A quick post on 9/11, killing Bin Laden, and the Internets

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at home not feeling particularly well– a cold or something.  I mowed the lawn, and then came in and just happened to turn on the TV and saw a story about a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers, a crash that network news first reported as an accident.  Until the next plane hit, and then the Pentagon, and then a field in Pennsylvania. I think it’s fair to say that pretty much everyone in the U.S. (maybe the western world) who had a television (especially with cable) spent the next 72 hours or so watching the news, with breaks to nap, go to the bathroom, and drink.

Ten years passed and many many things happened.

Then, Sunday night (which, oddly enough, was the eighth anniversary of Bush’s infamous “mission accomplished” speech) I was getting into bed with my iPad at 10 pm or so, planning to read a bit on the kindle app before getting to sleep and ready for the beginning of the spring term.  I checked Facebook first and saw someone (I can’t remember who) in my feed had posted that Obama was giving a previously unannounced speech at 10:30.  Uh-oh, I thought, and got out of bed to turn on the TV, my iPad (with Twitter and Facebook) by my side.

You know the rest, and I am sure there will be many more examples of this sort of piece that is running on The Atlantic’s web site.

Anyway, that makes me think of at least two things:

  • 9/11 was a very clear “exigency” in that it was obviously the beginning of a new situation, although arguably from the point of view of Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and related groups, 9/11 was merely the middle of a fight that began much much earlier– CIA involvement in Afghanistan,  The 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Africa, etc.  On the other hand, the death of Bin Laden doesn’t seem like an “ending” or a “decay” of this situation.
  • I’m not quite sure what it means that I have heard about this (and nearly all other “breaking news” in the last year or so) first via Facebook and/or Twitter, and then I follow it up with live coverage on TV, and then still later, with writings published on the web or even on paper.  But it means something for sure, something about what “main stream media” is and is not still  capable of doing well.
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