I’ve never been one to pine for older technologies but today I do. As Hurricane Sandy moves towards our New York City apartment, it occurs to me that we’re poorly prepared. We have food and water, yes, but no reliable communication tools.
To be sure, our home has a galaxy of communication devices — laptops, iPads, iPhones, Roku, Apple TV and more — but all of these will fail us soon after a power failure. If the city goes dark for days, our home will be cut be off from all information.
My parents or my grandparents wouldn’t be in this situation. They have landline telephones that can offer a path to the outside world even when the electricity fails. And if their phone lines went down, they would still be connected — through battery powered radios piping real-time information from Mayor Bloomberg and other authorities.
Ten years ago, our house would have had both a telephone and a radio. Now, instead, we have iPhones and Pandora — both of which will fall silent in a prolonged emergency. Technology, it seems, isn’t always progress.
And for other nostalgics, here’s an old-school emergency TV broadcast courtesy of my colleague Stacey Higginbotham: