Bill Gates, Laptops and Confusion

May 27, 2009

On his visit to Spain, Bill Gates met the Spanish prime minister and didn't fail to lobby for Microsoft computers in schools. But lacking knowledge of Spanish regions led to some confusion and did not quite bring the attention he might have wanted.

Although he was officially in Madrid to reach some cooperation agreements between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Spanish government, everybody was expecting Bill Gates, who met up yesterday morning with the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to also lobby for Windows on the laptops that are expected to be given out to Spanish students in September (for the full story see here and here). And lobby he did, although things didn't go quite as expected...

By the time Gates and Zapatero had got round to the press conference, the software mogul had forgotten the name of the region where Microsoft and Co. had run the pilot educational programme and, after a brief hesitation, he ploughed ahead just saying "a region in Spain" (see video here).

Not surprisingly, El País, Spain's biggest daily newspaper, immediately mentioned Aragón in their report of the meeting. El País has a vested interest in the project as it belongs to PRISA, a great Microsoft ally (they were also in the Aragón project) and the same holding that owns Santillana, the biggest publisher of school textbooks in Spain.

But RTVE, Spain's national public TV network, announced that Gates was referring to Extremadura. Extremadura, the poorest region in Spain, is famous for its Linux-based IT educational network, that helped it shoot from the bottom of the list of computers per student, to the top (the region has one computer for every two students, while the national average is one computer for every fifteen). Several other regional sources interpreted Gates vague praise as references to their own educational programmes.

Meanwhile the news that Gates had praised the GNU/Linux experience in Extremadura had hit Meneame, the Spanish version of Digg.

Some hours later, probably alerted by the unusual amount of traffic to the piece, somebody at RTVE noticed the "mistake" and "Extremadura" was erased from the text, to be substituted by "Aragón".

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  • Video of the prime minister
  • gossip

    gossip it indeed seems to be...
  • gossip

    , ,
    this is just bullshit gossip...

    why are sparing pages for such nonsenses
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