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April 15, 2005

"What's Google?"

Regarding Daniel's point on child poverty and the promise the internet has for linking kids to a world that'd otherwise remain inaccessible, I want to tell a quick story. Grant, one of my closest friends, works with Amnesty International going into urban areas of Chicago and teaching the students about human rights. A recent lesson plan of his focused on Abu Ghraib and American attitudes towards torture. Towards the end of the lesson he noted that further pictures, documents and information could be found on Google. One student raised his hand and, not joking, said:

"What's a google?"

He wasn't the only one in the class not to know. We take it for granted that the information revolution sweeping through our lives has, to some degree or another, rippled into every crevice of America. It hasn't. And while modems aren't a silver bullet to poverty and despair, they do provide those hoping for a better life but sequestered in an impoverished one with the opportunity to tap into worlds beyond what they know. Using the net, you can look at colleges, e-mail admissions officers, read blogs, scan the news, meet new people, read new things, and on and on. Will everyone use the computer for that purpose? Of course not, most will hone in on the porn. But for those who do want to expand their horizons, giving them that opportunity is a moral imperative.

April 15, 2005 in Economy, Web/Tech | Permalink

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» Google Is Not Only A Search Engine! from wallies.info blog
Google is a search engine and it is probably its core business, but Google is much more! [Read More]

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Comments

Amen to that. I was stunned the other day when a not-stupid co-worker said of the Toyota Prius, "I thought you had to plug it in! I didn't know!" Everybody's got something yet to learn.

Posted by: Carl | Apr 15, 2005 5:57:00 PM

Clinton's push for PCs in all schools was surely one of the best things he did.

I haven't seen any stats on what percent of schools have pc/web access available to students. That it isn't 100% is just outrageous ten years after the outbreak of web growth in 1995.

Anybody remember using the first version of Netscape besides me? (grin)

I still chuckle when Bill Gates admitted publicly that Microsoft had missed the boat and would make net connectivity a basic strategy. He did deliver on that, to his credit.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 15, 2005 6:29:00 PM

To be fair, internet porn can be pretty horizon-expanding. I never knew people put broccoli into other people until the internet came along (no pun intended).

Posted by: TJ | Apr 15, 2005 7:23:11 PM

However, if you really provide the average citizen unfettered access to the technology that would let them learn and develop independent thoughts and opinions they might not blindly follow the BS you are putting out to mislead them.

Posted by: Jack (CommonSenseDesk) | Apr 15, 2005 11:40:22 PM

To be fair, internet porn can be pretty horizon-expanding.

Seconded. Especially if you're, say, living in some fundamentalist hellhole and you learn that you're not the only person in the world who is sexually attracted to members of your own gender. (Or likes to have sex while wrapped in bacon, or whatever...)

Posted by: Geoduck | Apr 16, 2005 5:37:11 PM

I'm impressed that the school allowed a discussion on Abu Ghraib and torture. My niece has to do an 8th grade exit project and wanted to do it on Abu Ghraib and opinions on torture.The school wouldn't approve it because it was too controversial and because of "sexual content". I was aghast. She's switched topics to execution of minors and it doesn't make sense to me that this is an acceptable topic where detainee abuse is not.

As for the issue of tech in schools - I work in the field of educational technology and the sad truth is that schools haven't yet figured out how to use tech effectively, poorer schools don't have the money to do so, and Bush's budget eliminated to sole source of funding dedicated specifically to tech purchases in schools. Access to the Internet is a clear benefit in schools, but we're coming off a period when 26 states cut education funding, where the latest budget cuts a large number of education programs, and where what money there is has to be allocated to NCLB testing and test prep. Schools are fighting to keep teachers, art progams, sports.... Tech is a low priority in this world so I'm not suprised that kids don't know what a "google" is.

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