When I first arrived in Bhutan, I was invited to help the government's Department of Information demonstrate the power of technology in an effort to get more government funding. Today, I see that Ericsson have begun work with Bhutan's education department to install videoconferencing into five remote schools so their students can take lessons from a central group of specialists.
A Japanese exchange student, who joined my school in year 10, kept up with classes by translating unfamiliar words in her electronic translation dictionary. When I saw the same gadget on my first exchange to Japan, I would have bought it if I'd had the money. By the time I went back two years later, you could buy a similar device with multiple dictionaries, and even a calculator, loaded on removable cards. I spent the whole year fighting the urge to buy one. Soon the idea developed into personal organisers like the Palm Pilot and again I fought the temptation to buy my own. What would I really use it for, once I'd spent the money? I didn't need a diary or a calculator because I had a computer. Then Apple created the iPhone and soon it seemed that everybody had a smartphone, but still I resisted. I hated being tied to a phone and rarely took my feature-poor mobile out of my bag. Besides, if I was going to live in a developing country a smartphone would be an unnecessary reminder of wealth disparity and I probably wouldn't have a data connection anyway. Now that I've decided to stay in Australia for a while, I have finally succumbed and I'm loving my Android phone. Fiona teases me for constantly checking facebook, IMDB, movie times, ebay, goodreads and LinkedIn and even more for playing Alchemy and Flow. I even take it with me so I can monitor videoconference equipment when I support meetings at work. My computer is now almost redundant. So despite my frustration at the turnover of mobile phones (figures say the average usage of a mobile phone is just 18 months), I