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.