I am going to begin this story the way it unfolded, with a Tweet.
Sunday night, around 11 p.m., this arrived on a Twitter account I use to stay in touch with people locally.
@heathermg: Is anyone awake out there? I just got mugged in front of my house and could really use help calling the police.
@heathermg aka Heather Goss is very involved in the Washington DC blogging community. Her activities include working as managing and arts editor at the very popular DCist, a major online news and arts site serving the Washington Metro area.
I RT (retweeted) @heathermgs note but immediately felt frustration because I didnt know where she lived or how to get help to her. But some people who saw her initial distress Tweet knew what to do. While that response was under way, a broader discussion emerged.
The concern was that Twitter use had finally jumped the shark if people were Tweeting for help instead of dialing 911. Wrote one:
huh? getting mugged & she couldn't manage pressing "911 send" but could send out a message on Twitter?
Other Tweets raisied that question. It was an obvious one and I didnt know the answer.
In some follow-up DMs (direct messages) today, Ms. Goss said her cell phone was stolen by the mugger. She didn't have a landline in her house; just an Internet connectiion. In her house, she could Twitter.
Ms. Goss was robbed but unhurt.
@heathermg I sent the tweet and 3 friends called 911 for me. I never made a call.