Osama Bin Laden's death is a clear victory in the war on terror for the U.S., but as someone who was working in New York City on September 11, 2001, this event also highlights just how much has changed in the world of technology, communication and news dissemination in the last 10 years.
Nearly a decade ago, I marveled at how technology allowed us to not only learn about the attack on the World Trade Center, but experience it as it unfolded. Back then, I relied heavily on AOL's Instant Messenger to communicate with my team in the office and those scattered around the country. As a result, AIM was a constant presence on my desktop and it's through that platform that I learned of the first jet hitting one of the towers. With that distressing information in hand, our staff gathered in a conference room to watch TV news on a larger projection TV. As a result, we all witnessed the second plane hit the other tower and knew we were under attack.
I used AIM throughout the day to stay in touch with family, friends, and co-workers. Most of my news updates, however, were delivered via TV and radio. There was no Google News, no Facebook, no Twitter, or YouTube for anyone to post eyewitness accounts.
Last night, much of the world learned of Osama bin Laden's death hours before President Barack Obama announced it in a televised news conference at roughly 11:35pm Eastern. Back in 2001, those sharing news about the airplane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers were simply repeating what they had seen on local television networks. Real news was rarely traded on the point-to-point instant messaging service. In fact, there was no concept of a viral network or participants simply sharing what they were experiencing to a wider group without thought of import or impact.
If you are up to no good, remember to put your cell phone on lock. Three men in Middleton, NY, were in the midst of stealing some tires when they accidentally turned themselves in. Andre Price, Fabian Corley and Xavier Jenkins were stripping the car when apparently one of them leaned on the car, inadvertently pushing 9 for several seconds. This resulted in a connection to 911 where the police heard then traced the call. All three were caught and will be arraigned soon.
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Vonage E-911 isn’t helping us at all in our home. For some reason, despite inputting the correct address over and over, Vonage automatically changes it to a completely different address. One that isn’t even in the same city, in fact. At first, it was an annoyance. You see, when we signed up for Vonage, we gave them our address and thought that was that. A couple weeks later, we got a confirmation email saying that the address we submitted was accepted - however, in the email, it listed an address we had never seen before. Odd, we thought. We changed it back, and went along on our way…until a couple weeks later we got the same email. Our change has been accepted, but…again, Vonage changed our submission to that same address in a city that is ten minutes from where we have service. We changed it back, and dropped Vonage a support email. We never heard back from Vonage on support. However, two days ago we needed to call an ambulance to rush our 3-year old to the hospital in what was a life-threatening situation. Fortunately, the 911 operator has our correct address come up on her screen - something that when you are in the midst of an emergency, you don’t want to take the time to have to recite.
However, the day AFTER that frantic 911 call, guess what we found in our email inbox…