Nuclear-strike simulator


Live chat transcript from 9/11

Like everyone else here in Manhattan, I’ve found the five-year anniversary of 9/11 a little more thought-provoking than previous ones. While I hardly want to add to the pile of remember-this blog postings, here’s one that is extremely powerful: A live transcript of the shocked reaction to the World Trade Center attack that took place, that same day, inside New York’s biggest online community.

The community is called ECHO — for “East Coast Hang Out” — and it was founded in 1990; I’ve been a member since 1996. It uses CAUCUS, a really old-school command-line interface, and one of its popular discussion threads is called “Breaking News”. On 9/11, the item was where ECHO users gathered to discuss the attack in real-time. This year, New York magazine reprinted the contents of that thread from 8:47 am to 10:46 am, with permission from the participants. It’s incredibly gripping: A chunk of everyday New Yorkers’ reactions to the horrifying attack, frozen in ASCII. The ECHOids swap information, freak out, mourn, and try to make sense of the attack even as it unfolds.

It’s online at the New York web site. Here are the first few postings:

11-SEP-01 8:47 Stacy Horn

11-SEP-01 8:49 Stacy Horn
Oh god. I’m shaking. A plane just went by my window, it was flying WAY too low, and I was thinking, “How ironic,” I wrote about this in my book, and it crashed.

Oh God, people are dead now. Oh god.

11-SEP-01 8:50 Cathy
Where did you hear? I have the Today show on. No bulletin.

11-SEP-01 8:51 Stacy Horn
I SAW IT. It just happened, too soon for radio and TV.

11-SEP-01 8:51 Cathy
There’s the bulletin!!! Oh God!

11-SEP-01 8:51 Stacy Horn
I’m freaking out. I called 911 and it was busy.

11-SEP-01 8:55 Stacy Horn
I didn’t see the hit, I saw the plane go by (TOO LOW) and heard the crash which was AWFUL. Then I stood up and saw the big GAPING hole (I can see the World Trade from where I am.)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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