When you hear me talk about how techno-centric the U of M is, do you ever think, “But what about the poor kids there on hardship scholarships who can’t afford a fancy laptop? What do they do? How can they ever bridge the digital divide?”
Don’t think that anymore. As you might expect, someone thought of it first.
Scattered around the campus are public computing centers like this, which is the largest, the Angell Hall “fishbowl.” They’re all stacked rafter-high with computers, a lavish assortment of powerful PCs and Macs, equipped with all manner of Zip drives, scanners and the like, with lesser models set up as e-mail-only centers. (The campus runs on e-mail; checking it hourly or at least several times a day is nearly essential.)
But I didn’t get really jealous until I wandered through the fishbowl this morning and saw half a dozen brand-new, smokin’-fast Apple G5 Macs, each one running with not one but two monitors. (People who run graphics apps frequently need the extra monitor, which works like an extension of the main one. If you’re doing photo retouching, for instance, you can blow your picture up big on one and keep all your Photoshop tables on the other.)
I think my last official act on campus may be to use my academic discount to buy one of those suckers. Or maybe not.