Friday, April 03, 2009

Facebook as the new Scanners

My grandfather had a scanner.

My dad has a scanner.

I have a scanner.

My uncle and brother are technogeeks, so they graduated to ham radios and shortwave and I don't understand a word they say so they don't get to be in my blog today.

If this is new to you, let me explain that a scanner is a radio device one can set to certain frequencies to listen to police, fire, ambulance (and for the truly compulsive, the two-way radio broadcasts between the base and, say, the Heating Oil delivery truck, or the local college security officers.). Scanners are the explanation of how local tv news sometimes get so quickly to the scene of the accident. It provides, not long narratives of reality, but little bits of information that provide a mental image of reality, a little fuzzy in the manner of television when it went out magically over the air the way television is supposed to be transmitted. Yet it is still a little specific at the same when that fuzzy tv had great audio.

A scanner is how my dad kept up with the local situation for weeks while there was no electricity after the ice storm of 1998 in the Northern Adirondacks (and Vt, and Quebec). Battery back up, very hard core.

My grandfather's scanner usually brought out opinions from my grandmother,
"I told you there was no good letting kids play in that park down there," or
"He was probably drunk," or "As fat as that, it's no wonder she had a heart attack."

I have used mine in times of electrical outage, or when I hear lots of sirens, or, sometimes, if there's nothing on tv and I wonder what's going on in my town[s].
I get to find out that the electricity is out because someone crashed into the pole at the end of the road, so I know it won't be long. I can tell if any neighbors already called in a noise complaint...

My partner pointed out the other day that I haven't turned it on since I joined Facebook.

Is Facebook the new Scanner? Have all my bits of technology and hobbies been replaced?

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