The Four Characteristics: ICTs as an Element of the Body
The interviewees testified that in recent years, they have tried on and off to protest the tough living conditions in the overcrowded centers, the arbitrary raising of their rent, and the lack of significant assistance that may allow them to move to housing of their own. However, these protests did not have an effect on the government or on the Jewish Agency. On the contrary, the interviewees reported that whenever a protest took place, its organizers were reprimanded by the authorities and subjected to threats and harassment.
The activists found the acquisition of a mobile ICT, such as a laptop computer, to be uplifting. A few of them said that the laptop was a kind of extension of their body. One activist, referred to as “A,” said, “...the computer is like an extra leg for us, it does what we want, and it’s an important and well-known tool.” Another activist, “Z,” said that “a computer is the equivalent of the circulatory system.a computer is like your circulatory system.” For “L,” the optimal situation is one in which the human being converges with the technology. Humans should “enter the depths of the computer.enter its insides,” he said, adding that
You know where you can get to with the computer? Technology [contributes] much currently. In order to fully exploit that capability you need to study the computer, to enter its depths. It may seem that everything is controlled by the computer.. .you have to enter its depths again and again, and not only to become acquainted with its appearance, its external look, what we see with our eyes. You have to log on to it repeatedly.
As he speaks his last words, L makes swimming motions and asks rhetorically: “Do you know how far one can get with the computer?”
The activists clearly identified in the ICTs (which, as stated, they did not yet own) first and foremost four characteristics. “Z,” who was orphaned as a teenager and looked out for his sisters while completing elementary school and who demonstrated advanced technological skills, stated that “the computer has many advantages.” He identified multimediality saying “you can combine between sound and picture.. .and transfer to world media.. .There are also applications such as Word and Excel that are good for writing, documenting and sending.For example, if I have a thousand friends on Facebook, I can distribute to those friends my photos and my messages. Like photos from protests I initiate.” He went on to talk about interactivity, saying that “for instance.. .we can receive and listen to all the news from the whole world. And we can also distribute.. .For example, when coming back home after work anyone can communicate with the others over Skype.” He also talked about abundance:
You can also access your bank account using the computer. The computer is important. It is hard to clarify [the importance] of the computer and to explain it in a short time because its contribution is so great. The computer can not only distribute; it can also help us access what has happened in the past. For example, take Google Earth. It allows us to see our towns and villages.. .The computer is the basis of life and it is not an exaggeration to say so.
Similarly, “R,” a twenty-seven-year-old single man who has been in Israel less than three years and completed only five grades in Ethiopia, reports of his experience “touching” a friend’s computer. It is a mixed experience of discovering abundance and interactivity. “I can log on to the Internet and look up places,” he says, “[when I] want to learn English, Hebrew, I can find on the Internet where that is possible and the number to call. You can get used to accessing the Internet to answer a question; to write what you want [to know], and everything there is in your computer, it helps. Also my telephone [pulling it out of his pocket] is like a computer, it helps in everything I do...I can know when I have a bus and it also tells me telephone numbers and time.”
Likewise, “Y,” who immigrated in 2006 with a wife he divorced shortly thereafter and two children and who was a shepherd in Ethiopia, focuses on abundance and interactivity. When asked about the functions of the computer he said:
To send email messages, to save important things.for example in the mobile phone we lose [data] when the phone breaks down, but if there is a computer we can save those things.
For “T,” an experienced activist whose activism goes back to the days of the encampment in Gondar, who is a high school graduate, and who worked as a teacher in the Jewish school there while attending college, it is mostly about mobility: “For example, the radio,” he says, and, continues:
We would have used the radio and many people listen to the radio in their cars. There is not a person in Israel that does not have a car, and if in the morning they listen to the radio and they hear about our problems, that can have an impact. The same applies to the Internet. That is why it is important for us to use it. Television not so much...The people use the radio and the Internet. That’s what I think.
Indeed, “T” identifies the importance of mobility. It is interesting how he differentiates between the power of the radio, which is ubiquitous and mobile (in every car), that of the Internet, which can be accessed from a mobile device, and that of television, a stationary medium that he does not find very useful.