Democratizing Information: The Rise of The Young Leader, Online Information, and Power

I recently finished Malcolm Gladwell’s somewhat oldish book, Outliers, which made me think.  It wasn’t anything I hadn’t thought of before, but at least it made me feel less crazy.

The premise (gross paraphrasing going on here): People are successful/rich/whatever because of their environment, and NOT necessarily because they were super special (i.e. it takes a certain level of intelligence/hard work to be successful, but just because you have those pre requisites it does not mean you will make it to Bill Gates status)

That being said, I was thinking about why you have this massive wave of young people leading things.  I think its directly linked to the internet and the availability of information.

From personal experience, I know that whenever I have any business problem, I either a) shoot a mentor an email to schedule a call/skype session/answer it over email or b) buy an ebook about it and download it to my iPad.  Guess what: 99% of the time, it solves my problem.

When I attended the Clinton Global Initiative, I was at a session which featured a 15 year old panelist who basically changed the way we treated Cancer.  What did he site as the reason he was able to do what he’s done?  That’s right: Google (I kid you not he literally said he self taught/read journal papers off the internet)

Disruptions in academia/online education are already receiving huge VC attention: Coursera and Udacity are ones that come to mind (raising $16M and $15M from Venture Capitalists respectively to date).  Imagine never having to go to a University again and pay that $20K-$50K/year sticker price.  Crazy right?

Is information power? I think it is.  Which is why not having the internet is kind of a big deal.  Who doesn’t have the internet?   According to Google, India has less than 10% internet penetration- which is why they’ve partnered with INK to do something about it.  Pretty neat-no?  My house in Hubli SOMETIMES gets internet, which is why I”m hoping they’re going to get on that whole getting everyone internet ASAP.  HUGE difference between my online experience/productivity in Bangalore/Mumbai (huge happy face) with that of Hubli (big crocodile tears stream down the cheeks face)

Personally, I think places like India are going to skip over personal computers and go straight to internet on a mobile device, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s true.  Cellular penetration is ridiculous- hopefully they can piggyback broadband on there as well at some point.

At the end of the day, I’m no academic, and if you have some strong reasons why you don’t think the internet is one of the best things that have happened to society, power to you.  But I think it would be very hard to dispute the fact that the internet/mobile/personal computer  phenomenon is a game changer.

And sometimes, when you’re feeling pretty…blah…about life, it’s pretty amazing to look up and realize that you are in the midst of a revolution.

Of epic proportions.

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