I am going to begin this story the way it unfolded, with a Tweet.
Sunday night, around 11 p.m., this arrived on a Twitter account I use to stay in touch with people locally.
"@heathermg: Is anyone awake out there? I just got mugged in front of my house and could really use help calling the police."
@heathermg aka Heather Goss is very involved in the Washington DC blogging community. Her activities include working as managing and arts editor at the very popular DCist, a major online news and arts site serving the Washington Metro area.
I RT (retweeted) @heathermg’s note but immediately felt frustration because I didn’t know where she lived or how to get help to her. But some people who saw her initial distress Tweet knew what to do. While that response was under way, a broader discussion emerged.
The concern was that Twitter use had finally jumped the shark if people were Tweeting for help instead of dialing 911. Wrote one:
“huh? getting mugged & she couldn't manage pressing '911 send' but could send out a message on Twitter?"
Other Tweets raisied that question. It was an obvious one and I didn’t know the answer.
In some follow-up DMs (direct messages) today, Ms. Goss said her cell phone was stolen by the mugger. She didn't have a landline in her house; just an Internet connectiion. In her house, she could Twitter.
Ms. Goss was robbed but unhurt.
"@heathermg I sent the tweet and 3 friends called 911 for me. I never made a call."
This story, "Mugging Victim Tweets for Help" was originally published by Computerworld.