Thursday, October 20, 2005

Work in Accra Vs. San Francisco

Here is a post I wrote on October 29, 2001, about working in IT in Accra compared to San Francisco (this appeared on the site):

There are similarities and differences between working in IT here in Accra as compared to San Francisco. Sometimes when I'm sitting at my computer in the air-conditioned Africa Online office, with employees IM'ing each other, opening Photoshop, and searching on Google, I feel right at home. However, during each workday there are reminders that um...well, as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz puts it: "Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore." Here is an attempt to begin to spell out some of the differences:

IT Work in San FranciscoIT Work in Accra
HTML to music: Aphex Twin, Sun Ra, Pink Martini, or Yo La TengoHTML to music: gospel, "Shake the Booty that Jesus Gave You", Air Supply, Amakyee Dede highlife, or one's favorite pastor preaching on JOY FM
use of headsetsoffice sing-along
T3 connection33K connection down for the day
office doglizard running up wall
storage room filled w/ reams of paper for the printerboss locks 10 pieces of paper in a drawer, print with permission on special occasions
personalized computer monitors decorated w/ toys: Pez containers, Slinkies, mirrors, anime stickers, etc.shared computers
miniskirts, noserings, t-shirts, jeanscrisply-ironed shirts and ties, batik suits and high heels for women
order groceries online with credit cardorder office servant to go down the street to buy Fantas or roasted plantains (ask friend from US to order online with a credit card, as they are illegal here)
surfer slangTwi, Ga, Ewe, pidgin, the King's English
burrito at deskkenkey (fermented corn mush) and fish from a chop bar
call directly out from co. phonesask the receptionist to make a call for you
employees get right to workemployees greet each other: "Good Morning"
air-conditioned server room that engineers sneak into to be aloneair-conditioned server room with 13 engineers working in it fulltime
have work meeting w/ new client, then go to lunchhave lunch w/ new client, eventually go to work
look at monitor while someone is conversing with you, since work is more importantlook at person while someone is conversing with you, since it's rude to keep working
leave early to go windsurfingleave early to get ready for a funeral
IT bustIT boom

Monday, October 17, 2005

Today's Mix

I am reading:

Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy by Robert Farris Thompson. This book shows how the aesthetic sense of the African diaspora is derived from five African civilizations -- Yoruba, Kongo, Ejagham, Mande and Cross River.

Managing Turbulent Hearts: by Unni Wikan. An anthropologist explores what's behind the bright face that Balinese people present in public. Wikan makes use of the anthropology of experience to study emotion. Fascinating sidenote: there is one word in Balinese to mean thought/emotion: kene.

Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine: by Holly Morris. Around-the-globe in pursuit of women who pursue their passions.

Africa: A Biography of the Continent: by John Reader. Epic overview of African history.

And remembering:
An El Anatsui sculpture at San Francisco's De Young Museum Saturday night. El Anatsui is a Ghanaian sculptor who lives and teaches in Nigeria. The sculpture at the De Young was reminiscent of Kente cloth, but made of folded-up recycled metal tins. Gorgeous mix of old and new.