Thursday, September 29, 2011

computers - not so much

I thought when we got here I would be overwhelmed by the technology. I heard Japanese people have fancy cell phones and love gadgets. I thought this love of technology would extend to computers and everyone would be pecking away at their lap tops. Not so. I spent a lot of time in air conditioned cafes this summer and I never saw a person with a lap top. People would be there working away in notebooks and on worksheets but not on computers. In fact, I don't think I've seen anyone anywhere public using a lap top. I also figured wi-fi would be ubiquitous but it really isn't . I don't think this is because I can't read. The Japanese borrow a lot of words from English - computer in Japanese is konpyuta, so I expect wi-fi would sound something like wi-fi.

I asked some Americans who have been in Japan for a long time and they think it is because Japanese people are not social risk takers. In the 90's when computers were all the rage in business, companies here figured they'd never used them before so why should they start now. The internet became associated with teenage girls following the latest J-pop crazy (youtube Smap if you want to see how bad music taste is here). It is starting to change, however. Presumably those same teenage girls are working at companies now and don't see computers as such a big risk.

The whole saying "there are no stupid questions" doesn't exist here either. People do not want to stick their necks out in front of their peers so they won't ask questions in class. This means they also won't ask for help learning how to use computers.

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