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Asking Jeeves about the digital divide


August 15, 2000: This message was distributed by Papyrus News, a free e-mail distribution list on the global impact of information technology on language, literacy, and education. Feel free to forward this message to others, preferably with this introduction. For information on Papyrus News, including how to (un)subscribe or access archives, see <>.


I can't resist passing this one on :-). By the way, I checked with Andy, and he says it's authentic, not made up. Reposted with permission...mark

From: Andy Carvin <>
Subject: humor: Asking Jeeves about the digital divide
To: "Digitaldivide (E-mail)" <>
MIME-version: 1.0
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 03:54:03 -1000

Hi everyone. Just in case you're looking to start this week a little less seriously, I wanted to pass along an "interview" I conducted a couple of days ago. A member of the list passed along a hilarious article about Ask Jeeves, the search engine that has the reputation of understanding questions better than any other search tool. The article was essentially an interview with the search engine, in which Jeeves responded to questions about a new Jeeves service in Thailand.

Based on that idea, I thought it would be interesting to interview Jeeves myself, just to see if he had any thoughts as to how we should go about solving the digital divide. Here's what he said.

AC: Jeeves, are you worried about the digital divide?

Jeeves: Where can I find an online calculator?

AC: Well, online calculators are important. But what about giving everyone Internet access?

Jeeves: Where can I find a calculator to help me determine how I can reduce mortgage rate costs?

AC: A good question. But what about the gap between the haves and the have-nots?

Jeeves: Casablanca - Time did go by.

AC: That's not surprising, since Morocco is not the most wired country in the world. What would you do to fix that?

Jeeves: How many countries are there in the world?

AC: Probably around 200, if you count little ones like Lichtenstein or that new Sealand place off the English Coast...

Jeeves: Did you mean... count (title of nobility), blood count or Count Basie?

AC: None, actually. Anyway, how do you feel about improving literacy?

Jeeves: Would you like to post your question to Answer Point, the Ask Jeeves community site, where other Ask Jeeves users can provide you with valuable answers?

AC: Thanks, but maybe later. It seems we'd all like to hear your thoughts on literacy first.

Jeeves: It's an identity crisis/hiding behind masks/a carnival

AC: Very poetic, Jeeves. Illiteracy is indeed a crisis.

Jeeves: The Clinton crisis inspires books

AC: It certainly did, but they're not the sort of reading you'd want to use to improve literacy skills.

Jeeves: Speed reading will not only help you learn to read fast, speed reading can also increase your understanding of what you read!

AC: Fair enough, but speed is not important as understanding. Can you suggest any methods to improve information literacy?

Jeeves: "Latah County Public Library Literacy References..."

AC: Not familiar with them... I'll have to look them up. Let's move onto another subject. How important is content to low-income communities?

Jeeves: Profit taking halts market advance!

AC: In other words, Jeeves, you don't think community content needs will be solved by the market?

Jeeves: It needs to be used with caution... The toughest problems will be solved with a roll of the dice.

AC: I certainly hope not. Mustn't we make sure that citizens have the tools to determine and create their own content needs?

Jeeves: Virtual Free homepages! What all seniors should know about probate.

AC: Better said than I ever could, Jeeves.

Jeeves: Nutty sites - Crazy, Fun, Stupid, Wacky, Silly Sites!

AC: On that note, Jeeves, we should probably wrap this up. Any final words for our online audience?

Jeeves: Ignite any audience! Fire Captain Bob, motivational speaker....

AC: Thank you, Jeeves...

Jeeves: This was written at the time we met Danny Sims, when we could feel that an era of something good was coming to us. A breakthrough was coming then. We were happy...

(end of interview)

Andy Carvin
Senior Associate
Benton Foundation

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Last updated: August 17, 2000 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0