Just cruising down the Ibadan – Lagos expressway at 120+ km/h when traffic from the other lane of the dual carriageway suddenly joins ours:
Welcome to Nigeria! This bizarre (but somehow functional) experience came to summarize my general feeling about Nigeria when I spent a few days working there last week. It’s something tragically comic, like, “How can this possibly be normal?”
I had intended to write about my experiences — watching Chinese tourists passing wads of US dollars to airport officials, airport security asking for “some Naira” from my pocket during frisking, the unavailability of any coffee except Nescafé, etc — but when I started thinking about it all I realized it was actually just tragic.
Nobody wants to be the last one holding the hot potato when the time is over; that’s kinda how I feel about electronic waste. E-waste is a really, really big problem. There is a village in China, for example, where people crouch over fires of melting electronic components (mobile phones, motherboards, wires, CRT monitors, etc). Children have sores all over their bodies, mothers have breast milk with heavy metals, cancer rates are through the roof. All of this just to reclaim a few ounces of gold, silver, or who-knows-what other precious metals live inside that 21st-century trash.
I just saw an article in Science Daily which talks about a “Digital Dark Age.” The introduction sums up the idea:
“What stands a better chance of surviving 50 years from now, a framed photograph or a 10-megabyte digital photo file on your computer’s hard drive?”
The article mentions 8-inch floppy disks as an example. Remember those, from the 1980s and ’90s? They were the floppy disks which were actually “floppy,” not those 3.5-inch ones some old people still use today. The “floppy disks” of this era are CDs, DVDs, and flash disks, and you may not foresee them going away any time soon, but it’s inevitable; what happens when those are phased out for “newer, better” storage formats? The year is 2020: where will you find somewhere to plug in your now-ancient USB flash disk (let alone your circa-2001 floppy disk)?