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Children lead the PC-adoption pack

All this is well and good. I remember my early years as a tech journalist. In those days of zero tech background, technology press conferences were interspersed with visits to mortuaries, hospitals and crime scenes.

In fact, I was far more comfortable with the latter than with having to sit through three hours of the speaker droning on about why Malaysians needed a PC on their desktops. The long, monotonous discourses used to give me a giant headache at the end of the day. I had sooner sit in a courtroom and listen to prosecution officer arguing about stolen chickens. At least we'd got a kick once when the bailiff brought in two live chickens to proffer as evidence! Even having to trudge through mud to get to the scene of the accident, when a Flying Tiger airplane crashed into the hills nearby, was worth the hassle.

Somehow, the press conferences, media briefings, seminars and technical workshops organized by computer vendors were not half as fun. Well, we didn't mind too much that there were always sumptuous lunch or tea spreads served at each event.

Still, all those press functions and free food must have had an impact. I, too, was eventually caught up in the tech mania and honestly believed that owning a computer would change my life.

But while everyone was revved up for the technology revolution, the downside has been campaigns like the recent one launched by the venerable minister. Would it work? Is it practical? Where is the catch? Does it cover all the bases? Do I really care?

There is no denying how useful a PC can be and how it will enter our lives one way or the other. If it is not by way of the clunky machinery that defines the computer, then it is a chip buried in our refrigerator, microwave oven, cellphone or some other gadget that is making headlines worldwide. But the computer has not reached the sophistication of a refrigerator that you can open and take out cold food, to quote Don Tapscott's daughter Nicki from his book "Growing Up Digital".

Undoubtedly, children are less afraid of technology and more prepared to explore, unlike adults. Yet, some of the cold dishes such as software applications are intangible, and one mistaken click of a mouse can land your PC in the computer store for days.

Dispatch from Malaysia

Here's a nation that has built a first-world infrastructure. But can the country truly lead its people down the Yellow Brick Road to the smart city of tomorrow? Our Dispatch from Malaysia taps into the collective mindshare.

Check out previous dispatches from Malaysia:

Bad PC vendors makes no cent$

Real world Net cynicism in a wired world

The art of resistance

Surfing on the Sulu

High-tech utopia or myopia?


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