About 3 hours after bringing the British patient in we went back to find him still in ER alone. The doctor knew that we were strangers but asked if we could find someone to pick him up eventually. The patient didn’t carry a phone, but we did get the name of his boss.
We left and headed back home, calling the UK consulate again hoping to get a direct number for the doctor in the hospital but they couldn’t disclose information and said that the company is responsible for him, they couldn’t do anything from London until Monday morning.
Back home we went online but found this company had hardly any information online, but found the profile of his boss at linkedin.com however, this business network prohibits contacting strangers directly. Dead end? We decided to put a message on Twitter and Sino Weibo around 6PM. We called out for his boss by name and also mentioned the company.
On Twitter, it got people in HK and UK involved, however, it gained traction on Weibo as some microbloggers started translating and reposting my message to sometimes over 50.000 followers.
At around 10PM, one person on Weibo actually traced a telephone number and called it, but no result. People kept reposting and updating and around 10:30 PM, a customer recognized the company’s name and contacted a sales representative. The sales rep. send me a Weibo message around 11PM, about to contact all the people necessary. In no time, help was under way to the patient in the hospital. We could relax now someone from the company was headed to the hospital, due to weibo. It struck me how Weibo is indeed enabling social participation in this country. For the readers not familiar with the Chinese microblogging service, right now almost everyone online in China is using Weibo:
The Chinese Twitter-like service saw a penetration of more than 88.8% among China’s digital populace aged more than 20 […] almost every Chinese netizen has a weibo account. […] China has more than 538 million Internet users and 388 million mobile Internet users. (Technode, 28 July 2012 )
It reminded me of a BBC radio podcast by Duncan Hewitt I came across recently, regarding a Beijing Weibo user who spotted a truckload of dogs headed for consumption in a morning in April. He took a photo and put on his microblog. Around noon, people starting reposting it, leading to people gathering and blocking the truck. In the evening, the group of Weibo users bought the dogs from the truck driver, they are now safely in a kennel. Be amazed and listen to the full episode on the BBC website or direct link to MP3.