The Training

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The next morning, after many months of preparation and thousands of miles traveled, it's thrilling to see Sean and Marcelo stand in the front of a packed room, starting the training. "This is a web browser," Sean says, booting Firefox on the large screen behind him as Marcelo repeats his words in Portuguese. The 20 or so young Surui students, each seated at a computer, look up at the big screen, then back at their monitors.

His class is solemn and focused as Sean continues going over the basics: Here's how you boot your browser. Type in a search term. Study your search results. Each of these linked phrases leads to a new web page.

One student does an image search for [Rebecca Moore] and gets a pinup photo of the Rebecca Moore who happens to be Miss Alabama and a contestant in the Miss USA contest. "Was that when she was younger?" the puzzled student asks Sean, Over Rebecca's protestations, Sean decides that this is an excellent moment to teach the Surui how to refine search queries. [Rebecca Moore Google] produces more useful results.

Rebecca, meanwhile, watches another student doing his first web search, on [desmatamento Amazonia] (deforestation Amazon). He gets his search results and is rather stuck. "He didn't know what he could do," she recalls, "so he was clicking around randomly on the page." Rebecca shows him what a hyperlink is and he clicks on one for the Amazon deforestation page. At this point the back button lights up; she shows the student how to return to the previous page. And back again to the original Google search results. And now the forward button is highlighted as she shows him how to click forward again. Then, she says, "I see this dawning light of comprehension over his face-he gets it. I witnessed him getting the hyperlinked web for the first time."

The same discovery is happening all around the room. And when another student, surfing from page to page, happens upon a lush photo of the rain forest, I'm reminded of the afternoon before, when we were in Lapetanha, when Almir took our group on a walk in the rain forest...

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