Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=177793
Story Retrieval Date: 4/19/2014 12:03:55 PM CST

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David Charns/MEDILL


#snOMG: Twitter and Blizzard 2011

by David Charns
Feb 03, 2011


As Chicagoans battened down the hatches and prepared for Blizzard 2011, many people turned to Twitter for information.

Scott Kleinberg, social media director for RedEye Chicago, said readers came up with potential Twitter hashtags, and then voted on “#snOMG.” Hashtags allow for quick searches on the website. Other hashtags users voted on included “#snOprah” and “#snotoriousbig.”

According to the website Trendistic, which tracks hashtag usage, the #snOMG hashtag peeked at midnight Wednesday, just as the hardest part of the blizzard, and thundersnow, were reported throughout the city.

Twitter was also a place for people to ask for and offer help.

To help people clean up, the news applications team at The Chicago Tribune came up with “Ask for help, lend a hand.” This application allows anyone to report a problem, whether it is an unplowed street, blocked fire hydrant, an abandoned car, or simply being stuck at home.

Joe Germuska, senior applications developer at the Tribune said the application has lots of room to grow.

The next step for the Tribune will be to link people in need with the appropriate authorities.

Tribune application developer Chris Groskopf said: “If we’re going to provide a way for citizens to help one another, we need to somehow close the feedback loop, so that people can say ‘I’ve been helped’ or ‘I am helping this person.’” Groskopf said. “As it stands, people can report problems but there’s no clear way to resolve problems.”