From Scribing Letters to Facebook, Fast

Our school and village had no electricity. When I left in 2007, I kept in touch with people mostly through letters. The school and village still don’t have electricity, but these days I keep in touch with people mostly through Facebook.

Many of my former students now have cell phones. Some of them live in towns where they have electricity and can charge them in an outlet connected to the grid while some still live in the village and charge the phones with small solar panels or by paying someone who can take it to electricityland. They Facebook on these phones, and some are on the site almost as much as an American teenager.

The situation blows me away because I was the first to show the students a digital camera back then. I would ask them if they had heard of the Internet and not a single student even knew what it was.

It’s been such a rapid transition — only six years — to go from the 19th century to the 21st. And they virtually skipped the intermediate technologies of landline telephones, then cell phones used for talking, then personal computers used for email. It was straight from writing on paper and licking a stamp to social networks on the Internet. Talk about bridging a gap. They are now on equal footing with everyone in the richest countries in this respect.

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