Notes from Jeff York

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Spread the word

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When it comes to social media, I have my toe in the water. Well, maybe I’m really up to my ankles, but I’m definitely not in over my head. I write this blog weekly. I use iChat, but not that much. More or less, I wanted the experience. After all, you can’t become a heroin junkie until you have your first fix.

By now, I would think that most of you know what an Amber Alert is. If you don’t, basically it seeks to utilize mass media’s pervasiveness in an effort to find missing children. The first few hours after a child is missing are the most crucial. Odds of a positive recovery go down substantially the longer the child is missing. That’s why the national Amber Alert system was created. With the number of TV stations, radio stations, electronic billboards, and other mass media outlets that can be utilized, sending out a “child missing” message though all those channels at once creates a better opportunity of a positive outcome.

The Amber Alert system was developed after the January 1996 abduction and murder of Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas. Although Amber’s body was discovered 4 days after her abduction, it was clear how powerful a galvanized community can be. Today, the Amber Alert system is a nationwide partnership between law enforcement, broadcasters, wireless companies, and transporation agencies. When the Amber Alert system is activated, information is sent through all of these channels in an effort to get as many people’s eyes opened as possible.

This past Friday, a 17 year old girl named Caroline Stitcher, a long distance runner in her school’s track and fieldstitcher1501 team, went running on her own and disappeared. I don’t know if an Amber Alert was initiated. What I do know is social media outlets kicked into overdrive. A Facebook page called “Help find Caroline Stitcher” appeared an quickly grew to 3,000 members. Tweets and retweets appeared on Twitter making #Caroline one of the most appeared terms over the weekend.

Right now, details on her recovery are sketchy. All I know right now is that as of Saturday night, she was home safe with her family.

I was proud of the social networking community this weekend. Although I live in Connecticut, at least there was something I could do. By retweeting details over Twitter, any of my followers in the Chicago area could have been apprised of the situation and have been on the lookout. If something more sinister had happened and she was being transported away from the Chicagoland area, then by using the Internet, we can alert more people in a wider area quicker.

Written by Jeff York

February 22, 2009 at 6:15 pm