photo: Eddy van Wessel


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Technology opens the world for us

When I arrived in Kurdistan for the first time in 2003, my Kurdish colleagues were writing their stories by paper and pen. By then, I had been working on computers for at least fifteen years, and was in contact with the world by email.

A couple of visits later, the first computers came in. My Kurdish journalist friends still did not have their own, they just submitted their written text to the typist. I remember visiting an editor in chief who had a computer on his desk. After he had been photographed there, he admitted that he did not know how to work with it.

I wondered how Kurdish journalists got their background information. Later I realized they did not. What they did not know and what their colleagues could not tell them, they could not use.

They did not even realize what they were missing. That the internet would become an extension of their personal memory and their knowledge. And if they were not sure about something, they could to check it on the internet. That it could improve the quality of their work.

For me that had been a natural for years. If you do not know something, or you have forgotten it, you go to the internet and google it. A world of knowledge is out there in cyberspace.

Likewise, at the borders of Kurdistan, at the airport, and at the security police nobody was working with computers. Everything still was done on paper. And only a couple of years later most of these place could not work without them.

But computers as a tool only work if you use them well. If you do not take the time or you are too lazy to google the missing information, it does not add a thing. 

If information is not fed into the computer, the system fails too. If there is not a good program to retrieve the stored information or to share information between systems, it is no use. And if people are not instructed how to work with those programs, the computer remains just a shining tool at their desks.

That is the next step being taken at the moment in Kurdistan. Much needed, as you can see when you visit a ministry or any government building, a hospital, or the residency office where computers have not really reduced the waiting or processing time.

At the same time, Kurdish youth have found their way on internet. Everybody has a Facebook account, and Twitter is also gaining popularity. Internet connections have improved greatly. I only hope they will realize the unlimited possibilities they can tap into, the world of knowledge that is just a click away. That internet does not only open their social life, but should open the world to them.

This blog was published in Kurdish in the daily Kurdistani Nwe

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