Faster Than a Speeding Mainstream Media

Sohaib Athar's Twitter photoA 33 year old Pakistani computer programmer who lives near Osama bin Laden's hideout unknowingly first broke the news about the U.S. raid on bin Laden's compound after he tweeted about hearing a helicopter hovering over the area at 1:00 a.m., saying it was an unusual event for his town, Abbottabad. Sohaib Athar subsequently tweeted that he heard a "huge window shaking bang" which turned out to be a U.S. helicopter crashing nearby. The copter apparently had mechanical difficulties and was intentionally blown up by its crew. Athar reported on the location of the crash site and posted a photo and video of bin Laden's compound. Athar describes himself on his Twitter page as "An IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops." His tweets about the incident began a full seven hours before the mainstream media broke the story of the raid, demonstrating how ordinary people can now offer real-time, blow-by-blow coverage of important gobal events far ahead of the mainstream media simply by virtue of being in the right place at the right time and being connected via social media.