Once again we listened to the news via AM radio. As we drove down the 15 we passed in and out of fire zones. At the end of the Cajon Pass we spotted at least 6 or 7 big rig trucks in various conditions toppled on their sides in response to the Santa Ana winds. The same Wal-Mart truck we saw downed when we drove to Vegas was still there. The drive passed Fallbrook was the most telling of the disaster. The air was thick with smoke so it was hard to breathe and visibility was greatly limited to a few car lengths ahead. We saw burned out houses and still burning flames eating brush on the side of the road. We drove on hoping that this is not what it is like at home. I took pictures a long the way and I had to take pictures of a few land marks as there is no geotagging yet in current consumer cameras. As we approached Escondido, the air cleared and we were relieved to see that there were no signs of fire near home. Later we would find out that the fire in San Marcos was a very small brush fire next to Cal State San Marcos that was quickly put out. When we got home, Snowball cheerfully greeted us with “fweets” of joy and bounced all around his cage. He wanted his welcome home treat.
The local news was surreal. They were referring to pages in the Thomas Guide to help people identify locations of active fires and areas under evacuation. The local government was informing people to leave their houses via reverse 911 calls and because telephone service was cut off, the local government was relying on TV to relay the message to evacuate to a remote community in San Diego. Where were the SMS messages, Google maps, and mash-ups of web services to keep people in the know? My company seemed on the forefront with a wiki. What good is technology for people camping out in Qualcomm Stadium when cellphone “circuits” are jammed and batteries are dying? How are the millennials surviving without text messaging? For 2 – 3 days, SD was put back 10 – 15-years. We were calling over land lines, watching TV, listening to AM radio, and using the Thomas Guide. It seems to me to be a scary and out-of-control situation made worse by a communication breakdown when we need to communicate the most.
The web is very much still in it’s infancy and all it takes is a disaster to show just how “loose” the web is. We’ve been thinking a lot about paper in a Web 2.0 world and, well, I think we’ve got a while to go before paper goes out of style.