Friday, December 20, 2013

Thoughts on Social Media and the London Apollo

Last night there was an event at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftsbury Ave in London.  Something fell onto the audience.  News got out very quickly on Twitter, but something odd happened that doesn't normally happen on Twitter.

Pictures were scarce.

Usually, on Twitter when a news story breaks, you get accompanying images to help you decipher the accuracy of the text.  For a very long time last night we had a lot of pictures of the outside (fire brigade and ambulance service) and nothing from inside.

Naturally, this led to a problem where even I backed off retweeting anything because I could not tell what was truth vs fiction.  This lack of context also meant that foreign news got things horribly wrong - in this case it was the word "balcony" that screwed everything up - not knowing the top (fourth) level is called "the balcony", they reported it like a box (think of the Muppets "Waldorf & Statler") on the side had fallen down.

This story soon morphed into a ceiling collapse, then a roof collapse.  As I mentioned last night until we know precisely what happened, the only thing that's for certain is a lot of plaster would have come down because that's how the inside of that place is constructed.

Time will now answer the biggest question - why did this happen?

Whether it was neglect, age (it's not actually that old - opened its doors in like 1901 or thereabouts) or other structural failure reason will come out at some point. Until then, this is one story that Twitter couldn't really help with.