Internet power keeps people going – if not moving

This ash cloud has been quite a strain, my wife and baby are still stuck in Dubai five days after they were due to fly home. The good thing is that they are staying with friends and have a great support network.

What it has shown me is how great the internet really is. Searching for information on Twitter, airline websites with the latest information (sometimes), news sites with real time video and Skype to stay in touch and more has provided real peace of mind.

Let’s talk specifically about use of social media platforms to help deal with the crisis. Twitter has become the web user’s right hand. The way the platform is set up allows a number of really useful things. You can choose to follow everything from airports to sports personalities, each wrestling with the problem of the lack of air travel in their own way. I have put together a targeted list of some of my key sources for keeping up to date. It just takes a little time to search on the site.

With a mix of journalists and news sites as well as the likes of Jake Humhprey and the Formula1 teams struggling to get home from last weekend’s race in China, there is a lot of information out there to wade through. It gives real world insight into what might work for getting the family home and is building camaraderie online.

The next key feature of Twitter is the hash tag, a really useful way to gather conversations on the same topic together. You just need to make sure that you include the right one. It is also proving a great platform for people to help each other out. The #getmehome tag has been widely used and is enabling people to share rides across Europe. I have even seen organisations and companies – one is a car share organisation called Roadshare – that are using these tags to communicate out their services to people with a specific problem; clever.

What will be interesting is to see if there is any direct increase in Twitter users as a result of this. I wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter does see a European surge on the back of Iceland’s latest contribution to the global economy – I know, an act of God.

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