Thursday, June 09, 2005

Making connections

Besides the underemployment in the formal sector here (the informal sector doesn’t even bear thinking about), the other thing I’ve noticed is the abundance of Inernet cafes. A few years ago Zona Sul was lucky to have one, in the Letras e Esprecoes bookshop in Ipanema. And trying to use it was frustrating in the extreme. Since there was only one, you had to wait until the person on it came off. But because it was unlimited access you could wait five minutes or an hour. Sometimes even longer.

Then they introduced a list: you could put your name down to use it if the computer was in use. The problem was that didn’t work either; since computer use varied from person to person, you might come back after an hour and find yoursefl still waiting; or as usually happened with me, come back half an hour later and find you had lost your place since it became free fve minutes earlier and I wasn’t around.

When I was last here in Rio you can’t believe how much my mood improved when I discovered they had put another three computers into the shop. But by then the bookshop had competition in the area.

Is this an endorsement for free markets? I never thought I would mention that in the context of Latin America!

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