In honor of the July 4th holiday, I’ve been thinking about how Paul Revere’s famous ride would have gone if he had access to today’s technology. Here’s a possible current-day rendition:
The colonists in Lexington, Massachusetts know that it’s only a matter of time before the English troops arrive to assert their authority. The threats they’re hearing on their streamed BBC broadcasts are growing more menacing every day, and King George III’s blog entries are sounding downright cranky.
To prepare for the attack, the colonists have been asked to subscribe to Paul Revere’s Twitter feed, and to check it frequently, as the attack will almost certainly be a surprise.
A few weeks ago, Paul had poked around on LinkedIn and found some English military officers assigned to the “Colony Unrest” project. Today, he checks their most recent postings, and they seem to imply an upcoming trip to the northeastern New World. One of their TripIt feeds (“Ian Smith is leaving on a trip to Boston via TripIt”) confirms it. Asking a Patriot American Airlines reservationist for information, he finds that the flight left England six hours ago, and it is scheduled to land in 45 minutes. Paul knows he’d better spring into action. He looks at flight progress on Live Flight Tracker – it’s running on time. Drat!
Paul tweets what he knows so far, then calls William Dawes on his cell phone to tell him to start his parallel warning journey. William fires up his Harley, and off he goes. Paul logs into the airline site and signs his iPhone up for alerts on the flight, then hooks up the flight alerts to his RSS feed.
Next, he engages the reverse-911 system to notify local residents of the imminent British arrival.
Paul bolts to the pre-appointed church, sprints up the belfry stairs, and hangs two high-intensity LED lights. He scrapes his hand while trying to cram the lights in between all the bells and pieces of cell phone transmission equipment, although he gratefully recalls that the space rental fees from the transmission equipment is helping fund the Revolution. He grumbles all the while, “Why can’t all these Luddites just read their darned RSS feeds?”
Paul pauses to text his buddy at air traffic control and asks him if there were any way to delay the flight. His buddy, a staunch Patriot, directs the flight into a turbulent area for a while, and then flies it around the airport a few times, but that is all he can do without raising the suspicions of his Loyalist supervisor.
Next, Paul figures the soldiers will be tired, cranky, and hungry, since the English government only springs for economy class seats. How to capitalize on that? Paul calls some hottie young Patriot ladies asks them to hand out free fish and chips and free pints of beer in the airport terminal. (Yes, fish and chips and beer are all low-tech devices, but the allure of some things is just timeless.) Then he calls his Patriot plant in airport maintenance and asks him to put some Monty Python re-runs on the airport TV system. Those ploys collectively buy him a good two hours.
Just in case some residents were either Luddites or out working their fields, herds, and barbwire fences without their cell phones, Paul hops onto his Vespa and makes his famous ride, shouting from his megaphone, “The British are coming! The British are coming! Read your RSS feeds, people!”
Samuel Adams and John Hancock are able to avoid arrest by the British, and the Patriot citizenry makes it to the main munitions storage area in plenty of time for the Lexington Green battle.
The rest, as they say, is history. You can read about it on Wikipedia!