Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If it Were Only So Easy...

The banner on the front of the Ministry of Communication says 'With Internet, there's less poverty, more work and more oppurtunity.'

But the aged couple sitting begging on the sidewalk don't appear to have read it.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Esben said...

The heartbreaking difference between action and slogans.

Roberto P said...

Great photo.

I'm sure as many Colombians are addicted to facebook as elsewhere, but that is not opportunity. Teaching people how to code, design, and make a start up online is just like any other education, and like any other education in Latin America it only offers opportunity to the few.

Esben said...

There I must disagree with you, Roberto. The internet does after all provide free training in all those examples you mention, without the need for any other tuition than an internet connection. I believe that is what the ministry is aiming at, but the poster is nothing but a slogan to confirm their intention, instead of a punchline in an effort big enough to be described at, say, ColombiaReports..

Roberto P said...

Senor Esben,

How many people can learn to code from an internet connection? Give people an internet connection and facebook, porn, chat, shopping etc etc will all do well. Its about information literacy, more overblown buzzwords sure, but you need to understand how and what you can use the internet for. This requires teaching. If it only it was so easy to give some computers and an internet connection to people.

Even if you give access and it facilitates the facebook, porn etc etc crowd, you could argue it will allow some, a lucky few, to maybe create something along those lines, or maybe use social media to further a cause, in reality the majority will get nothing "worthwhile and lasting" from an internet connection without opportunity that exists from proper information literacy. (The last sentence was not meant to be so long...)

The argument is far wide than it appears. UNESCO must have spent millions just writing about it. I've been to the Biblioteca Espana several times in Medellin where computers and the internet are available but the tuition is completely lacking for anything useful like solid ICT skills that will get you an idea of possible jobs, or even how to use popular websites for your own gain.



Esben said...

Hi mr. Roberto,

Our perspectives differs only as a glass half-full/empty kind of way.

Of course I don't believe a computer is a completely self-explanatory medium. To say so would be terribly naïve, which I sense is where are you getting at.

I do believe though, in all the efforts made in programs like and As it happens, I stumbled upon both of these through Facebook, so I wouldn't talk Facebook down as much.

Intuition doesn't happen through teaching. Most teachers I know aren't particularly inspiring about the use of computers for neither content creation nor information gathering.
Intuition happens through the possibility of browsing. I din't learn to use neither computers nor the internet like I learned how to read or write. I know the information literacy point.
But when I argue for more personal computers it is simply because I myself was fortunate enough to be endowed with the chance of playing around with one of my one.

That the computers at the library is not used for hours of personal browsing and roaming can perhaps be explained with the space that the library is.
That the computers aren't being used to introduce ICT skills is wholly the wrong of the librarians. In my own community the local library is excellent at organizing introductory workshops for seniors in order to use the internet for aspects relevant to their own lives.

To me, the power of the internet is seldom the specificity. But rather the loads of inspiration you get from going from one link to another. Ending up where you've always wanted to be without knowing it.
Perhaps it's a matter of approaches better suited to some rather than others, but in general I hold the power of browsing to be true.

I'm making an effort to find and use free online tools to liberate myself from a platform or even a location, and then prolifirating those experiences. I ask interesting professors their opinions on ideas, I practice Spanish, discuss life with my girlfriend, manage my budget and read old books. I'm sure I don't have to list more wonders, but I just mention this to point out that the internet is not as inapproachable ressource as you, respectfully, make it out to be.



mauricio forero l said...

Very short post Mike, but, obviously very rich in content. Love the shot.