At the Huffington Post, Bianca Bosker offers a fascinating look at how Myanmar, which up until recently was pretty much an Internet black hole, is dealing with being connected. An excerpt:
Eh Thaw Taw—“Royal” to his Facebook friends—relies on his Huawei smartphone for the usual message-sending, picture-taking and status-updating, but he never, ever uses Google for the simple reason that he doesn’t know how.
“I can’t search,” the 24-year-old says, thumbing his phone as we stand under trees on the Yangon University campus, which reopened last fall after being shut down in 1988 by a military regime wary of protests. What if Royal, an economics major, needs to look up, say, the gross domestic product of the United States? “I ask my teacher, who will search for it,” he answers.
Royal’s classmate, 20-year-old E Lawm Nap, is appalled. “In this century, every person can use website or the Google!” she chides him.
But then again, this is Myanmar, a country that only three years ago had a lower cellphone penetration rate than North Korea, and even now enforces a policy of one SIM card per family. It’s a country where computer schools still lack computers; text messages can take two hours (or two days) to arrive; and Royal is forced to be nocturnal, since the only reliable Internet connection he can get is from midnight to dawn.