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Digital Spirit

Digital Spirit

There is a bandwagon that has brought us to this space. It is of finding something that can’t be quantified in value. This is from moving from the basic needs of an individual of food, shelter and clothing and trying to crave an attention. An attention that makes someone listen to our emotions, our adoration of God, rants about Nigeria or colour of Lady Gaga swimsuit. There were times we read Newspapers, consumed content and took columnist as infallible priests. We now own blogs or scribble on Facebook pages. It is a digital era spanning into social media of user-generated medium.

We belong to the Google generation. We have learnt to separate content from the carrier. The carrier possibly MTN, IPNX or GLO reserves a right to charge for its transmission medium and links across the oceans to overseas servers but content online should be free. Why should I write this note and charge you for reading it! We move from one Google app –Gmail, YouTube, Google Alert, Chrome or login to Facebook and twitter account without using a payment card.  So is ‘Free’ not the spirit of the web? Can we ever be receptive to willingly pay for any content or service that dots the web?

Have we ever pondered if we ain’t giving something away possibly something we can’t monetize? I mean our privacy as Facebook makes its settings more clumsy or our loss to legal entitlement as Terms and Conditions are too lengthy. Shouldn’t we ponder that when we do a Google search and click a link, we are making the search query better and profiting Google. How sure are we that our private information doesn’t get passed on to advertisers to maximize advert-targeting potential? But who really cares when we voluntarily share our relationship status or put a picture of our drunken pictures at a bar? When our utmost secrets and convictions find its way to the status update bar, how much privacy or respect for our rights do we care for?

I have always seen this web commerce into two states of economic model. A group of volunteers in a collectivist system who trying to find self-expression or have access to a boutique of information is making Silicon Valley happy.  If Facebook is valued at 50bn dollars which is much more than Ford Motors with all its automotive plants dotted over the world, where does this bogus valuation come from? It comes from the new friend request sent, childhood photo now uploaded or video innocently shared to your friend. So when Facebook says it has over 500 million followers with over 10 billion connections or Twitter boasts of 7000 tweets per second, a premium is placed on the personal lifestyles we create on the web as a tool for marketing. So we have a capitalist upper class of geeks and entrepreneurs who are pushing up their valuations by putting a price on our orgasmic excitement as community to share with each other. A short story is about two friends Chad Hurley and Steve Chen started the Youtube in 2005.  Less than two years when anonymous people like you and me created content by sharing videos, it was sold to Google for $1.65bn. We were not paid from the bogus cash. The same goes for Skype, an invention of an open lab founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, was sold for the third time to Microsoft at $8.5bn.

Things are never going to be same. Newspapers in print will go but news will sell in another medium. Britannica Encyclopedia has lost market share to likes of Wikipedia. Music stars might accept to forgo illegal online music sharing because it gives them a platform to be well known and called for concerts, endorsements and tours. People will be arrested for shoplifting but they will find it not wrong to lift a phrase from this note without thinking about copyright.

Everything is virtual and quick and but we love it that way. You can ask yourself how many friends you have on Facebook and how many have you truly define the word ‘friend’. If in the midst of a raging storm you need help, how many would you talk to? It’s a digital world coded in restless oscillations of electromagnetic waves. It’s a new dawn in human age, so much endless thoughts on how this new digital culture will vaporize traditional habits in every sphere of man.

The Thing Between Your Legs

There is always an awkward moment in our lives when a part of our body acts faster than our brains. When the conscience wants to act like a control measure, we quickly shut it down. Rather than take few minutes and plot the scenes rationally, applaud our senses for saving us from a misstep, we decide to assume full control. At times, it is beyond an accidental occurrence, it is a part of us that we conceal from the glazing camera and public spaces. It is the innermost desire of our hearts that found an opportunity clothed in ‘secrecy’.

 The stick or wedge between our legs takes men or women from steep heights of giants to the low valleys of midgets. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was a saga that left stains on a remarkable presidency. So if the obscene meetings were not once or twice, can we assume that this was what his soul wanted but his public persona won’t agree? What if he took a yard of thought to ask how history will chronicle this ‘secret’ deed? What if he understood he had a vow to fulfill to his wife or his Creator to obey? I am not acting as a judge but same goes for the former World bank Chief Paul Wolfowitz who had to resign after abusing his position to give huge financial benefits to his mistress. IMF CEO, Strauss-Khan, tipped to be next French President hits the news headlines few days ago by attempting to sexually assault a 32 year old hotel maid.  So it is an orgasmic moment that humbles warriors and even doesn’t spare the intelligent breed we admire. Men and women of prime character have tainted their history at the unrestrained urge to satisfy the longing of the opposite organ.

Beyond what a sexual urge could is much more the hands can do. I have pondered on why people have bottomless cravings for wealth – a spirit in candidates of hell. Rather than they take it through dint of hardwork, they wallow in greed taking the position of the crowd. We have lived in the midst of global financial crisis where people in utmost frenzy and lure of quarterly  bonuses  disrupt the world financial system. We also have rogues bankers in our midst who rather than bear a courage of morals,  seek every wrong opportunity to create an empire of vanity. Allen Stanford, Miliken, Ibru,  Madoff, Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and many more are people who sat in palaces of wealth but tumbled after being brought to public justice. Let me spare us of government officials because we will be left with iterations that overlabors my point.

A quick word is that most times we just want to do things on impulse, act as if never happened or that no one saw us? Sometimes we keep right principles in the public but our innermost cravings are different. At times we really want it crooked just to move on. In those lonely moments  let think through issues asking ourselves is it worth it? Before we commit that act of sin, or revel in short term pleasure that defines nothing, let’s ask ourselves  is it  worth the confidence the community, the great history to be penned or the body of work our Creator did for us.

Another Look at Globalization

There are 27 stars on the Brazilian flag and Brazilian workers with large sewing machine produce one for $30. When the Chinese people in their patchy workshop sewed the Brazilian flag, it had 23 stars and it now sells for $3. This shifting pattern as we know it is proven among us that from far spaces, people can seize opportunities that lie around us. Fela was all along a hero but while we enjoyed his rhythm in car stereos and local bars, JayZ and Will Smith saw a business opportunity to chronicle the dance of a legend.  So, we await the day a Lebanese guy will be here to teach us how to tap palm wine, weave our baskets or new stories about the tortoise and its wife.  Its globalization and how it comes with creative destruction.

Emerging powers are rising and it’s all about the power of the people. Large populations and ensuing social unrest have always a burden but with fact that 40% of the global growth in last 10 years have come from the BRIC (mostly populated countries) tells us a lot. There is massive upward scale of people to the middle class and it lies on country that is using its population strength to produce competitively. Years back many people said Chinese people were duplicating Western innovation for the mass markets but as they accepted to be copycats, it is now fine tuned and now shipped to the advanced economies.  The Chinese are the leading green technology country and it’s because that if they did not produce Facebook, Twitter, Google or Apple of this age, they should lead the next wave of global innovation.

Rather than sit in slush offices and give $40m to hedge fund manager in US to handle complex transaction and disrupt the whole financial market, there is an emerging strive in the East to push the millions in the middle set of the economy. This comes from lean production, frugal economics and distinct economic policies. The emerging powers are improving human development index with rural-urban migration and giving best sets of education for their people.

As Brazil has leaped over France and UK to be the fifth largest economy, the next threatened economy in advanced economy is America. America is yearly losing its share of the World GDP and people are postulating the end of its reign. But America has learnt how to reinvent itself to start afloat. The question is of, when it will lose its place is of time but we can never be too sure. Many were too sure in 1980s as Japan was leaping ahead. Wrong policies, asset bubble and weak government policies stagnated Japan for a decade and now with the massive earthquake and declining population, it looks the only way for Japan is to spiral down.

Two events of the Chilean miners and Osama Bin Laden mastered kill keep endearing me to the continued promise the US hold. Imagine four helicopters flew over the Pakistani airspace and the radar failed to detect it! What a nation that rewrites the rules of technology! But the future is of twists and a turn, that’s why we need to tamper this Chinese boom optimism and tell them to seek growth by expanding their middle class through domestic consumption. If the West retreats to itself and cut back its imports from Asia, then their growth might be counterproductive.

The only clear scenario might just the gradual elitist elevation of the America society.  With the factories that employs critical mass going to Asia, the puzzle will be where will the average American with low level education work?  Will everyone in US transit to that knowledge economy class? With the differential of technology thinning out among nations, how close will the Chinese and other developing countries be to advanced economies in a sophisticated future? Don’t forget that the world fastest computer, biggest casino, green industry and fastest train is in China, so they can only be closer.

US will keep growing but it clearly showing a society that might grapple with inequality with high-end innovation driven economy.  The Chinese and rest of developing countries might surge ahead with the middle class expanding and taking the jobs the Americans feels they have outgrown. Lest we forget, US has a public debt of $14trn and owes the Chinese $1trn. China also has a huge reserve of $3 trillion and it might jokingly wake up one day to spend $1trn to buy Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Google or buy the properties of Washington, DC valued at a $232 billion or America’s entire Department of Defense, with assets of $1.9 trillion. It is a future given to surprises but the debt of the West and Europe, resource struggle for Africa, bottom pyramid opportunities in developing world, imploding surplus of the East and how leaders will shape these themes might be our guide.

Forests: Nature At Your Service (Grandfather Story)

Stories my grandfather told me are countless but how he once proved the blood of warriors flowed in his veins, I can never forget. On a cloudy afternoon when his father, my great grandfather, took a journey to the realm of the dead, tens of lightning sparkled in the sky heralding a worthy son. My grandfather became the new village doctor; he inherited the beaded staff and the tons of herbs in the forests. He would then call up the benign spirit that breathes in the leaves to heal the sick.
On a sunny day as he walked among the shrubs to get leaves for ritual, he saw Chief Sekere and a light skinned man from the Northern tribe talking seriously. They stood in the forbidden forest of the village pointing fingers at its interspersed branches. He wanted to walk away but he summoned courage to ask what they wanted in such sacred jungle. They mocked him wondering how uncivilized he was with thick medicinal herbs he carried. Grandfather knew what Chief Sekere could do as he had trampled on all revered traditions and the gods in rare display have not struck him dead. Now, he is about to sell trees from the forbidden forest of the gods – the dense cover that housed trees and numerous nameless birds.
Grandfather walked back home quietly wondering how traditions were crumbling fast. As he lay on his bed, he recessed in deep thoughts. He stood up and found the beaded spear with jangling cowries. He was visibly angry like a thousand of spirits pushed him to kill for their sake. He took a quick dash to the forbidden forest wanting to thrust the metal into Chief Sekere loins. He was lost in deep incantation ready to preserve tradition and cause the gods to smile on him.
As he made across the river, people ran off the pathway wondering if he was mad or deeply involved in a ritual. It was the sight of his surging body and how he trampled on shrubs like a warrior that feared Chief Sekere who sighted him afar. Sekere and the buyer ran for their lives. As he got to the site where they were negotiating the price of sacred trees of the village, he heaved heavily with the mighty gush of wind hitting him.
I later asked him where the preserved forests were. I wanted to catch a glimpse. His sunken bloody eyes were heavy with tears. At evening, in a sagged frame, bending on a walking stick, he took me what his villagers had made the forbidden forest. It was no longer what it was. Few tall trees scattered around and he marveled how man had crushed the tents of the gods. Two men in white regalia were dancing in the lean forest. He wondered if their own gods listen and why did it not stop the raging storms that blew hundreds of village roofs last night.
I knew forests were the cover that protects the village when it shudders in cold. The dreaded animals were stripped of their habitat and the herbs lost their charm after the soil was eroded. Little are the pains of grandfather, but for I his grandchild, many are my worries about what will be left for the children to come. I will now do my best to plant more trees and preserve the trees left. I am the new servant of the gods that preserves the forests that were once forbidden for the saws.