The newspaper man who lost his foot on 22/7
Steve Jobs, innovation & serendipity

9/11: Internet just couldn't keep up to speed

What I remember most vividly about 9/11 is a woman alternately sobbing, crying and screaming over the phone line as the drama unfolded on the TV-screen.

I was at home in East Finchley, London, working on my masters project, when my ex-partner called me and asked me to turn on the television. Maybe he called me twice, I'm not sure now, but he was working for Aon at the time, and Aon had 1100 employees in the South Tower.

A key competitor, Marsh and McLennan, had several hundred in the North Tower. Luckily, my ex was in the London office, but there were many Americans working in that office too, not to mention how so many had close ties to colleagues New York.

So I have no idea who that woman in Aon's London office was, maybe there was more than one, but those terrible sounds of distress over the phone line while I was simultaneously talking to my ex and watching the drama on TV is what I remember most strongly about the day.

Those sounds of distress somehow made the events of the day both more heart-wrenching and more real as I have to admit that what unfolded on the TV-screen was almost too surreal to grasp.

I remember too being frustrated by how slow my internet connection was, I was using a dial-up modem, and by how slow many international news sites were to load and update.

Still, internet, TV and the mobile were my key sources of information on the unfolding events, even though my mobile wasn't smart back then and only was used for phone calls and text messages (on 22/7, all my information for five hours or more after the bomb went off came via either my own or friends' smartphones).

I do wish Twitter was around.

I've seen some pundits say they were glad it wasn't, but what we saw with the recent terror in Norway was that even though rumours abounded the twitterati didn't go over the top with rumours and misguided, hateful attacks the way we saw on Facebook.

I also wish I had the sense to keep up with the blogging adventures friends of mine embarked on just after 9/11. But as the job market took a nose dive, and I handed in my masters thesis just after 9/11, all I did for two months there was sending out hundreds of job applications. 

Since I couldn't even seem to be able to land an admin job, I stopped by three local pubs one day - and was offered a job by two of them.

Amazingly, taking up a job in the pub I did turned out to be a brilliant career move as I met one of my most important mentors there - and many of the regulars gave me lots of tips for jobs and other stuff (actually, working in a pub is a lot like being a blogger - but that's a topic for another blog post, one I've failed to finish for the last three years or so;-) )

And the rest is history, isn't that what they say?

Actually, I caught up with the blogging phenomena one year later, in 2002, and there's so much to say on 9/11, so many thoughts and feelings - especially after the atrocities of 22/7 in Norway this summer - that I thought I'd better just stick to the facts for now.


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