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What It Looks Like to Use the Internet for the First Time (vice.com)
82 points by danso on Aug 25, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments

I stood beside my 67 yo mom when she used Internet for the 1st time. Her first reaction was Wow - Google knows everything. :)

We've spent many millions broadcasting radio and TV to Cuba (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_y_Televisi%C3%B3n_Mart%C...). I wonder what the obstacles are to providing internet access via something like Project Loon. Free, uncensored internet access would be a far greater catalyst for regime change in Cuba than those shortwave broadcasts ever were.

By 2020 80% of humanity will have access to a smartphone connected to the internet.

As a programmer I am really optimistic about the future :)

They certainly won't be threatening your job any time soon. We won't be educating a new generation of programmers when 80% of users' primary computing device is a phone.

Why not? You can get a computer which runs linux, and lets you learn how to program, for far cheaper than the average cell phone costs. For example raspberry pi runs linux and you can buy it for $30.

Right now the thing that is stopping more people from learning programming is probably the unfriendliness that is associated with setting up your environment for the first time and learning everything from scratch.

The $30 price of a RaspberryPi is pretty disingenuous. You also need over $100 of accessories to actually use it as a desktop computer.

And as an advertiser even more so

A Pessimist, an Optimist and an Ad-man are standing around a new born infant. The Optimist says "Two more hands to work". The Pessimist says "One more mouth to feed". The Ad-guy says "Eyeballs"

That was quick - when I was there at the end of 2013 internet access was hard to come by and very expensive, and also very transient

If you don't read the article just look at the pictures, all you can see is people staring screens. That bothers me a lot.

It shouldn't. You're starting at a screen to read this. I am staring at a screen to write it. Communication with people outside of shouting distance has always required staring at something. It looks passive, but it opens up a world inside your head.

Put aside the romantic notion that these people are losing something. They're gaining access to the rest of the world. They deserve it just as much as you and I.

Highly related -- the notion that we need to preserve linguistic diversity by making sure obsure-language communities stay where they are, instead of learning languages that allow them to participate in the world economy.

Oddly, this is an area of debate in linguistics, where you find people saying things like "well, these communities with their languages spoken by 300 people are great for us professionally, but it's hard to say the parents are wrong for wanting their children to be able to have jobs outside the village." But... public opinion (in the US) seems to be entirely on the side of stasis - if the world included an inaccessible 300-person village with its own language last year, moral correctness requires that that village and that language persist as they are forever, and what the villagers might want is irrelevant.

Communication media are not primarily of benefit for their aesthetic appeal. They are of benefit for letting people communicate.

>the notion that we need to preserve linguistic diversity by making sure obsure-language communities stay where they are, instead of learning languages that allow them to participate in the world economy.

In the Linguistics community, this is not an either-or proposition. The focus is on preservation of minority languages in the face of the economic necessity to adapt to the majority language. The economic necessity will always win out. There's no need to defend it.

Additionally, the ethical concerns with Linguistic preservation are numerous and well-acknowledged. There are many indigenous languages that may never be preserved simply because the people who speak them specifically refuse to participate in it and the professionals in that field respect that (they don't have much choice, of course).

I've seen this anti-preservation sentiment before and it's quite puzzling; it seems to assume a demand by the preservationists for monolinguistic isolation that doesn't exist. That is, most of the world's people speak 2 or 3 languages anyway, so the call for everyone to "learn English and forget the rest" or something similar is not even necessary.

I specifically called out that the linguistics community says a lot of very reasonable stuff here, in contrast to the public. Are you disagreeing with me about the public? I'm not disagreeing about the linguistics community (except to say that there are definitely pieces of it that take a whole-hog preserve-them-regardless-of-their-own-good view of things).

The demand for monolinguistic isolation is real, and springs from the same realistic viewpoint you've stated that "the economic necessity will always win out". That you don't share it doesn't mean nobody shares it.

That's an interesting contrast! Language preservation efforts by professional linguists do usually have a lot of respect for the speakers' autonomy, where tourists' desire for things to stay the same so they can go see them as they used to be might be less respectful of local people's autonomy.

Of course linguists also have a scientific interest which isn't necessarily motivated by a view that it's good for people to speak their heritage languages, so much as that it's important for people documenting the language to have access to as many competent informants as possible (ideally also over time and from different walks of life). The ethical part as I understand it might be more like a desire for people to have access to the resources and circumstances that will let them become as competent as possible in all the languages they want to use.

I realize we're wandering way off on a tangent here, but. . .

I don't know that folks are in favor of stasis, per se. I get the impression it's more a by-product of the collective guilt a lot of Americans feel about the knowledge that the country was built by displacing and destroying a great many cultures. Loss of languages in particular is associated with the Carlisle school.

So folks are used to thinking of this stuff in terms of imperialism and ethnic cleansing. That maybe leaves them less likely to recognize that the issue has other facets as well.

In my analysis, they are in favor of stasis per se; I see this as the same wish that drives most of the modern environmental movement. The arguments for preserving linguistic and ecological diversity tend to be the same, and quite often are nothing more than "if you can identify the agent, change is bad".

It's safe to assume that, with the ever-expanding TEFL-abroad programs, those in favor of linguistic stasis are not particuarly impactful.

Appiah's Cosmopolitanism was interesting on this point, and you might find it worth reading.

Well put.

Also related: there are similar articles around lamenting the effects of Cuba's opening on the pristine beaches. There are plenty of places in Cuba that might see new tourist activity where once there wasn't enough demand to build anything. Intrepid travelers can currently get there and enjoy the feeling of being transported back in time -- that will presumably be lost. Absent in this line of thinking is how badly Cubans want those jobs, and how much better their lives may get.

Victorians once rationalized their treatment of colonial subjects by arguing that the "noble savage" is purer, and better, than the industrial Westerner -- that they should be spared the need to toil in the muck like the modern man in England when it would be more virtuous to maintain their simpler lifestyles. "Oh no, they'll get addicted to Instagram like the rest of us, they'll stop playing cards!" seems like the same sentiment to me.

I really like this thought, but it doesn't seem negative enough so it doesn't ring true.

Your derision makes it sound like staring at a screen is the same thing as, say, staring at a rock. It's not. You probably wouldn't sneer at someone who gets lost reading a classic book for 2 hours, but apparently if you're reading that same book on a screen instead of on dead trees, you must be living a sad life of avoiding the real world.

One of the things I liked most about my month long visit to. Cuba was that he kids, instead of being inside playing computer games, were running through the streets while the adults sat around playing card games etc. it was so much more social. I hope this doesn't change

It's local socializing. But to call online interactions "not as social" seems quite silly to me. If anything, it has the possibility of being more social.

The internet has connected me with people worldwide. I've stayed with people I've met online. Something my parents would never have dreamed of being able to do. I learn about global politics and the differing worldviews of people from Australia, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Sweden, the list goes on and on.

I'd much rather discuss the cherry blossoms in the Spring than play a game of cards. Or learn how a saying in America might have a different meaning in Australia (and vice-versa).

I find my online social life far more enriching than the forced interactions of my life offline and find it irritating when anyone ever implies it's not "real social interaction".

My "fake" social interactions have taught me a foreign language, made me more aware of geo-political differences, and put me in touch with people I'd never have gotten a chance to meet if I went out to the park to socialize with the local kids instead.

This reminds me of the Pirate Bay movie where one of the defendants quarrelled with the term "in real life" (suggesting that Internet interactions are as "real" as face-to-face ones).

I think it's interesting that people are coming to such different views of the value and genuineness of electronically mediated interactions and relationships.

I often quarrel over the term "real life" and prefer "offline" for much the same reasons. There is offline/online but both are "real life".

You should be the change you want to see in the world, and stop using computers and the internet then.

How zen of you

Not after you read this:

>>Accessing the internet through one of the 35 government-owned hotspots on the island costs $2 CUC per hour (CUC is pegged 1:1 with the dollar), which is 10 percent of the average government-set salary. To waste time helping a stranger or chatting up a friend can end up being a not insubstantial waste of cash.

Very sad that social surveillance systems like facebook are taking off in these uneducated minds. Firefox OS should contribute to liberating these people by enabling mesh apps... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10120722

Related to this is 'El Paquete' - a weekly offline delivery of the internet. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33816655 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Paquete_Semanal

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