Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We Live In a Post-Jobsian World Now...

I am still processing what I want to say about Steve Jobs, who passed away far too young and far too soon. I might as well out myself as a long-term Apple fan, and do feel free to tease me about it. As it happens, I wanted this week's article to be topical about the internets and stuff because I'm in the middle- literally, the middle- of a course on social media for social change. Topical, yeah. But I had to shoe-horn Steve in because I ran out of wordcount making the case for a computer in every home. It might be ambitious and unrealistic, but so was universal suffrage at one point in time. Coming soon to an East African near you:
"And now we live in a post-Jobsian world. Computers as they work these days collapse the walls between work and play, and increasingly through social media they are bridging the gap between the personal and the public. With the internet becoming increasingly accessible, physical distance is becoming negligible. Information in the blink of an eye, saving the time that it used to take to go to a library or a bookshop or an expert. The planet has witnessed the emergence of the communal human superbrain, and it lives online."
I hoped that the term "post-Jobsian world" might be my neologism, but Google tells me otherwise. I suppose it was too obvious a term not to be coined. Anyways, the point of the article is that projections of a Tanzanian future seem a bit short-term and conservative to me, recycling through the same problems that face us now. Have we run out of imagination, or are we afraid to dare? Have we lost our mojo? I hope not. While we build schools and roads and lay down water pipes, we should be dreaming very big dreams about things like eco-friendly public transport systems in urban centers, and e-learning, and boosting our intellectual productivity...


  1. the danger of dreaming big, of course, is that the elite get e-learning and boosts to their intellectual productivity (they probably don't need the public transport), while the poor are still waiting for a water pipe to turn up near them.

  2. ...yeah, but not really. i don't think it's a zero-sum game: check out how Daraja is using technology to encourage water service delivery in Iringa. Creative problem solving is usually enhanced by ICT. If it weren't for mobile companies and Nokia's cheap phones, we'd still be depending on TTCL... even courier pigeons are more effective.

  3. fair point, tho i would also note plenty of other countries around the world have managed to deliver clean water to their citizens without having an ICT-wielding corps of citizen watchdogs chasing them up. as u know, i'm a bit of a techno-geek meself, so am totally in favour of using ICT to the max wherever it can help. but tz is not suddenly going to transform itself into an ICT-powered knowledge economy. a lot less than 1% of the population would have the smarts to benefit from it. cheap mobiles = much better than TTCL and work for lots of people :), but e-learning and intellectual productivity sound like perks for the likes of u and me. and it does become a zero sum game when the govt decides to get involved (as they too often want) as the govt has limited budget and limited attention of senior people with ability. but if u can persaude the govt to just get out the way (and free up tz's internet pipe from TTCL's grubby claws) then i am 100% in favour of dreaming big! after all trickle down works just as well for the knowledge economy as it does for digging stuff out the ground.

  4. TZ is not suddenly going to transform in any way, we're not very good at rapid take-off :) My argument is really about a longer-term goal that aims at avoiding the government's limited thinking and embraces a future where e-citizenship is going to become a very important quality-of-life factor, just like now there is an undeniable gap between those who must depend on their physical labor to make a living and those who can (thanks to formal education) move up the labor market hierarchy. Trouble with the GoT is that it wants to participate in everything, which as we all know is the kiss of death. so really the question is: how do we avoid letting the government in on the fun lest they ruin it?


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