Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ruthie Writes To Bill Gates

I'm going to do it. I'm going to send an email to Bill Gates. THE Bill Gates. And to his people there at the Gates Foundation.

I admire and am very grateful for what he and his wife have done to provide free internet access to public libraries.

But for the past few years I have begun to see a problem.

And it's not the fault of the Gates Foundation.

It's the fault of the libraries that have received the grants from the Gates Foundation.

Today is a clear example of a good idea gone wrong. And I wonder if the Gates people even know anything about this.

I am sitting in a computer "lab" room at the public library in Flagstaff, Arizona.

There are twelve terminals in here,including the one that I am using, and other than myself...The room is empty. There are two rows of empty chairs and none of the computers are being used.

Furthermore, I am on an hour timer with no way to do email or save photos or anything else besides what I am doing now.

I have several emails that I want to put into my blog today, including a cool one from my friend Chuck Chambers, the private investigator from Florida.

He has included a photo with the email and I am not allowed to save it and put it on my blog.

Not here.

And because I am a non-resident of the City of Flagstaff, I am only allowed fifteen free minutes on an "email" computer and after that I have to pay.

Which I can't.

So I'm screwed.

Is this what Bill and Melinda Gates had in mind when they started their Foundation?

I highly doubt it.

And the "email" computers will not allow me to save photos, either.

The librarians run the computers with an iron fist here and this library is definitely NOT user-friendly.

I wonder how Bill Gates would feel if he walked in here and they treated him the way that they're treating me?

I'm going to do something about this.

Because this library is not the only one in the United States that is taking money from the Gates Foundation and then turning around and discriminating against people like me.

And this makes me mad.

It should.

I have seen libraries that charge money right off the bat for computer time...Like the one in Utah did...Just because I am not a resident of that community.

I have been limited, side-lined, dissed and kicked to the curb when I've requested equal computer time at some of these libraries.

Yet other libraries, particularly those in rural areas like the one in southern Montana that I used the other day...Just give me carte blanche and let me do what I have to do.

As long as I am not taking time that someone else needs, I've been allowed to do everything that I've had to do until I was done. Free of charge.

That's the whole point of the Gates grants, isn't it?

Since Oprah did a feature on the Gates Foundation recently, I think I'll send an email to her people, too.

I'd give anything to get a Gates grant of my own. I've proven that I am committed to using a computer for greater social good.

My blog is a testament to that.

And I believe that all Gates grants should be allocated on the condition that EVERYONE gets EQUAL ACCESS to all computers. Free of charge. Period.

I should be able to do my email. Post in my blog. Post photos in my blog. And never be charged a cent or made to feel like I am imposing on any public library.

Free-net access is just that: Free.

Click on the post headline above to visit the library section of the Gates Foundation website.

Then contact those folks.

Write your own letter to Bill Gates.

And send along a copy of this post if you would like to.

Thank you.

And one more thing: I'm sure happy that Google has seen fit to provide me with this blog space and my email account. Fair and free.

Aren't you?


Anonymous said...

a USB flash drive -- about $20 and smaller than a fish stick -- might solve problems where the library prevents your accessing the desktop.

Ruthie In The Sky said...

Hmmm. You mean I just be sneeky and stick it in?