Ashley's back in town, but some of his posts never made it to me, so I'm posting them in order:
Tess, Jenny, Mark (the filmmakers) and I hopped on an afternoon train headed for Cairo from Alexandria in order to meet with an Egyptian-American who runs a human rights internet group called Virtual Activism (see www.virtualactivism.org). The train ride from Alex to Cairo is surprisingly beautiful: along the Nile and Nile tributaries the rough sand of the Egyptian desert becomes lush farmland and greenery.
The meeting with the human rights activist (I'll leave her name out of this) went great--she was thrilled with the Bookmobile concept and thinks that it's an important way to solve the crisis of the digital divide in Egypt. It turns out that the Egyptian government has built the infrastructure for country-wide internet access--for FREE-- but the hardware is "prohibitively expensive" for Egpytians, in addition to the daunting knowledge gap that exists amongst the literate/semi-literate and illiterate Egyptian population. However, she also commented that showing people how computers and the internet--which is an opaque concept for some people in Egypt-- can produce a physical, tangible and familiar thing like a book, would help to drive investment in information technologies.