Internet in Indonesia have been existed for quite a very long time, most early adopters would still remember the ugly days of using dial-up connections, visiting plasa.com and trying to log on to gain pornographic material. Today Indonesians fondness of internet and its content (which include pornographic material, celebrity gossip, information of stock exchange, social sites, online gaming, etc.) is climbing towards the peak. This could be seen not only by the increasing number of the cyber cafes but with the increase of people filling the normal cafe with their laptops or other 802.11 gadget, and increasing number of ISP.
There are however several issue that did not resolve along with the increase the internet usage in Indonesia, first is the utilisation of the internet to increase productivity, second is cost of the internet service. The two issues will affect one another, awareness of the importance of internet as a mean of effective communication will increase the number of ISP thus increased market competition therefore reduced cost of the internet could be achieved. This will bring us to the topic of the writing, first how to use internet as a mean for effective communication for professionals and casuals alike and second what can be done to reduce the cost of the internet.
The forgotten one: e-mail
To kick-start the utilisation of internet as a productivity machine I believe we need not to look forward, the technology that allow us to be productive is already present ever since the birth of the internet itself, which is the e-mail.
Along with the now popular blogs and forum, e-mail has been the starting line in internet interaction, before you can join forum, make blog, playing online game, chat, buying stuff over the net you got to have an e-mail address. An e-mail address will show who you are; for instance kids and adolescent e-mail address will differ with those professionals or grand parents. E-mail address also is an important part of the public address of company to NGOs, government departments to The Ministry, both public and private school as well. Unfortunately despite the increasing number of internet user and thus e-mail user, the usage of e-mail in Indonesia (as a mean of communication) could be called tragic.
Why tragic? to make a clear picture regarding this tragedy, let me tell you my story on job and information hunting;
After graduation I have been trying to convince my parents that the good thing to do is to continue my studies, get my postgraduate degree and look for work overseas, unfortunately they are not very keen of the idea, stating reasons that I need to experience in the working environment and taking postgraduate degree could be done later on in life. I swallow the bitter pill and began looking for work and information, I look for jobs over the internet and newspaper over the time. So far there is nothing different than the average Joe right? however, being a firm environmentalist I always try to sent my application through e-mail to various companies, in order not to waste paper. Over the time, none of the local company reply regarding the availability, even though their advertisement still present on the job seeking site.
So I kept wondering what went wrong with my application that is being sent through e-mail? A few possibilities remain; first, my resume is not good enough for their criteria, second, there are already a person filling for the position and lastly they just does not open their e-mail account periodically. Giving the fact that Indonesian, are not very fond of their e-mail based communication, I began to suspect that the reason they did not inform me back regarding my application is because I contacted them through e-mail not by actual or physical mail. Thus I began to look over the company websites, and unfortunately as well, some of them are very difficult to navigate, others are still on construction and some even have been expired. Therefore there are no other form of two way communication other than phone call.
The stories above are one of the example of how Indonesians still do not consider email as a mean of effective communication. a second example might be a simpler, try picturing a craftsman who would like to expand his market. He could promote his crafts by two means; produce an advertisement or waiting for buyers to come, we will not elaborate more on how the way he sit, instead we looked up how he could market his crafts. First, he could produce few brochures regarding his product and will try to market it nationally or even internationally via email or other internet interaction or he can come to the advertising agency, pay some amount of money and let them create a giant billboard and put it on the side of the main road. No need for a calculator for this one, the cost of producing email and sending it are cheaper than producing a giant billboard. This second example would only work in several condition, however, To target a national buyer, the buyer should also have internet connection and second, e-mail might easily reach people around the world, however it is also easily ignored, therefore there is a need to set up an internet marketplace; a blog, or social website account might just do it.
Therefore, given the increase of interaction between people in the world and the ever growing conscience on our impact to the environment, I believe e-mail could be an important substitution if not a complement of how we should interact with one another, both professionally and casually. People and the government of Indonesia thus, should care more regarding the use of e-mail, and by doing so hopefully, the internet is no longer a place to download any pirated intellectual property and porn but as a place to learn and growing.