I spent the afternoon with the lap-top in front of the television. A social chat-room was turned into a news-room within minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. A dutch banker and stockbroker kept me updated on the news from Reuter through ICQ. My friend in New York, Matthew, couldn't get home to Brooklyn or call out from work, as he was evaquated within minutes after the second crash, and the cell-phone antennas were on top of the World Trade Center, so there was no signal. He checked in through the net, so I wouldn't worry, spending hours trying to call people on Manhattan from a friend's apartment, to be able to reassure others through the net that their loved ones were fine.
This was a surreal afternoon. Adam, a student and friend at the Columbia University set this as his automated response to any who might page him: "Auto response from DaseinDilettante: I'm ok...things here are a little crazy...everyone's just wandering aimlessly around in this surreal approximation of real life that today has turned into. I'll be back in a bit." But the net worked as a communication device when the phones broke down. It works as it is designed.