Friday, December 15, 2006

Information labor and cultural exchange - a former student of mine speaks out

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to find an email from a former undergraduate honors thesis student of mine, John Pederson, who is currently working in Indonesia on a Fulbright English Teaching scholarship. That in itself reveals a form of information labor and cultural exchange that, although overshadowed in the popular imagination today by stories of military occupations and the hunt for "terrorists," at least some young people in the US (not to mention around the world) still find rewarding and important. But more than simply teaching English and learning Bahasa Indonesian, John is helping construct a local information infrastructure in other ways:

Luckily, I've had the help of an entire village to help me with this and lay the foundation, literally, for the first student radio station in Sekayu, Indonesia!

The tower looks more like student science fair project than the future of free speech for a young democracy. But once up and running, the tower will broadcast the opinions, interests and ideas of a generation to an audience of about 6 kilometers—more than enough to cover the entire village.

John also impresses me with his efforts to bring his work and the work of the people in his village to the global public through a rich web site he created at -- a nice example of the way personal publishing and the public interest can coincide, and in more than one cultural environment besides.

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