September 2, 2014
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Staying connected

People like to be connected.

That’s hardly news. Indians did it with smoke signals or, as the locals know, with soundings from Drum Rock in Cowesett. Before radio, ships used flags to transmit information and then, of course, there is the mail, newspapers, stagecoaches and the Pony Express.

All of that is primitive compared to what we have today. If television and radio aren’t giving you the latest of the latest, there’s your smart phone, the Internet with Facebook and Twitter. It’s a direct intravenous link to what’s happening.

We witnessed Monday night how quickly information can be exchanged, as with the still unexplained boom that some people claimed shook houses on both sides of the bay. Soon after “the explosion,” as it is now being called, Facebook postings took off. Some people recounted what it sounded like to them and offered some off-the-wall and amusing speculation that extraterrestrials had arrived. But most of it was serious, with people reporting they heard or had not heard it and where they were at the time.

No one, including the police, Coast Guard and fire, that responded to calls came up with an explanation. It’s still a mystery. But the medium used to spread the information is not a mystery. It’s here, it’s part of us and it is getting wider and wider use.

This week, residents also received calls that they can now register with Red Alert, the system the fire department will use to alert us of possible disasters. Registration is as simple as going to the city’s website and signing up. In addition to landline and cell phone numbers, the registration asks for email address, Facebook, Twitter and other social media information.

In the days following the calls – a feature the city can automate to reach residents – more than 2,000 registered for Red Alert. The information is confidential so, supposedly, you’re safe from being bombarded with sales calls or having your information shared with someone you would just as soon not.

Nonetheless, we are amazed by the willingness of people to divulge their contact information and comment on just about anything going on. We’ve come a long way from smoke signals, yet our urge to stay connected is as robust as ever.


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