Monday, July 31, 2006
The Combat Blackberry
The ability to read e-mail that is received in realtime, anywhere, has made the BlackBerry devices infamously addictive, earning them the nickname Crackberry. (source Wikipedia")
This is one of those funny but tragically sad stories on the state of journalism in War. Everyone has one of this confounded things at work now even under gunfire people will stop and check their emails and get updates that have no relevance to the situation that they are in. What is the use of getting updates on the status of your frequent flyer points when you are standing next to a tank.
The other week at dinner I had had enough, I went down and joined Mike Tobin and Ibrahim Hezboun for dinner on the patio at The Beach Hotel in Gaza. I said nothing not a word but just sat there and started to surf the and write emails on my blackberry. For more than ten minutes, I said not a word just sat there with my head down engrossed, eventually they asked if anything was wrong as I was not talking.
"No" was response and I went back to my blackberry.
A minute or so later they both became agitated and asked what was wrong?
"Nothing, but guys this is what you both have done for the last meals we have together.
Every minute of a past meal had seen them on their "blackberries" and I just wanted them to experience "Blackberry Ettiquette" They are without doubt a great tool, if you think people are rude with cell phones you have seen nothing yet.
My new rule today is that anytime I am with anyone and if we are talking and they check their blackberry I will stop mid word and walk away and then blackberry them the rest of the sentance.
In the old days a "War Correspondent" used his eyes to watch what was happening, words were used to record history and dispatches from the front line could take days to reach a telegraph post. Sure that has all changed and what I do is a driving force in that, and technology means that we all need the latest information.
However the case of not going forward with the troops does not get any funnier than this. We have a correspondent in the area who arrived a few weeks back and just gave up on getting his blackberry to work, what the hell .... s/he had wireless internet everywhere, wires were printed out for her/him, cable TV was a none stop source and since s/he was doing a back shift. It must of just been too hard to get the blackberry to work.
In an operation of this scale we have lots of people moving around and the Correspondent in the rear (sans Blackberry) was bugging the boss to see some action everyday s/he would ring up and ask to come up to the front.
The day came when s/he was called up, a Correspondents big break into the war zone.
BUT... hang on .... I cannot come up ... my blackberry is not working.
So for the lack of a "COMBAT BLACKBERRY" .... s/he remained behind in the rear, listening to traffic and changing hotel rooms so that they could write war stories back home.
It is one of the funniest things I have ever heard about in this crazy business.