I’m constantly suprised by people’s misperceptions of the internet in Pakistan. The older generation seems to view it as something incomprehensible, and at the most good for emailing and/or wasting time. The younger generation seems to think that the internet consists solely of chat and Hotmail. I have never come across a teenager using a pc who wasn’t either on MSN Messenger or Hotmail, or both. While this is a very informal/personal/biased survey, in the last 6 years I must have come across at least a thousand teens using the internet, and all of them so far have been emailing/chatting or playing some game or the other. It’s sad, when arguably the sum of all human knowledge resides at our collective fingertips, and so many don’t even give it a passing glance. The key is to be learned enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, which is becoming increasingly difficult. I had written about “organizing data”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/technology/2003_09/how_do_you_organize_your_data.html earlier, but before doing that, the data to be organized has to be winnowed.
In the third world, where libraries hardly exist and public schools teach junk, the Internet is a godsend. Let me rephrase that. Proper usage of the Internet is a godsend. Every school should be teaching how to research using libraries and the Internet, to organize and sort, and most important, to evaulate and process all this into something original using the student’s own thoughts. The Pak Govt. has been promoting software parks, call centers, and other white elephants, but when it comes to putting money where their mouth is they fall short. That might be a bit harsh, as they have set up the “Virtual University of Pakistan”:http://www.vu.edu.pk/, but that is not going to help the masses. By the time people get out from public schools (the few who _can_ go) most will have received such a bad education (_if any_) that they no longer think creatively. See Jang newspaper article: “Policies on education need dramatic changes to improve standards, says educationist”:http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/jul2003-daily/05-07-2003/metro/k6.htm.
A hunderd years from now, Google will have reached the “Star Trek future”:http://ad.doubleclick.net/jump/N2537.osdn.com/B1218879.3;sz=336×280;ord=1065295351: you talk into the air and the computer processes your question, figures out its context, figures out what response you’re looking for, searches a giant database in who-knows-how-many languages, translates/analyses/summarises all the results, and presents them back to you in a pleasant voice. For the present we have to make do with what we have, yet even now being able to use the Internet properly is like learning to read once more. Suddenly your horizons open up to a limitless world of knowledge, people, opinions, and the most important of all, the ability to connect with people from all over the world.
bq.. How much do you rely on the Internet for information? Since getting online 7 or 8 years ago, I have gradually abandoned almost all other sources of news and information, to the point where they’ve pretty much disappeared from my life.
p. The above question should read: How much has using the Internet expanded your information horizon? With books, tv and magazines, you remain limited to what you have available, and it takes a lot longer to quickly look up new areas. Using the Internet, anything and everything I want to find out about in more detail then I’d ever want to is readily there in a few seconds.