Post Black Out Musings: Hooked up or simply hooked?

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The power failure in Westchester County that left many without power for up to a week has in some ways brought to the forefront how much web 2.o become a part of our lives.  The internet has gone from being a convenience and diversion at the turn of the century to a major centerpiece of lives – both at work and play.

We started along this path prior to 21st century – but we’ve traveled a long way down the internet super highway since the fears of Y2K dominated our lives.   Indeed it was  the events of 9/11 that first brought to the forefront the importance of cell phones.   After all, it was the cell phone that allowed family members to communicate with their loved ones on hijacked United 93 that the terrorists never intended to land the plane safely.  The attempt to gain control of the plane – though it ended in tragedy  – probably prevented the terrorists from slamming the hijacked jet into the nation’s Capital – on a day when Congress was in session.   A technology of sheer convenience quite literally changed history.

This blackout was nothing on the magnitude of  the tragedy of 9/11/01.  However, it underscored how much more dependent we have become on technology and the internet in the intervening years.  After all, in 2001 many were not online at all.  Most that were online were connected by the humble phone line.   AOL was king, and no one had ever heard of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.  WordPress?  What’s that. We were hip deep in the world of Web 1.0  – and could not even imagine web 2.0.

According to several reports – almost half the county was without power  for some period of time during or after the storm.    The result was a need to get “connected” that I hadn’t seen before.  I went to several coffee shops that had internet access only to find them literally packed with people all doing the same thing – firing up their laptops, charging their computer and phone batteries while sipping a latte.   On Sunday, I went to a restaurant to eat since cooking in the dark didn’t seem too appealing.  Once again the restaurant was generously accommodating laptops, cell phones and chargers!

Indeed, the three days I was without power became a constant search for bandwidth and the ability to charge my computer and cell phone.  Gone are the days when we go to our neighbors requesting a cup of sugar or a few eggs – now when we knock on their doors we are seeking  electricity and bandwidth.   The question we are left with is this: although web 2.0 has freed us in many ways – think virtual office  – is it possible that we have also been  imprisoned by our need for it?

© 2010 Ruthmarie G. Hicks – – All rights reserved.

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