About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

Linked In

Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

New York, New York

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

Made it to SXSW in Austin

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Good Morning America, now Go Fight Traffic

More surreality in Portland

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Irish Music in Oregon City

Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

Got Curry? And some bizarre art?

Web 1.0

Random Music and Random Life in Portland

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump

Flight Simulator

Cold night, hot fire, happy cat

Net Neutrality

Walking to work in the snow

A window into Moreland of the Past

Getting clever with data feeds

Big and Little Beirut

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

Reflections on my DC Trip

Born Again American

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The wall of pissing

National Treasure/National Archives

My trip to DC so far

Everyone is insane

Getting ready for DC

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

Race to Witch Mountain

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Christmas Fire

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

CAT Scan!

Follow up to the shoulder injury

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

Ironic Injury

On the Santa Monica Pier

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Oil prices and birdsong

Watching Starship Troopers AGAIN!

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

You can't build life

Accidentally Drunk in Portland

Al Gore the Winner

Intelligent life is out there (but its bugger all down here on earth)

Aussie Rules Football

Trip to Nostalgia Land

I am such an idiot

Long day of travel

Miami -- as far from Portland as you can go in the US

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

I'm fascinated with modern plumbing

Leaving Seattle (or why you should keep your ticket close)

On the Rails

The Hive

RSS for this blog
PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb
2010-03-29 15:45:00

Last night Markie and I were at home working away on our laptops when there was a deafening "boom" shaking the house and scaring the crap out of the cats -- not that I was feeling entirely relaxed about it.

I went outside to see if there was anything to see, and found all our neighbors on their porches yelling things to each other like, "What the hell was that?" It kind of reminded me of an old Twilight Zone where the world is coming to an end but we just don't quite know it yet.

Of course, the world didn't come to an end, and after calling 911 to be told "yeah, we know," everyone wandered back into their houses and their Sunday night routines (which judging by the bottles and glasses in everyone's hands, those routines include a lot of drinking...) A fire truck wandered through the neighborhood a little later, looking in vain for something to extinguish, but nothing was found.

This morning when I got up I tried to learn more about what happened. I found an article on the Oregonian's website that said the police and fire departments knew nothing, but that that Twitter was ablaze with discussion on the hashtag #pdxboom. People apparently heard it as far away as Vancouver and with no concrete answers from the city, rumors were flying online.

Twitter became a sort of a front porch with a lot more neighbors. The discussion went from concerned, somber speculation to playful fantasy where comments like Portland was trying to forcibly eject Lake Oswego and Doctor Who references abounded.

But then something more productive also happened. @spinnerin had created an interactive Google map allowing you to post where you were when you heard the BOOM and how loud it was, color coding your boom by intensity:

While completely unscientific from a data collection standpoint, this was one of those amazing Social Media moments. Suddenly you could see the "blast pattern" of noise. You could read the anecdotes of what people were doing or thought about the boom. It was better coverage than the traditional news could ever do with their random interviews of people on the street -- you could see what people around you thought, and get an idea of if your experience was the same as the people miles away.

And I like to think it helped the police find the remains of the pipe bomb. Clues were scattered through the postings, with more volume of reports than a cop on a beat could get. It was pretty obvious that the explosion happened in Sellwood, and the two reports from the river saying they saw a flash along with the boom could only have helped to focus the search on the east bank south of the Sellwood Bridge.

It's what I keep saying about filters and learning how to use these new media. It's not just Twitter, it's people using the Internet to communicate. Maybe they aren't communicating directly with anyone, maybe it's just a random posting that says "I saw a flash and heard a boom."

But this mix of random stuff brings a city of 1 million people together as if they're all on their porches figuring out what to do about the loud noise they all heard.

Audrey Eschright: Re: PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb
2010-03-29 16:34:51

The map was actually set up by Reid Beels (@reidab), but several other people, including myself, helped set up a color-coding system, fix errors, export data for analysis, and so on. Definitely a group effort, including the hundreds who took the time to add a map marker documenting what they experienced.

Chris Daniel: KATU's story on the pipe bomb discovery
2010-03-29 16:35:24

Link to KATU's coverage of the discovery of the pipe bomb today: http://www.katu.com/news/local/89441702.html

Michael Bissell: Re: PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb
2010-03-29 16:40:24

Audrey: Thanks for the correction -- I saw the original posting from @spinnerin as well as follow-ups to join the discussion on IRC about using Google Maps like this. But, of course, this was a fantastic example of the community building the tools, populating the tools, and using the tools.

All in less than 24 hours.

John Bissell: Re: PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb
2010-03-29 17:03:02

And the power of social media continues. I found out about this story by finding this link on FB. Otherwise I would not have known.

Bruce Dickson: Re: PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb
2010-03-29 20:53:34

Nice set of observations Michael. Hope there is no more of this activity - not exactly a couple of kids exploding some bungers in your letterbox!

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