Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Mac in Africa

On this blog, I explore many advanced technologies, and take for granted that my readers have a solid understanding of PCs and basic software concepts. It can therefore be quite sobering when you read about relatively limited impact of computers in parts of the developing world. A fellow Harvard Extension School student and author of the "Once More Unto The Breach" blog (and a former mainframe programmer) has shared a few observations about African computer use:
Half the reason I was asked to come though was because the students and staff really wanted to see an actual Macintosh. They had all heard of them and wanted to learn about them, but they have never seen one and have no way to acquire one. I spent the last hour of class doing tricks on my Macbook Pro. It was amazing. This computer impresses people back home, so you can imagine the reactions I got here. Every time I clicked on something, ten people would go "oooooh!"

After class, they were so enthusiastic that they were following me out the door asking me questions. One really smart man who asked a lot of questions even got my e-mail address as I was walking out. He doesn't have internet. He's getting my address so he can pay to be at an internet cafe just to ask me questions through e-mail.
Stories like this make me think that the One Laptop Per Child project can potentially have an enormous impact in rural Africa and other parts of the world where electricity, Internet communications, and access to computers is limited.

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