I am here in a coffee shop, sipping my coffee, and banging away on my keyboard. Who would have thought that just less than a decade ago throngs of people were disconnected from the world, unable to share their thoughts and feelings online?
It used to be that I just pull out a pen, get hold of a table napkin or some piece of scrap paper, and jot down my thoughts. I only carry a pen nowadays. No need for a little notebook in my pocket. Instead, I open my Notebook, connect to the net, and pour out glimpses of inspiration in my head.
This is, actually, a much belated conveyance of what is happening to our connected world right now. Much has been said about the “uploading community” and the “participative” nature of the wired and wireless sphere (or should I say “plane”). Telcos used to worry about how much bandwidth to allocate to subscribers because of the downloading phenomenon just a few years back. With the advent of sites and technology such as Youtube, Bittorrent, Friendster, MySpace, WordPress, Blogger.com, Picasa, Flickr, and the like, the issue was suddenly how to properly allocate bandwidth to accommodate the thirst to upload content.
Yup, everything’s suddenly about YOU. Or, more rightly, the “I”.
I can now control whatever I like to do. I can now share pictures, prognostications, videos, my outrage at an injustice, observations about the funny and the stupid, my political views on the state of affairs of my country. I can now, most definitely, sell my junk and other valuable little items in a site called eBay. A dear Friend, who is not that technologically savvy, can now establish her own online presence through a website that she made herself. I can now drive traffic to that site by linking it to this blog… or by inserting a hyperlink to her URL.
Online commerce is getting there as well. But presently, only bits and pieces of solutions lay scattered and have yet to be strung together to form one end-to-end, integrated whole.
The next question waiting to be answered is…. How to connect all the connected individuals to the businesses they transact with and consummate that same transaction with a universally accepted payment method.
A quest has been set in motion a few years back. Though still in progress, much has already been achieved. No one’s at liberty as of the moment to proclaim the merits of this Grand Project online. Skeptics abound. The fear of the new and the revolutionary still rears its ugly head.
There are a number of visionaries who have and had conjured fantastic innovations. Bill Gates easily comes to mind circa early 80’s. Marc Andreesen and Scott McNealy must be mentioned in the same breadth. Pierre Omidyar of eBay fame. Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis with Kazaa and Skype. Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google are the most recent of this lot.
It is quite noticeable that none of these illustrious band of men came from our part of the world. An oriental claim to fame maybe that of the installation of Asia as the business process outsourcing haven (with India and the Philippines leading the pack… soon enough, maybe, China) of the global economy. But this has been more of an afterthought (and the pressing need to scrimp on costs), brought about by the advent of technological progress in the field of communication and software.
Now… What if… Revolutionaries and Visionaries will finally come out from the ranks of Asian thinking men and women? Is that a far-fetched enough reality? Asia, particularly the Philippines, are fermenting grounds of practical innovation. Collectively, the size of our markets dwarf that of the American or the EU economies. India and China alone can take up the cudgels for the rest of its Asian brethren.
What of the Philippines? Can a small nation, with markets dispersed by virtue of its archipelagic geography, a relatively meager population of 80 million, hounded by issues of corruption, bureacracy, lack of legal and intellectual property rights enforcement, and relative poverty, burst out of the pack to lead the world in the field of technology and e-Commerce?
The answers, again, may come soon enough. If only myopic and fear-ridden captains of industry will see the light.
I say this…. “In darkness, you grope hard enough and you’ll find Hope.”
A cigarette you may find, but a flicker tips its end.