Every year billions of us shop, pay our bills, watch TV or play games using the internet. It’s moved from being the domain of the computer geek to being an essential part of modern life.
But despite its mainstream popularity, the net still manages to surprise with its ability to change the world in new and exciting ways. In particular in parts of the world not normally associated with high-tech gadgetry. The rise of the cheap mobile phones (40% of Africans own one), and software that bridges the gap between the web and the phone have led to innovative ways to combat extreme poverty and save lives.
Examples like the Zambian farmers who are able to check prices for their produce using phones or the crowd-source app Ushahidi, which generates real time reports from text messages – and has been used in the recent Nigerian elections, the potential for simple yet effective technology is enormous.
Many of these new technologies have been built at a grassroots level to solve local problems, and the resulting solutions have then been shared around the world using the same principals that originally gave rise to the world wide web.
To showcase and celebrate these new technologies and how they are used, and provide assistance for grassroots projects, the Guardian newspaper has created a new site called Activate, which is well worth checking out. The paper is also holding corresponding events in New York on 28 April, and in London in June, where ONE’s very own Executive Director Jamie Drummond will be speaking.
You can read more, including how to attend the events at the Guardian Activate website.