Hope for the future: A couple of recent news stories point to the incredible resourcefulness — and speedy learning — of young people encountering the Internet for the first time. The Financial Times reported late last week on Indian street children discovering free Internet terminals placed on the streets of Delhi by a researcher. According to the story, these kids figure out how to browse the Web within minutes, without any instruction at all. One group of children even figured out how to disable the monitoring application that the researcher was using to track the kids’ activities on the free kiosks. What’s interesting is how quickly the children gained sophisticated computer knowledge by working in more-or-less cooperative groups.
Somewhat more frightening, but still inspiring, is the story of Marcus Arnold, a 15-year-old who became one of the top legal experts on an advice site, despite having no legal training whatsoever. In this long but thoughtful NY Time Magazine piece, Michael Lewis talks to Arnold and his family, and meditates on how the Internet enables kids like Marcus Arnold to jump out of their physical circumstances and grab opportunities that would be otherwise unavailable to them. It’s worth a read.