We have an old laptop that has travelled almost everywhere with us… twice to the USA, our whole time in Ecuador, and now back to the UK. And although that’s only about six years in human terms, in IT-years our faithful laptop is ancient: its battery is completely flat and won’t recharge, so that the laptop needs to be constantly plugged into the mains, the hard disk is crammed full of documents and photographs, and the desktop has disappeared and we have access to the information only through the task manager.
Before leaving for Ecuador we had begun to hear about the new world of iPods and MP3s; but not enough to start to get interested, and certainly not to imagine that we might get some for ourselves. While in Ecuador we found that some of our colleagues were wired in to regular podcasts from home; and we were still casual about the technology gap… but it was widening every year. We arrived back in Britain to find that something called Kindle was already a household name, and topical discussion included the relative merits of different tablets, which not so long ago would just have meant fudge.Now, six months into our Home Assignment, we’re pleased to report that we’re better acquainted with at least some of this new technology. Katuska bought an iPod to encourage her as she went running, and has now found she prefers an MP3 because itunes is too complicated for what it really achieves. She also discovered that the Deutsche Welle website has a fantastic pool of podcasts in African Portuguese; and the Internet is full of free educational stories for children in just about any language you could choose. But best of all, a generous supporter has given us a brand new laptop, enabling us to get linked up to all this, and a Kindle too, whose massive but weightless internal library we are gradually stocking up with volumes that we expect to be reading for years to come.