Several reports yesterday and today wonder whether Twitter was or was not instrumental in mobilizing the crowds during the current Chişinău riots (see here several links). While most of them believe that Twitter was not effective in organizing the riots, there are few if any answers to the question: what does Twitter serve for.
Source of Information
By most accounts, only a few dozens of Tweeters could have been reporting from the main square in Chişinău (Piaţa Marii Adunări Naţionale – the now famous PMAN).
At 23.00 last evening one could try and spot the people actually in Chişinău by the fact that they needed to decide what they would do the next day: “#pman how can we go to bed when we don’t know what our city will look like when we wake up?!?!?!?!”. (See it here). People elsewhere, like myself, knew that the next day we would look at TV and follow Twitter to see what happens.
Is that enough?
Well, Saeed Ahmed (CNNSaeed) from CNN was looking this morning on Twitter for information about the revolution. He got some and later on published a piece here. So however few, Tweeters were there before the world media.
There have been several streams of information from Moldova. Still, there is not quite an information flood. So every new input is precious. Twitters have been effective in putting together links to various sources of information (see this search as an example).
Around midnight Radio Vocea Basarabiei (Voice of Bessarabia) started to report violence in the square. In tens of minutes some degree of Twitter consensus was that they are only re-running what they have registered 6 hours and not reflecting live events.
So, Twitters have harvested, centralized and assessed information from the Republic of Moldova; they have done so on a channel widely available and popular to the western public. This is not organizing a revolution, but it may be the next best thing.
However, not all followers are genuinely interested in what happens in Chişinău. Mihai Moscovici, estimates that most foreign journalists he spoke to were actually more interested in the “Twitter Revolution” that in the actual events.