The Grid and the Village: Losing Electricity, Finding Community, Surviving Disaster

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Yale University Press, 2008 - Business & Economics - 225 pages
In January 1998 a massive ice storm descended on New York, New England, and eastern Canada. It crushed power grids from the Great Lakes to the North Atlantic, forcing thousands of people into public shelters and leaving millions of others in their homes without electricity. In this riveting book Stephen Doheny-Farina presents an insider's account of these events, describing the destruction of the electric network in his own village and the emergence of the face-to-face interactions that took its place. His stories examine the impact of electronic communications on community, illuminating the relationship between electronic and human connections and between networks and neighbourhoods, and exploring why and how media portrayals of disasters can distort authentic experience. Doheny-Farina begins by discussing the disaster and tracing the origins of the storm. He then goes back two hundred years to tell how this particular electric grid was built, showing us the sacrifices people made to create the grids that (usually) connect us to one another. Today's power grid, says Doheny-Farina, has become more vulnerable than we realise, as demand begins to outstrip capacity in urban centres around the nation. His book reminds us what those grids mean, both positively and negatively, to our electronically saturated lives.

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The grid and the village: losing electricity, finding community, surviving disaster

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Doheny-Farina (technical communications, Clarkson Univ.; The Wired Neighborhood) presents a firsthand account of the Northeast's massive ice storm of 1998 and its consequences for his town of Potsdam ... Read full review

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I read this excellent book not long before Hurricanes Irene and Sandy hammered the East Coast, near where I live. Perhaps we are doing better at maintaining power systems than in 1998, but this book provides a vivid reminder of how much we take for granted, and how essential our local social infrastructure becomes in times of need. Plus, it's a great read - especially on a cold winter evening. Doheny-Farina weaves his personal experiences with retelling of pioneer times to build a marvelous tale of community life. 


One From accidents to disaster
Two Origins of a grid part 1
Three The grid crumbles
Four Origins of a grid part 2
Five The grid rebuilt
Six The grid and the village
Afterword A disaster timeline

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About the author (2008)

Stephen Doheny-Farina is Assistant Professor in the Technical Communications Department at Clarkson University. His previous book, " Effective Documentation" received the 1989 Award for the Best Collection of Essays, the National Council of Teachers of English Awards for Scientific and Technical Communication.

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