The camera frames the bow of a dugout canoe plying the placid surface of the Peruvian Amazon, then cuts to eight-year-old Lidia, who is fidgeting on her
porch in the small forest village of Purus. “What does civilization mean?” she asks the camera in Spanish. “I hear people talking about ‘civilization,’
and I don’t understand.”
Thus begins an excerpt of the film Web, an in-progress documentary by director Michael Kleiman examining among other
things the developing world’s first encounters with the Internet and information technology. Lidia begins her distracted accounts of how she and her
classmates first received laptops – as part of the One Laptop per Child initiative.
“The teacher only taught us how to turn them off and on,” she says. “When one classmate learned how to do something, they’d teach another classmate. And in this way, we all learned.” One of Lidia’s most prized finds on the laptop is Wikipedia. “Wikipedia is where there is all the information,” she says. “You can find things that you never knew in Wikipedia.”
“This video moved me deeply,” says Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. It’s not difficult to understand why. The footage demonstrates in pictures the power of
what Wales has been advocating for years: the distribution of a high-quality encyclopedia to people everywhere in their own language. “That’s who I
am. That’s what I am doing. That’s my life goal,” Wales has said.
Free download: The current article of SAP SPECTRUM Issue 4 | 2010.