March 23, 1999

Highs and lows

By ANITA MATTHEWS

 

BEING the only Malaysian at MIT Media Lab's Junior Summit was indeed exciting for Gerald Tan. Awed by personalities and armed with ideas, he had high expectations.

But he was a tad disappointed. For starters, he felt that there was a division between Asians and Caucasians, although Nation1 declared all persons to be equal -- which he thought was unrealistic.

Delegates at the summit tend to talk a lot but were not getting organised, he says, adding that everyone was proposing ideas and no one was making decisions.

``I thought someone should be put in charge of Nation1, and we had to get away from the discussions and start doing stuff.''

Instead of mulling on its shortcomings, Gerald continued to work for the Nation1 ideals.

``The scariest bit was standing on a construction plank to make a speech to a 100-strong audience,'' he says.

Gerald also had the opportunity to work with the vice-chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), John Perry Barlow, which turned out to be an interesting experience.

The Junior Summit is a programme run under the auspices of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Laboratory. The programme is sponsored by Lego, Swatch, Acer and Citibank.