Yesterday Thailand witnessed the ASEAN conference in Pattaya, a state of emergency in Bangkok, the continuation of Red Shirt protests in Bangkok, tanks mobilising in Bangkok, two Red Shirts shot dead for attempting to enter the Prime Minister's car, the closure of a major shopping mall, the arrest (without a warrant) of Arisaman, a leading member of UDD (Red Shirts) and, as-yet-unsubstanciated, reports of Thaksin Shinawatra arriving in Thailand via helicopter.
Today the situation has got progressively worse with allegations of Red Shirt firing at the army and TV pictures of Thai soliders opening fire at protestors and continuous TV footage of the Thai soldiers on the streets of Bangkok.
As events continue to evolve Twitter stands on its as the web's most effective real-time news gathering resource. I've long resisting writing about Twitter but I genuinely believe it will be useful to all expats, and even those in the UK and the rest of the world.
Updates are often personal and not official but websites like Twitter Search and Breaking Tweets analyse popular topics and trends on the service to give a bigger picture of what is hot. For newsgathering purposes, these two websites offer invaluable insights into breaking developments.
So it was using Twitter, images on TV and select updates from The Missus, which allowed me to build a detailed picture of events unfolding in Bangkok.
Twitter is not just a news service, it is a dexterous messaging service which I would recommend all expats - particularly those who blog - to sign up to.
On its homepage Twitter asks 'what are you doing' and this is the basic premise of the service - to let people know what you are doing within 140 characters - also the length of an SMS. In reality, Twitter usage is more sophisticated than just ME-ME-ME-ME-ME.
If you're still not convinced, here are 10 benefits I get from Twitter:
- Communicate with friends accross the world
- Stay in touch with breaking events - such as the developments in Bangkok
- 'Meet' new people in Thailand
- Find news - most news outlets circulate article links
- Share interesting information
- (Sometimes) circulate JF blog posts
- Network - much of my freelance work can be traced to Twitter in one way or another
- Talk about what I'm doing- only when it is interesting, of course
- Stay in touch with the media/PR industry in the UK
- Ask questions or seek opinion
As I have mentioned, Twitter is extraordinarily useful for expats but the key to getting value from the service is your network, which in Twitter terms is the people whose updates you follow and those who follow your updates.
Here is a selection of Thailand-based Twitter users I recommend following. Without a network of followers/following the service is useless but a lot of connections makes Twitter an incredible useful resource.
@jonrussell (yours truly - my feed is visible on the right-hand side of the blog)
I also recommend listing yourself at WeFollow, a Twitter directory to help like-minded individuals connect, there is an entry for Thailand which can be used to find more Thai-based Twitter users.