Thursday, August 26, 2004

One Hour a Week

A young man named Benjamin is in contact with me from Ghana. He is almost 30, single, works part time only making baskets I think. But he wants to get an education. To get on the internet he has to go to an Internet Cafe, and he can only afford about on hour once a week. What a handicap for a young man with ambition. However, maybe not as big a problem as some think. Here in New Zealand my experience is that most people who have internet connections in their homes only use the internet for 3-5 hours a week, and sometimes less. I'm as concerned for them as I am for Benjamin. When the internet first developed there was concern about the digital divide. Today I am much more concerned about the divide between those who have a big view about who they are and what is possible, a view getting bigger and stronger because of the internet, and those who have little idea what the internet is for. Too many people think it's great to use if you have a question to answer. You can use a search engine and get an answer. That may even be right, but not necessarily so. But that entirely misunderstands what the internet is best for. The internet does not replace the library. Access to the internet is not an education. People without connection to other people seldom have an questions to ask anyway. What the internet does BEST is connect people with people. You can find people who are like you. People who are like you, can find you, if you have your own web page, or public blog. It's in connection with other people across the world or across your city that the full benefit of the internet becomes obvious. Sadly most newbies realise this far too late. John

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