by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
access, innovation, wireless

Innovation In Wireless: The Disruption In Connectivity

from the data-everywhere dept

This post is part of an Intel-sponsored series of posts we'll be doing here at Techdirt on the topic of innovation. Posts in the series consist of a video interview of myself (which you'll see below), the post, and another video interview with an Intel representative and others. That second video, obviously, is content from Intel, but my video and what I've written here was done with complete and total editorial independence. We hope you enjoy the content and take part in the overall discussion, either via the comments or through the interactive ad unit to the right of the post.

When most people think about wireless technologies today, they think about the fact that it makes it easier for them to connect their computers without having to plug in. Or that it lets data flow to their smartphones. But the overall impact can be seen as being much more profound. First up, here's a short video of me talking about the impact of wireless technologies:
I think it has become easy for many of us to take for granted the power of wireless connectivity. It's almost difficult to remember what life was like before we had data at our fingertips anywhere, at any time on any device. And, yet, it wasn't that long ago that this wasn't true at all. WiFi has only been around for about a dozen years. Mobile cellular data (at any reasonable bandwidth) is much more recent. And, yet it's become so embedded in our lives. The idea that you can get directions anywhere, pull up information about any shop or restaurant, or even access any content at all is so powerful, yet almost feels mundane already.

But think about just how powerful it is in areas that were barely connected at all in the past. We've read stories about communities in developing nations where small players, who only used to have access to the nearest market, can suddenly reach out to others, and actually allow for competition for their products. That can be a massive change, in that it gets rid of a monopsony situation, allowing the poor in developing countries to get out of a never-ending cycle of poverty.

Similarly, wireless technology alone is enabling new careers and new types of businesses. There are the famous stories of women (and it's almost always women) in certain rural villages, who have built careers out of carrying around mobile phones that can be brought to different farmers, and used on a time-share-like system. This allows those farmers to have access to data and connectivity, but also has provided a way for those women to build up a career for themselves.

And think, then, about what begins to happen as the vast richness of data and information, that we now take for granted, reaches further and further into the far corners of the globe. The ability to do more, to build more and to connect more is going to reshape the lives of the many billions of underprivileged people of the world in ways that we can't even begin to fathom. The world just reached an astounding 7 billion people -- most of whom don't have access to many of the things we in the west take for granted -- including information. Wireless technologies have a chance to change that equation, and what comes out of it may be completely unexpected, but tremendously powerful. The idea that people who in the past may never have had an impact on the world may now be able to reach out and share their ideas and innovations with everyone is a revolution that is destined to bring powerful new ideas to the entire world.

Below you can see a video Intel put together, discussing how powerful wireless technologies can be.

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2011 @ 7:42pm


    Right. A chubby homeless guy who cuts his own hair.

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