Automatic butt-kicker

Getting wired in Zambia

So you think you’re having problems getting broadband? The guys from Time Warner cable refuse to visit your house at a convenient time? Gettin’ kinda steamed about how hard it is to get online?

Try getting wired in Zambia. Josh Benton, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and a Pew Fellow in International Journalism, has been blogging about his experiences while abroad. A few days ago he posted a blow-by-blow account of what it’s like to try and get Net access over there, and there’s one really gorgeous detail:

- Fill out three forms, the third requiring the signatures of four witnesses and a process similar to notarization. Watch a woman pull out a huge ledger entry book — perhaps two feet long and a foot tall closed — and enter your name, email address, and password. Realize that every email address is Zambia is handwritten in this book. Wonder what would happen if that book got lost. Realize that no computers have been used in this process of getting Internet access.

(Thanks to Andrew for finding this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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