Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'm currently in the throws of grading final papers for the class I TA at Duke and the last thing that I need is the internet to distract me. I've been wishing the internet wouldn't be so pervasive so that I can constantly be distracted by music or facebook or buying Christmas gifts or writing blog entries.

I'm sure my wish for technological isolation will seem ironic in a month when I'm in Senegal. From my time in Kenya this summer I learned some low-internet habits that helped me get things done with little to no connection.
1. Plan everything you need to do before you get online. Write emails, know what you're looking for, etc.
2. Bookmark all you important links before going abroad. Even tiny sites can take forever to load.
3. Don't unplug and replug, stay online. Giving up on a slow connection isn't usually worth it. It will always be slow.
4. Get the right gear. I'm not the person to ask about this, but there are faster and slower ways to connect, and some are cheaper than others. I'm trying to figure out what the best way to connect in Senegal will be. I'm trying to cover all my bases by bringing a Sprint Blackberry 8830 so I can use with a Senegalese number and hopefully get my email.
What I didn't realize before I went to Kenya is that the whole continent of Africa leaves one gasping for a fresh breath of connectivity, not just the rural parts. Even connections in the best malls of Nairobi are slow. Interested in more? Check out this poster on the internet in Africa via Eric and AppAfrica.

There's lots of talk of how 95% of people in Africa have access to a mobile phone. How this works out in reality is a different matter. Phones were guarded like gold in the rural community where I worked in western Kenya.

Good news- Senegal seems to be one of the better connected countries. And there's cables-galore being built in the next few years. Who will use the internet in Africa is another question. Study abroad students aren't a huge market.

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