminding me (too late for all of us) that hashtags help pull together topics of interest.