Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thurday Thirteen : edition #4

Thirteen Things about The Internet

I live in a developing country so it might seem strange that we can access the internet. It didn't use to be this way - when I first started working in SE Asia in 1985, telecommunications was quite different. Very few houses had telephones so if I wanted to call someone, I had to wait in line at the post office or at a house which made a business of letting people use the telephone. The lines were crackly so the volume of the conversation had to be turned up high. That meant that not only the person you were talking to, but everyone in line, knew your business. And since people were bored standing in line, they really listened with a passion.

Telephoning someone in the US was expensive. 5 USD/ one minute. One friend had an argument with a relative during one phone call - and used up most of her month's salary. Double injustice.

Instead of faxes, we had telexes - took a long time for them to make their way from Bangkok to the field. Once we got one, we had a few days to mull it over before sending a response, which took a few days to get back to the US.

Things have changed. This is what I like about the internet.

1. I can keep in touch with family and friends by e-mail. As soon as I get an e-mail, I can respond and get a response even the same day.

2. My staff use IM to chat with people around the world. Since the common language is English, it's also giving them an incentive to learn English.

3. I'm able to read and complete the CME to for my biannual PA license renewal.

4. If e-mail were not fast enough, now there's Skype and I can talk with my boss in the US about work-related issues.

5. Podcasts - I download BBC programs, Escape Pod (science fiction podcast), medical lectures, exercise music, the New Yorker fiction podcasts, NPR, just to name a few.

6. Audiobooks - since I travel so much, being able to listen to books makes the drive more comfortable. And I get to keep up with books.

7. And on top of being able to listen to audiobooks, I also belong to a few online literature groups. When I have time, I enjoy the discussions. (In fact, there aren't many people who read the kinds of things I like to read over here)

8. Online writing groups - like Forward Motion, Musemuggers and Book in a Week. These communities are great for writing motivation.

9. And don't forget Nanowrimo, the biggest month-long writing marathon, held every year in November.

10. Blogging and reading blogs shares ideas around the world with all sorts of people online.

11. Online magazines and newspapers. I have to start the day with a cup of coffee and the New York Times Online. Where I live, the local papers have very little international coverage. The major papers, and print magazines and newspapers I get by post, are usually old by the time I see them.

12. When I have a broadband connection, looking at videos and downloading movies.

13. Keeping up a blog and sharing a little bit about where I live with readers.

There certainly are down-sides to the internet. I'm constantly warning my staff not to be too free with information online. They are also constantly clicking on the links in spam messages and making our computers sick. There's sometimes too much information out there - especially on medical sites, it seems like one day something is bad and the next day there's new research saying that it's not so bad. When news comes so quick, analysis is spur of the moment - everything is dire.

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1 comment:

SandyCarlson said...

I share the views you have listed here--especially No. 10. Your images take me to another part of the planet I will likely never see.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my blog today. The seed banks comment is especially enlightening. I imagine storing seeds has been the job of botanists and others for years. There is a museum nearby that sells "antique" flowers every spring. This is in part how. Thanks for taking the time and shaping this conversation! God bless.