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ImageShortly after the swine flu virus hit the headlines I received a helpful tip sheet from a company that advises organizations on pandemic planning. One of the suggestions was to initiate “social distancing” which meant no handshaking or hugging.


May 7, 2009
By Neil Sutton
Neil Sutton

I laughed a little, thinking about how social networking is
actually a form of socializing from a distance — communication in
cyberspace. In many cases, I think people say things in social
networking environments they never would in person. Sometimes that’s a
good thing, sometimes not.

Social networking has served to bring people together like never before and to provide resources we would not have found before.

At
SP&T News we have debated whether the security industry would
embrace social networking or not. I had extreme doubts about the
industry embracing Facebook. Then we considered the micro-blogging tool
Twitter after reading an article about its use in emergency
notification at school campuses.

“Social media is going to
revolutionize the way we communicate during a crisis,” says Jeannette
Sutton, research co-ordinator at the Natural Hazards Center in Colorado and guest speaker at the upcoming World Conference on Disaster Management, to be held in Toronto, June 21-24, 2009.

I also knew some security professionals were using it to communicate at ISC West.

So in late April we launched our own presence on Twitter — twitter.com/SecurityEd.
It’s a place for readers of both SP&T News and Canadian Security to
drop in and find out what we’re working on, discover tidbits of news
and information as it happens — all in 140 characters or less.

Some
of you might think Twitter is the domain of teenagers and celebrities
looking to punk you, but in fact it is being used by people in this
industry to share knowledge and get questions answered. Yes, there
might be the odd post in between updates on the IP video market where
analyst Steve Hunt (@Steve_Hunt)
from SecurityDreamer/Hunt Business Intelligence wonders what to buy at
the Duty Free in Mexico, but hey, that’s part of the experience.

I
quickly discovered that former SP&T News Editorial Advisory Board
member Mike Jagger of Provident Security in B.C. is on Twitter as @ProvidentMike.
In late April one of his posts was: “As of June 1, BC Security guards
will be allowed to carry (& use) handcuffs…
http://tinyurl.com/djj8qm … that will be interesting.”

It’s this kind of thing that I think will be of interest to readers — it sparks conversation.

Critics
are worried the information won’t be correct — just a lot of rumour or
even inflammatory messaging. But the researchers from Colorado suggest
they have seen information corrected on the fly by the community using
it. It’s common sense to realize you probably shouldn’t get expert
advice on say, swine flu symptoms, from Twitter. It’s more a tool to
spark ideas and creative thought.

I’m hoping to use it to see
what topics interest readers most, draw attention to stories we’re
working on and find sources we haven’t tapped into before. We will also
post links to new stories and video we’ve posted to our main websites.

This
does not replace our regular website content — it’s just another form
of communication and a community we hope you will become a part of and
follow. We don’t want to feel our readers are distanced from us, but
close at hand!