G20 vs. the World Cup: A tale of two Twitters

If you glanced at Twitter this weekend, you found the trending topics consumed by World Cup mania. At a glance, you could quickly grasp the mood of the worldwide audience as they tweeted about various players, plays, and calls.

While England and the U.S. were losing, however, Toronto was recovering from rioting and street clashes related to the G20 summit.

Amid the usual news photos and articles chronicling the chaos, Twitter once again proved itself an invaluable live-reporting tool.

Among the most notable streams was that of Steve Paikin, an Ontario-based television journalist who witnessed the beating and arrest of fellow reporter Jesse Rosenfeld of The Guardian.

The live tweets speak for themselves (start from the bottom):

Paikan stream

His account ends abruptly:

Paikan tweet

This kind of narrative, with simple bursts of instantaneous thought, convey the intensity of an event unlike other methods. Paikin’s reports could also spread virally — 64 people had retweeted this note within hours of his posting.

Some raise questions about such unverified reporting leaching out so quickly. But as with the World Cup masses, there seems to be a Wikipedia-esque quality to live-tweeting of events such as the G20 meeting. The mass of tweets should root out the inaccuracies, and those who tweet unreliably will lose followers in the long run.
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