I’m gearing up for the New Media Consortium’s 2007 Regional Conference later this week. I’ll be on a panel called “Digital in the Wild” with Alan Gutierrez, Sandy Rosenthal, Ted Cash, and Christopher Reader (moderator). So I’m pondering the following discussion questions and working out what I might say.

  1. How did your technology needs change from before the flood to today, and why? I think I’ll talk about my personal experiences, especially in the immediate aftermath of the flood. I ran out and bought my first cell phone, a Blackberry which I’m still using. We didn’t get internet at home for for over a year. Hell, I couldn’t get a newspaper delivered to my home for months, or mail for that matter. So, a desperate thirst for information, and the Blackberry was the answer. I never saw the point of mobile devices before Katrina.
  2. What didn’t exist pre-Katrina that you’ve seen come about to help give people power to help themselves? The local blogosphere existed before the storm, but it certainly flourished and grew into something new afterward. It’s become an essential part of how I get intelligence about what’s going on in the city.
  3. What technology(ies) have made the biggest impact in advancing recovery work? Good old Yahoo! Groups. We use this for my neighborhood and though I have some quibbles with how they function, I like the easy, egalitarian nature of this tool.
  4. What failed to live up to the hype in your opinion as far as technology is concerned? Unfortunately: everything. All this technology falls short of what we’d want it to do. If I had to single anything out, I’d have to say: internet. It’s a great source of information for those who use it, but so many people are left out. I worry that it tends to reproduce and accentuate existing social divides.

Those are my raw and unformed ideas, subject to change between now and Thursday. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

  1. After the flood I bought a new laptop that could take a cellular internet card. Phone service wasn’t restored for a year so I supplanted my home desktop and I found I had more gigs on the road and it kept me in touch with the web and email as my job took me further and further afield to keep the money rolling in.

    Now I’m addicted to my cellular internet service. Pricewise it has been a wash because most convention centers and hotels charge for internet access at an exorbitant day rate. And I’ve found it has come in handy for answering questions surrounding the job immediately… in addition to allowing me to keep in touch with what is going on back home.

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