Charles Basenga Kiyanda

A new approach for a new year

I’m spending the holiday period with my family in Montreal (Québec, not Missouri) and, as usual, the computers and network here need some tinkering with. Along with the computer, my father also needs some clarification on how to use the computers. Somehow, because I use matlab in my everyday life (ok, I do more than that, I’ll admit, but still…) I’m the one who then needs to explain how to save a file in excel.

Up until this particular session, I had tried to simplify the truth as much as possible (‘Ok dad, this blue box is a router and it gets you on the internet’) with the occasional over-simplification that borders on lying (‘Yes, dad, when you open that program you are ON the internet’).

This year, I’ve decided to try a new approach. I’ve stopped lying. I sat down 5 days ago for our first “There is a problem with my computer” session and I decided I would stop lying. So I told him the truth flat out.


Once I got past the blank stares and the initial objections, I was given a chance to explain myself.

There is no one computer which contains the internet and there is no central authority which looks at your e-mails and decides where each particular one should go. The internet is a collection of networks hooked up together, which are themselves made up of collections of computers hooked up together. You have a network here at home (son points to the router) which is held together by that blue box there, your router. You hook up your home network to your ISPs network through that (son points to floor in the direction of the cable modem) and your ISP is connected to someone else’s network, which is connected to several networks, which are connected … (son looks for paper to draw a sketch) … which are connected to different ISPs like yours, which are connected to other people’s home networks or computers directly. You don’t go onto the internet, you are part of the internet.

(If there are simplifications in there which are incorrect, please tell me, they might stem from my own incomprehensions of the subject. Like I said, I’m not expert, I’m just the one who has to explain them to our father.)

In any case, so far, it appears to be working. My father now seems to have a real comprehension of what an internet connection is. We set up the home wireless network so that it would be secure again (there was a problem recently and my father called the ISP, since I was unavailable that day. They made him set it up open and unsecure.)

We’ll see how well my new approach works. So far so good, let’s see how much progress my student will make in the future.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>