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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Photo: Alexey Malgavko/Reuters
Alexei Dudoladov, photographed in the remote Siberian village of Stankevichi, Russia, on Nov. 13, 2020.

Sometimes it seems that American media are too inwardly focused, which is why I like getting ideas for the blog from people on Twitter who link to reliable foreign media — and why I appreciate sources like the Guardian and Public Radio International (PRI).

For today’s post I’m turning to PRI’s the World, where Daniel Ofman has produced a broadcast about a student in remote Siberia who had to scale a tall birch to get access to his online classes.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, working or studying from home requires logging onto Zoom or Skype. … Take Stankevichi, Russia, a 39-inhabitant village deep in the Siberian region. That is where student Alexei Dudoladov has been forced to go to great lengths — or rather, great heights — to attend classes online. He must climb a birch tree in his remote hamlet every time he needs an internet connection.

“The 21-year-old is a popular blogger and a student at the Omsk Institute of Water Transport, located 1,383 miles east of Moscow.

“Dudoladov, who also works on his family’s farm, has been posting videos of his daily routine on social media and keeping up with Russian-language TikTok and Instagram for nearly a year. 

“Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and authorities in several Russian regions moved university students to online classes to counter a surge in coronavirus cases. Dudoladov started to take classes online, but internet service at his family farm was patchy or non-existent.

‘Our village has really bad internet, so I found a solution. I climbed a birch tree. Up there I got a pretty good signal. The internet was alright, so I started studying on the tree.’ …

“But the arrival of the Siberian winter presented a new challenge for Dudaladov, who was spending long hours on top of a tree and under the elements. So he posted a video on social media appealing to Alexander Burkov, the regional governor, for a better internet connection — for himself and other students in Russia. 

“ ‘I want to ask you on behalf of all students who have bad internet, how are we going to solve this problem?’ Dudoladov asked in the video, which has since then caught national — and international — attention.

“Dudoladov has been offered some help from people in Russia and other countries, but he is still waiting for a satisfactory solution from the governor. … Dudoladov still catches the internet signal from the top of the tree but says he may know a guy who might be able to help.

“ ‘We hope that Elon Musk sends out his internet satellite system here so that we can have high-speed internet everywhere — not just in the US, but also here in Russia,’ he says.” Listen to the broadcast here.

I love learning what’s going on in other parts of the world just like I love knowing people from other parts of the world. Without PRI, how would I know, for example, that you can train for a career at place called Omsk Institute of Water Transport? (Be sure to look at their webpage.)

And speaking of higher education, without a friend from China, how would I know that a perfectly reasonable place to go to college is the province where my friend’s nephew goes — Inner Mongolia.

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Research highlighted at Pacific Standard sometimes strikes me as a little lightweight, but I am happy to endorse a study that Tom Jacobs covered recently, because I have some personal experience. It’s about the benefits of both cultural activities and Internet usage for older people.

Jacobs writes, “A new British study of people age 50 and older finds a link between health literacy — defined as ‘the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information’ — and two specific behaviors: Regular use of the Internet, and participation in cultural activities.

“ ‘Loss of health literacy skills during aging is not inevitable, a research team led by Lindsay Kobayashi of University College London writes in the Journal of Epidemiology and Health. ‘Internet use and engagement in various social activities, in particular cultural activities, appear to help older adults maintain the literary skills required to self-manage health.’

“The study used data on 4,368 men and women age 50 or older who participated in the English Longitudinal Study on Aging. Their health literacy was measured two years after they joined the project, and again five years later, by having them read a fictitious medicine-bottle label and then answer four reading-comprehension questions.”

I am over 50, enjoy cultural events and the Internet, and understand most medicine bottle labels. So there you go. It’s all true.

Get the key details at Pacific Standard.

Photo: Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock 

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An article in the UK’s Guardian addresses the fact that downtowns are changing now that so much retail activity is online. Some “big thinkers” were asked their thoughts on the future of downtowns.

Writes Tim Lewis, “Across Britain, one in seven shops is now boarded up, as consumers drive to out-of-town malls or wait out the recession with their hands in their pockets. Then there is the one-click efficiency of online shopping: the UK is Europe’s leading e-retail economy, with sales estimated at £68.2bn for 2011; the market grew 16% in 2011 and is predicted to increase by a further 13% this year. That is why high street chains such as Woolworths, Zavvi and Habitat have made way for an endless parade of mobile-phone stores and charity shops.”

In response, Mary Portas, who since May 2011 has been “heading up an independent review for David Cameron’s government,” solicited ideas from a variety of creative thinkers, beyond the usual urban planners. Here are a few of the ideas that surfaced.

* Artist Martin Boyce: turn high streets into urban playgrounds
* Retailer Jane Shepherdson: offer lower rents to attract new talent
* Architect David Adjaye: bring public buildings on to the high street
* Fashion magazine editor Lorraine Candy: “create a lust for bespoke shopping”

For details on how such things might be implemented to transform the high streets and their boarded-up storefronts, read the article.

Illustration about downtowns becoming more playful: Patrick Morgan for the Observer

high street

The artist: Martin Boyce
The idea: turn high streets into urban playgrounds

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