Why Teaching Technology/Web Is Important?

Why did I quit my job to organise an event. Here is the answer — the story.

My father is an active volunteer of an educational organisation. During the early days of his profession, the medium of communication was postal mails and he and his friends were happy with it. With the passage of time, things began to change — they started using email as their official means of communication. A section of employees and volunteers started expressing their dissent and wanted to resort to previous ways . However, in the long run they lost their holy war to save “tradition”.

So, one day my dad approached me for a new email address, and as a techie, I had to help him. Hence I created an email and also managed to find a complex password for dad. Naturally, I was concerned about security! The password was something like Do#g0od#everyday%:GM14. My dad, who was just stepping into the sea of technology and had a hard time memorising this, wrote the password in his pocket diary to keep it “SAFE”.

After a year, when I was home for Eid, dad came to me with the same pocket diary and asked me to open his mail. I gave him my laptop and told him to access it himself — again my concern was his online “privacy and security”. But my dad’s reply was shocking and funny . “How will I know this?”, he asked. I asked him how he accessed his mail frequently for the last one year. He said “I go to some Internet cafe/booth and give the password to the cafe boy. He will do rest for me.” I asked him out of curiosity, “ What about the security of your email? Will they sign out?”

His reply was, “Sign out?! What are you speaking about? And the password is safe in my pocket, right? Then how can the internet boy access it again? Abid, you are making things too complicated.”

At that moment, I realised that like thousands of old generation men and women, my father too has no idea about signing out or cookies! When I visited the near by Internet cafes, I realised that most of my dad’s friends as well as many others, follow the same method of giving the password to the cafe boy.

So, I started teaching the Web to students, teachers, auto-walas, friends, house wives, relatives etc. When I visited and talked at many Engineering colleges in Kerala, I found that most of the so-called engineering students thinks that they do not know anything about technology and are wasting their time in college. When I asked them, “Do you know Elon Musk, Richard Stallman, Aaron Swartz? (my super heros!)”, they looked down and said a quiet NO! Next I asked whether they knew how to shutdown a computer or open a word document, and the answer was a louder YES!

I told them to think about the 65%* including their own mother, grandmothers, father, friends, neighbours who don’t know what a computer is or how to turn it on! And asked them to teach what they know to others. Today, when I hear stories of how they changed others’ life, I feel happy and proud. And it has inspired me to write this note, even though I am the laziest cat in writing.

Now I feel accomplished when I watch my father proudly teaching his friends how to sign-out their mail or what a mac book pro is! Today, when I write this note on Engineer’s Day in India, a feeling of satisfaction and achievement envelopes me as I realise that I could play a role in changing many lives. I am thankful to WebMaker campaign for #TeachTheWeb and effort of amazing souls in CUSAT campus who provided me with the opportunities to do so.

I think that the best legacy, the best tribute we can pay to Aaron’s legacy is to continue to fight as hard as we can to make this world a more just, fairer place.
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman

My contribution for teach the web and spreading maker culture in Kerala with the help of do-gooders in CUSAT, Maker Party Kochi. See the After movie here.