Monday, September 15, 2008

Hate: lack of information available online

So this week there’s an “Energy efficiency” fair in the city hall here in Montevideo. Oddly enough I’ve been really excited about it for a couple weeks – attribute that to a number of factors: studied energy issues in Latin America at my last semester at SAIS, energy is a huge issue in Uruguay considering so much of it is petroleum-based and thus imported, the link between energy and economic development is so important, my own energy bills for a small studio apartment are outrageous, and let’s face it, there’s a lack of excitement in Montevideo, making an energy efficiency event a reason to get pumped.

So last night I’m surfing the web and find my way to the site of the host of the event and find their write-up about the event. Pretty good, has the basic information… there’s an event, it’s this week, and it’s about energy efficiency. Hmmm… what time does it start and end? Doesn’t say. What’s this? A course associated with the event on Monday from 8-12 am and 3-7 pm, “Architecture and Energy Efficiency”HHmasdlfjhlsdjkflsdaflksdfj. Hmmm… I wonder at whom this course is directed? Is it the same course at two separate times during the day? Or is it different information during the two sessions? Can you just walk up and attend the course? Or do you have to be registered? I wonder if it’s free. Hmmm… hmmm… hmmm...

Never mind, this is Uruguay, connectivity is growing rapidly, supposedly 200,000 DSL connections (in a population of around 3.2 million) but their internet culture is not like the US; sometimes you just have to go and talk to someone in person to get the information you need.

So up and at’em early this morning. Get to city hall by about 8:05. Hmmm… what’s this? There’s just a bunch of empty booths and one dude hanging up the sign of the host of the event. So I ask said dude, is there some sort of course at 8 that is related to the energy efficiency event? Ah yes, he says, are you registered? No, I’m not; I really don’t even have any idea what the course is about, just saw on the web that there was a course. Ah yes, it starts at 8:30, wait just one second and she’ll register you. Said she gets situated behind the desk, your name? OK, that will be 400 pesos (20 bucks), are you an architecture student? No. Professor? No, I’m a Fulbright scholar, just interested in energy efficiency. Oh, this course is for architecture students…

Ah hah! You see lady, I knew there was a catch, I just knew it. I was on-line last night. Yeah, on-line, the internet you know, Al Gore’s invention. I did my research ahead of time, after painfully navigating to information about this event, of which your organization is the host – there - is no “events” section of your website, just a “news” section – but anyway… that is irrelevant, I found the section with the information. And I saw that there was a conference on energy efficiency. Of course not surprisingly you didn’t put the time of the conference on the webpage. Which is annoying, and it’s annoying that I show up here at 8 am and there’s just a bunch of empty booths! But not all that annoying, I had a feeling things wouldn’t get going until later. But this thing with the course IS really annoying. First, why do you put 8 am if the course really starts at 8:30 and at 8 you haven’t even finished your mate and set up the registration desk? Why don’t you put Registration: 8, Course starts: 8:30. Huh? Would that be so difficult? And why don’t invest another three lines of text and put: this course is directed at architecture students or others somehow linked to the architecture profession. And by the way it costs 400 pesos. Huh!? Would that kill you!? Was your website host charging you by the letter and you thought it better to save the pesos than to provide me with that information!?

You see lady, what you don’t understand is that I’m a gringo, yeah that’s right, a Yaqui. Mmm hmm, you got it, the very same that ol’ Hugo sent to hell 100 times over the weekend. And I’m internet-spoiled. I don’t even use the phone. I make phone calls using the internet. Yeah that’s right, yes you can do that. Crazy I know, but it’s called TECHNOLOGY. And you see this culture of internet spoiled-ness means I want to go on-line, find information about your event, and know what time it starts, whether or not the course is useful to me, how much it costs, so that I don’t have to walk through the misting Montevideo skies at 7:45 am to be told that the most I’ll get out of this morning’s effort is a little exercise!

God how great it would feel to say that.

6 comments:

Meredith, Mai or Chisomo said...

The fact that the energy conference was even mentioned online leads me to believe you are way too spoiled by information! Try coming to Zambia...

Hilario said...

Welcome to Uruguay, try getting a driver`s license, haha

Erin said...

"The internet, you know, Al Gore's invention"

Awesome. =)

Alex said...

jaja. I'm sorry, it is not fun. But Uruguay is like this.
We are different cultures. You the american are very punctuals and formal. Uruguaian do not.
Why you comming to here?
Good luck.

Pd. Why love and hate? What do you love about Uruguay?

Amelia said...

you are a mess. i love the al gore comment. and yes, it's another culture - love/hate that it may be - a beautiful one i can imagine. what you are experiencing is invaluable. enjoy friend! enjoy! and who gives a flip about punctuality - i frankly think every time/appointment should be an approximation. maybe we'd get to enjoy a few more simple pleasures if we arrived at 9:09 instead of 9. that's my theory and a thread of gypsy freedom keeps me from the grips of a rat race.

Anonymous said...

Uruguayans are an extremely lazy people, they didn't give more information because that might mean that they may actually have to do something more than the absolute minimun effort to collect whatever meager salary they are getting, god forbid. At the same time barring their own love/hate/envy of Argentineans, they still think their 100 year old educational institutes and attitudes are world class, what a joke! Welcome to Uruguay. Your interest an initiative is something they could never fathom and were most probably intimidated by someone who might actually know something about the topics they were going to pretend to be experts in. They DID NOT want you there. Get it?