Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Doing Things the Old-Fashioned Way

The ongoing horror of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan remains front and center in the news, and it's both terrifying and fascinating to watch. I've often wondered how I would be able to cope with the sort of disaster that many Japanese are now facing even as I fervently hope never to have to find out.

One of the fascinating subplots of the Japanese disaster is one that most of us wouldn't even think about: how does a completely networked, wired, electronically-centered society get along when the electricity goes out? There was a good article on this topic by Andrew Higgins in yesterday's Washington Post - In Ishinomaki, News Comes Old-Fashioned Way: Via Paper. Mr Higgins writes,

"Unable to operate its 20th-century printing press — never mind its computers, Web site or 3G mobile phones — the town’s only newspaper, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun, wrote its articles by hand with black felt-tip pens on big sheets of white paper. But unlike modern media, the method worked."

Consider, Dear Readers, the shock of suddenly having none of your 21st-century infrastructure you take for granted: with no electricity flowing reliably through the wires, you suddenly own lots of sleek, high-tech devices that are useful only as paperweights. No cell phone, no BlackBerry, no iPad, iPod, iPhone, or X-Box. No streaming video. No radio, television, or e-mail. No texts, tweets, or posts.

Could you cope?

This is more than just an academic question. Earthquakes and violent storms can happen almost anywhere, although perhaps not with the same compound ferocity of the Japanese disaster, and so it's not a bad thing to think about what you'd do if the lights go out. Somehow, I don't think I'd be able to keep up this blog if I had to post by carrier pigeon, or by individual handwritten letter to each of you.

Just a little something to add to the list of things you have to worry about as we march together into an uncertain future.

Have a good day. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

I'd miss my Nook definitely but at least I'd have a lot of books to entertain me. I'd miss my gadgets and blogs though.

What is what about people needing emergency care...Tis frightening.

Mike said...

We have our emergency crank radio.

KathyA said...

Truthfully, no, I don't think I could cope...for very long, anyway.