Six years ago this week many of us were still in our Katrina exile. Our world was changing in many ways, including communication. On the Sunday that we evacuated I did not even own a laptop. By the time we returned in October we couldn't get along without one. Laptops existed before Katrina but those early months of survival were the global birth of the laptop's relevance. The machines were transformed from another step in computer evolution to the best ever personal communications device.
Information technology has changed so much since the Katrina days that it seems like a century ago: Blackberries existed, but not iPhones. Texting was in its infancy. There was no easily available Facebook; no tweeting.
For many, cell phone were useless during the early days after, especially those who had 504 area codes. The lines were down. Laptops, however, managed to find their way to people where phones could not.
Many laptops were still dialup. (Hence a $400 phone bill we unwittingly run up at the place where we were staying.) WiFi had arrived but was not universal. Those of us in Marksville gathered in the lobby of the Paragon Casino's hotel to use the WiFi there. It was also a great way to meet other New Orleanians.
From what those who know better tell me, the city is in better condition now, with improved levees and communications, so we are not likely have another result such as Katrina's. If we do, however, just think how differently staying in contact will be as we are all atwitter with evolving technology.
One day it will seem like ancient history, but let us always remember the laptop for its role in the Katrina days. Creative people created sites for people to find each other. We all had lives to rebuild, but at least the web was providing us with a highway to get there.