For nearly four years – steadily, seriously, and with the unsentimental rigor for which we love them – civil engineers have been studying the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, sifting the tragedy for its lessons. And it turns out that one of the lessons is: Disobey authority. In a connected world, ordinary people often have access to better information than officials do.
Proof can be found in the 298-page draft report issued in April by the National Institute on Standards and Technology called upant Behavior, Egress, and Emergency Communications. (In layman’s terms, that’s who got out of the buildings, how they got out, and why.) It’s an eloquent document, in many ways…
In fact, the people inside the towers were better informed and far more knowledgeable than emergency operators far from the scene. While walking down the stairs, they answered their cell phones and glanced at their BlackBerries, learning from friends that there had been a terrorist attack and that the Pentagon had also been hit. News of what was happening passed by word of mouth, and fellow workers pressed hesitating colleagues to continue their exit.
Interesting, and advice that is perfectly suited for my temperament.