Innovation happens everywhere

Development Policy09 Aug 2009Frans Bieckmann

I was sent a link to an interesting talk of a social media guru, Clay Shirky. Shirky comes up with two examples of the use of social media that creates a totally different media landscape and therefore is a great transformation only comparable with the invention of the printing press in the 1400s – one example was about individuals videoing the voting with their cell phones at the polling stations in the last US elections in November 2008, to avoid fraud; and another one of TXTs (SMS) sent around before the Nigerian elections in May 2007, to urge people to go and vote. According to Shirky, what was important was not a technological transfer from the developed world to the developing world, but the transfer went in the opposite direction – obviously the use of advanced mobile phones was much more wide spread in the US than in Nigeria, but it was the US election campaign that learned from the Nigerian example. Shirky’s conclusion: it is not technical capital that matters, but social capital. Now that media are social, innovation is happening everywhere and can move from one spot to another, Shirky said.

PS: interesting of the TED website is that the video of the talk comes with subtitles in eight languages, an example of a more polyglot internet.