21st Century Media.
Monday, October 02, 2006
  And I thought I was using the internet a lot.
A CNN.com story about the move of Baghdad life from the streets to the internet caught my eye today. The article discusses how citizens now create their communities via video conferencing and instant messaging, for fear of the danger that befalls those who get caught amongst the violence. I particularly thought this tidbit was interesting:

Perhaps the hardest part is electricity. Much of Baghdad had electricity for 12-18 hours a day before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Most neighborhoods now get electricity from the grid for just four to six hours a day.

It means ordinary people have to know their ohms from their amperes and their megabits from their kilohertz.

Most middle class households now have cables snaking down the street to a neighborhood "generator man" who gives them diesel-generated power for a monthly fee of about $10 per ampere. Six or seven amperes are usually enough for a computer, a TV and a fridge. An air conditioner costs more.

A neighborhood Internet cafe will sell a subscription for wireless Wi-Fi access to its satellite broadband hookup for about $40 a month.

One of the best parts about all this, I think, is that it's not about using the web to communicate with people across the world that you will never meet - it's about the real sustainment of a community and the ability to stay in touch in real time, despite hardship. Call me sentimental, but I don't think any discussion with a stranger - be it on a forum or in a chat room - can compare to discussions with friends. It's an example of a globalized network that works locally. And it keeps people safe.
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