Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Techies Helping Out (if Allowed)

There are a lot of things I don’t understand about the government’s response to Katrina, and this story epitomizes it: a bunch of volunteer techies wanted to install and run a low-power radio station in the Astrodome, which seems like…
September 9, 2005

There are a lot of things I don’t understand about the government’s response to Katrina, and this story epitomizes it: a bunch of volunteer techies wanted to install and run a low-power radio station in the Astrodome, which seems like it could do a lot of good, yet they’ve been thwarted at every turn. After obtaining an FCC license, the group was asked to first procure 10,000 battery-powered radios (with batteries), because a local official was worried about “people fighting over the radios.” Moreover, they had to promise not to play any rap music, because there were concerns it would incite some of the evacuees to violence. Then they were denied because the Astrodome could not provide the power (which sounds specious). So they offered to run their equipment off batteries. Finally, the local official said she failed to see the utility of a radio system, instead preferring to communicate via the loudspeaker system (that must be pleasant) and newsletters. After that they gave up. But they learned a lesson that I’ve found works well in places where you’re trying to get something done: it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission:

“Last week you could just go right inside (the Astrodome),” said one volunteer who declined to be named. “We should have just set up then and gotten permission later.”

For a more positive-ending story about some geeks who were able to get a wireless network installed and running and have put some striken people back in touch with each other, have a read of this Washington Post article.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

stock art of market data
stock art of market data

Maximize business value with data-driven strategies

Every organization is now collecting data, but few are truly data driven. Here are five ways data can transform your business.

Cryptocurrency fuels new business opportunities

As adoption of digital assets accelerates, companies are investing in innovative products and services.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.