Anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows how much of a The Next Web (TNW) junkie I am. It’s absolutely my favorite place for online industry news for many reasons, not the least of which is it’s coverage of international and political online industry news as well. I am a political news junkie too, you see, which is why I follow a few pet news stories, like how the Chinese government is negotiating the fine line between economy-stimulating online innovation and communist top-down control. One of my pet new storylines is the explosion of online innovation in Africa. The the middle class is growing rapidly and that is creating a huge new population of consumers that love their mobile phones.
So clearly, this story from TNW this morning about the launch of Kenya’s first mobile apps development lab caught me eye. The new m-lab is designed as the next level for web innovators who incubated their ideas at Nairobi’s iHub.
It’s incredible how developing nations can skip the steps that today’s developed world took to reach its current level of economic development and the way populations of those developing nations grapple with the implications of such leap-frogging, and navigate uncharted territory, is fascinating. But aside from being and interesting news item, this is crucial information for every smart online professional.
There are still huge opportunities online for anyone in the US alone, in addition to developed Europe and Asia. There was a hullabaloo in early June about the Pew Internet and American Life Project report that said 13% of Americans use Twitter, up from 8% one year previously. That’s a fantastic increase, but folks—that’s still a tiny number of Americans. So when I tell you that smart online professionals are thinking about how to take advantage of opportunities in Nairobi, don’t think I don’t realize just how much untapped potential exists closer to home.
But the fact remains: the long-term future of the internet and web-based business lies in tapping the growth of developing nations like Kenya. Smart online professionals are thinking about that, and that’s why you’re here.
One of my favorite blogs to read every day is the Harvard Business Review for the variety of topics it posts about and the its interesting angles on the news of the day. And one of the my favorite stories of theirs in a while was this one, which talks about how physiological research done 50+ years ago is not only relevant, but basically predicated how social media would impact our world today.
The reason I loved this article from HBR so much is it affirmed for me, again, that there is very little we can’t know about the world around us if we study history. There is so little truly new, groundbreaking, or revolutionary out there; the same stories repeat themselves over time and everything that astounds us today has a context that makes it less sparkly and new, perhaps, but more relevant. The ipad is a truly wonderful thing that finally launched the tablet computing sector and will change how we use technology, but its just one iteration in a long line of new gadgets that humans have adopted. And though it’s impossible to predict how the latest social media start up will change things, it is possible to guess based on how that start up fits into its own historical context.
And the great thing about the internet is that the history of everything can be organized in such a way that its easier to find and apply to modern life. The internet is about connections; between people, yes, but also between ideas and things. The web makes it easier for humans to spot those connections and make inferences from them. And the more effectively people can apply the knowledge of the past to what’s going on around them today, the better off everyone will be.
If you’re that optimistic about human nature, of course.