Today is always a tough day for me. My dad worked at the World Trade Center for years and, living in New Jersey, I vividly remember classmates and friends being pulled out of school on September 11, 2001. Fourteen years later to the day, it’s still surreal to me.
Having said that, this week’s course material made specific mention of 9/11, and how that infamous day may have helped people to realize the potential of the Internet. “Smart phones, social media, mobile apps were all discovered because someone wanted to fill a need” and maybe 9/11 just emphasized that need.
We talked a lot about citizen journalism and the impact it can have, but just think about how different it would be if 9/11 happened today. Prominent digital communication platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, would be abuzz. The potential lack of reliability of citizen journalism would have only complicated an already hectic occasion, but the positives outweigh the negatives. The ability to reach a large audience in an almost instantaneous fashion is something that would have been idea at a time when communication was difficult. Live updates could have been useful not only to the nation, who was trying to learn and grasp what was going on, but to those families and friends that were trying to contact loved ones. Social media would have saved a lot of people a lot of long, sleepless nights, and it would have been able to provide real, live, personal storytelling to take place on a truly infamous day. As difficult as it is for me to think about 9/11 as anything other than a day that my day luckily didn’t go to work, the thought about what America would be like if a national tragedy were to terrorize this country today, it’s refreshing to know that the digital technologies and communication tools that we have in place today would only help.