The Internet? What's That?

from the digital-divide? dept

Here’s a reminder for everyone who thinks that, by now, just about everyone at least knows what the internet is, even if they don’t use it. A study in Bulgaria suggests that 23% of Bulgarians don’t even know what the internet is. This isn’t really that surprising (it’s not like everyone expected Bulgaria to be teeming with internet connections), but it’s still worth remembering that the internet isn’t always as widespread as people think it is.

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Comments on “The Internet? What's That?”

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Doug says:

Re: Spin it the other way

the Internet is so pervasive that 77% of Bulgarians know what it is! Bulgarians, for gods’ sakes!

Hard to tell if that comment was intended in jest. I’ll simply point out that Bulgaria has historically been a hotspot for black-hats, and was in the vanguard of computer-virus creation (and release) 10-15 years ago.

From a 1997 article in Wired:

In 1991, few foreigners knew that Bulgaria had, in a series of Five Year Plans approved by the Politburo, created socialism’s first and only centrally planned home-computer industry.

In the late ’80s, students in Bulgaria had access to more computers than their peers in any other Eastern European country. They did what young people do when they first meet machines – they played, they explored, they programmed. The Bulgarians were busy building a digital culture of their own…

Bulgaria today is a land of economic destitution…. Where once Bulgaria produced thousands of Apple IIe and IBM clones, retooled factories now churn out pirated compact discs….

The group that came of age witnessing this transition is the Pravetz generation. Now in their 20s and early 30s, they are pioneering the expansion of Internet access, linking the nation – through cyberspace – to the rest of the world.

That was seven years ago.

Ted Zlatanov (user link) says:

Re: Re: Spin it the other way

The main reason people in Bulgaria don’t have Internet access or know about it is that the average monthly salary is barely enough to put food on the table so luxuries like computers are not available (but people want them badly, that’s for sure). There are other reasons: unreliable or unavailable electrical grid depending on the location, and a shrinking population that is growing older. I hope this helps casual readers form a better picture of this survey.

dorpus says:

Terrifying Encounters

Ok, I have been using the internet for about 13 years now, and I am a veteran of meeting many people off the net. At least among English speakers, I can spot liars right away. I’ve read books on police interviewing techniques, so I’ve made an art out of questioning people, surreptitiously or overtly, to find inconsistencies in their stories. I’ve built levels of trust with English speakers on the net that defy any common sense of “real world” relationships. I’ve been engaged twice.

But man, a lot of techniques that work for English speakers do not work for Asians — they have a different mentality. Mind games are taken to a whole different level. I had an angry 2-hour audio conversation via msn messenger with a Japanese woman on the other side of the planet. She’s like the ghost out of The Grudge. Say one thing, then say the complete opposite the next sentence. She found me equally perplexing, because I’m not “simple” like other American men. I felt like the way chess grand masters must feel when they have their tournaments. The world is still full of mysteries, I tell ya.

For a long time, I wasn’t even sure if she was Japanese or not. The way she behaved seemed way too manipulative for a white person, but then she’d stumble on Japanese vocabulary, asking me what a word meant. Sometimes she was joking, other times she really didn’t know what a word meant. After having the audio conversation, it’s apparently because she really is a Japanese person who deliberately speaks poor Japanese, to stay away from other Japanese. She wears shoes in her apartment, doesn’t bow, has never said hi to her neighbors, rarely goes out. The way she talks is so agressive/angry, I’ve only known angry American feminists to talk like that. She is apparently confident of her attractiveness, having no fewer than 3 boyfriends at a time. I think she was being truthful there, I’ve known net players who had even more.

I did also just meet another mysterious hapa last month, who speaks English with an accent despite growing up in Canada. Two unusual women in one month. I’ve told both about the other, and they hate each other already… hehe… I have had voice conversations with both, and they have different voices.

But I wonder, are there equally bizarre and terrifying encounters among e.g. deaf people, who live in a different universe without sound? Sign language has completely different grammatical rules from spoken language; American Sign Language grammar is more similar to Japanese than English, for example. Deaf people are literally part of a nationwide tribe of deaf people, who have mass social meetings in various cities, and frequently exchange text messages with each other. I’ve seen deaf people having text conversations with their friends thousands of miles away, at shopping malls, coffee shops. They’ve got their own slang and everything. There are deaf-hapas, if you will, people who can hear, but have deaf family members; or people who acquired deafness, or people who are able to hear again.

Will we have a future when rejected Bulgarian lovers showing up at American front doors with guns will become an everyday event?

Anonymous Coward says:

re: The Internet? What's That?

do you know which percent of european or american at all know what is the internet ?

But it is always better to pick up some small country to say see what is their rating….
But for wide public is more interesting not how many people in Amazonia know what is the Internet; most interesting is how many people in NY know what is it .

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