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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

new trend was noticed when an earthquake hit Delhi

  NEW DELHI: The world's appetite for news breaks is definitely growing, fuelled in no uncertain terms by Live TV and Internet coverage. But a new trend was noticed when an earthquake hit Delhi and other adjoining areas of the National Capital at 4:40 am Monday morning.

The Net version of this paper, which is updated 24X7 with real time information, had put up the story about the tremor within a minute of its occurrence. While congratulatory messages from people flowing in is the norm whenever a good job is done, what struck one immediately was not that messages were coming in but that most of them were from readers within India.

One would normally expect the readership at that hour to be mostly from the Far East or the US, but for Indian users to access the Net for the latest information early on a cold winter morning was new. It shows two things. One, the Internet is emerging as a credible source of information for people, and two, and more importantly, it is entering their mind space to an extent that they seek it out as well to stay updated.

And the response from the cross-section of society validates that the Net has insidiously crept into their everyday system. Even as students from IIT and JNU campuses, call centre employees, housewives and professionals in the Capital and other parts of India were all praise for the speedy update, for the bunch of overseas Netizens in UK, US and Dubai alike, this brought in some relief to know that their family in India was safe. A much-relieved Lokesh from Dallas in the US wrote in to say, "Got the news while browsing for news in the US. The first thing I did was to call up my mother & brother in Delhi. Although the news sent jitters through me, it was good reporting."

Likewise for Kamal Goklani in St Maarten in the West Indies , who called up his sister in Delhi and Avinash Mathur Down Under who was able to reach out to his family in Delhi/Gurgaon after the news was flashed on the website. Neeraj from Malaysia also sent in a note appreciating "the fast update".

For the Indian audience, the story wasn't much different. Noida-based professional Aman Gupta , who rushed out of office along with other colleagues after the tremors, read the news first on TOI.com after having "searched lots of websites for the news". For JNU student Vikas Gupta the frustration with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) website was visible. "You of course were the first to mention the quake! The IMD's dull website seems clueless and their toll-free weather phone no.18001801717 is useless".

For Noida-based Manish , the reference to the date 26 was uncanny. "It is 26th again! It is just a coincidence that all recent earthquakes have been felt on 26th. In many cases the day also happens to fall just 1-2 days after a full moon or new moon night."
Another reader, Ujjwal , himself is quite kicked about the power of the Net. The reader from Delhi says: I am surprised to see so many comments by 9:00 am. Indeed the power of the Internet can be visualised here. Even after the quake, so many people logged on to see if it is on the Net!"

There are many readers like Ujjwal for whom the Net is no longer a revolution but has become a commonplace reality. And as their numbers grow, the power of the mouse is definitely rising. And in the words of Vips from Delhi's Katwaria Sarai "You people are faster than earthquake", goes on to prove that news on the Net is no longer a mousy affair.


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