Like most of you, I was saddened by the news of Michael Jackson’s death yesterday. I was in the West Village and had trouble getting reception on my iPhone (as usual) when a guy walked passed talking on his phone. He said to the person on the other end, ”Michael Jackson died today. How did you not hear? Aren’t you on Twitter?”
Walking home, I was more attuned than usual to the conversations taking place around me. I heard people sharing the news with friends on their phones, playing his music in their cars and congregating in Washington Square Park to mourn together.
This same process of information gathering and ultimately mourning took place online as well. It was amazing to watch how quickly the community organized itself to share updates as they became available and used their respective social networks to publicly participate in the unfolding drama.
Some interesting statistics:
- There were over 550 updates to his Wikipedia page over the course of 24 hours
- MJ tributes made up over 30% of all Twitter updates
- A Mercury News article on Jackson’s death soared to the top of Google News and brought 4 times the normal traffic to the site
- There were over 2,000 online news sources reporting the story, with more than 12,000 websites that also referenced how the news spread on Facebook
- Thousands of tribute images were added to Flickr (many with more than 100 comments)
As we continue to learn details about his untimely death, it really is amazing to watch how various online communities publicly mourn and pay tribute. These communities organized themselves within hours and will likely disband as time passes. But the ability for a group of people to find each other when they want to, exchange information and bond over a common theme is really something.
He will be missed.
Photo credit: lukas lehmann, Flickr