(Via Boing Boing, via Quora) Michael Santos spent 25 years in prison, during which time his only connection to the explosion in communications technology was by oral accounts. (Which sounds like the excuse a Sci Fi novelist would use to give his narrator permission to explain everything.) Now, he's working to help people understand what it's like for people who are incarcerated, and help incarcerated people prepare for a productive, lawful life upon their release.
He answered a question on Quora, which has since been reposted by Gizmodo, about what it was like to emerge from prison and try to jump into the state of the art.
When I went to prison, in 1987, Motorola manufactured the large, gray cellphone that I used. People referred to it as "the brick." It had the capacity to send or receive phone calls, but there wasn't any text messaging back then.
I also had a pager, but it could only transmit digits, as I recall. I had a personal computer manufactured by IBM with a DOS operating system that I didn't really understand and 40 megabytes of memory. I was told that was a big deal. I linked the computer to an Epson dot-matrix printer, and I remember the perforated paper fed through on a track system that easily derailed. It was a hassle.
Technology has changed considerably during the 25 years that I served. [keep reading→]
He seems to be doing a good job building a motivational speaking career out of his incarceration, which is great, because he's pushing for productive use of one's time in prison, and decreasing recidivism. This is from his website:
If you’re going to hire a prison consultant, I’m your man. Unlike those who spent a few months in a single camp, I served 25 years in prisons of every security level. Yet while serving that time, I achieved more goals than anyone would’ve thought possible. Don’t take my word for it.
It's all pretty cool. I recommend the article.