Share the

You Don’t Need An App For That

Why Give a Damn:

Ted speaker, Toby Shapshak, is guided by the passionately held belief that in Africa, necessity is the mother of innovation. Innovation, in its purest form, is applied to solving real problems because real problems exist.


The author of this post, Daniel Epstein, believes to his core in the potential of entrepreneurship to solve the greatest challenges of this century and he has dedicated his life accordingly.


The gold of today is mobile technology.  Tweet This Quote

Today, paying for a taxi ride using your mobile phone is easier in Nairobi than it is in New York, thanks to Kenya’s world-leading mobile-money system, M-PESA. $25 million per day or 40% of Kenya’s GDP moves through this mobile technology. This available SMS technology is used for currency exchange, getting medication, emailing, facebooking, even taking care of dairy cows. Unreasonable Institutes 2013 venture, Eneza Education, is using this same technology to provide access to education to Africa’s youth and even provide teachers and parents with progress reports. The potential reach of innovative technology in Africa is endless.

Bio:

Toby Shapshak, publisher and editor of Stuff Magazine, has been writing about innovation, telecommunications and the Internet – and the impact they have on people’s lives – for more than 15 years now. He’s even been called “the most high-profile technology journalist in the country” by GQ South Africa. He’s now working on a book about a passionately held belief: that in Africa, necessity is the mother of innovation.

Innovation happens ‘at the edge’ because in the middle everyone is too busy updating Facebook.  Tweet This Quote

TEDTalk

About the author

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). Issues covered range from from science to business to global...

TEDTalk has written 16 articles for UNREASONABLE.is

  • Leija2014

    Thank you for sharing this post and video clip! It’s amazing what we can do with a cell phone. I had no idea that Africa had this type of system where they can order their medications, pay their child’s school fees, or even buy groceries with just a simple phone. I can’t even buy groceries with my iPhone! I also thought it was interesting to learn that iCow gives people daily tips and important information on how to care for their cows since the dairy business is a $463 million business in Kenya. I really enjoyed this article and clip because I love to learn about the innovations that are taking place in our world!

  • natebbeard

    I love this because of the focus on reengineering existing technologies for new uses – something that tech and engineering innovators might not see as too sexy, but something that, I hope, people will find more meaning pursuing in the long run. Thinking about the mobile Square payment example (and I know I could probably look this up…), I wonder if there are certain financial policies and patents hindering reengineering of ‘dumb’ phones in America, or if it’s simply the fact that we have the capability to buy products for design/statues reasons rather than efficiency/effectiveness… probably a combination?

  • Tammy

    Thank you for sharing this. I find it interesting how technology is being used to solve real problems in Africa, while here in the US, it is often used as entertainment or to make life more convenient. I was also surprised to find out that these technological innovations in Africa can be accessed through a candy bar phone. That is truly innovative.

    In addition, the iCow app is so fascinating! Who knew that an app can contribute to people rising out of poverty. After learning that the dairy industry in Africa is a $416 million business, it makes sense that people would want to use this app to maintain their dairy.

    It is so interesting to learn about technological innovations taking place in third world countries.

  • Jeovany_Espino

    This short video really opened my eyes as to the progress and influence Africa has had on technology and the world. I feel that when we think of Africa we think of it as being poor, struggling to survive, corruption and just a hard place to live. However, some of them are true there seems to be a great deal of knowledge being gained and started there. When he showed the aerial map of electricity at night he pointed out that Africa was the least lit and thus was producing the most innovation because they needed to. I thought it was interesting to see how much that phone can do but also makes me think about how dependent they are on that phone.

  • CateRob

    This video made me think that, in America, we have the luxury of inventing frivolous stuff because of our high amount of discretionary income. However, there ARE real needs here. One out of five children go hungry each day in the U.S. and with the middle class disappearing, we have more working poor. Generally, we can “afford” to look over those areas, but perhaps we should not. It would behoove us to think that not all of our citizens are well off and that if we want to improve things in our own country, we could follow Africa’s lead.

  • Cory Zaeske

    It’s amazing to see the different types of apps and technology out there. While we as a contry think we are high and mighty with some of the “new” innovations we get, it has probably been done somewhere else and we are just renovating the idea. Some of the innovations Africa was doing as a country with the little amount of supplies they have is incredible. I think most people probably have no idea that Africa is this advanced as a country.

  • BartuchGR11

    Thank you for posting this blog. I found this blog post really interesting because I was amazed by all the technology Africa has that I would have never guessed they would have all that. I guess when you think of Africa the typical stereotype is poor and a hard place to live. I agree that some of the innovations Africa has are amazing. I really love how they have innovations that actually help solve real world problems.

  • Jen McKiernan

    Thank you for sharing this video. I never knew how technologically advanced Africa was. It is super cool to see all of the different ways people solve problems in Africa using phones. One thing I found very cool was that you can text in a code and it will tell you if your medicine is expired. That is such a simple idea yet we do not have anything like that in America. Do you think America will take on the use of this technology?

  • John Darrow

    I thought this video was interesting. The way that Toby enlightened the rapid technological evolution around the world speaks that maybe we aren’t as far along as had thought. I definitely had no idea mobile was huge in Africa and I am a 100% sure that I am not the only one. What makes that fact even better are the phones that they do it with and how they obviously don’t have nearly the upgrade capabilities that we do. That really amazed me. Thank you for this share, awesome watch.

  • Grant15

    I really enjoyed his commentary on the origin of innovation through necessity and how some of our greatest inventions in recent history have been in places where you would least expect. I believe this just goes to show how wrong we are in the US about innovation and new technologies. We believe we are the creators when really these have been around in various forms for a number of years.

  • Josh Pritchard

    Ya I agree with you on this. No one knows what Africa is doing right now. They probably have technology that we are still figuring out. There is so much out there right now and we don’t even know what most of it is. I really liked when they showed the view of the electricity being used and Africa had the least lit. It was pretty neat.

  • Jessica Walker

    I loved the part in the video where he showed the picture of the world, and said the parts that were lit up with electricity werent the ones who are innovators. They are the ones playing games on their phones and watching television. It was very eye opening because so often we think we are so high above everyone else and are so awesome for creating these cool new things. Little do we know, people in Africa really have it figured out. They are the real innocators, they are coming up with great inventions and yet not all glued to their technology the way America is. Do you think there are any other countries that are so dependent on their cell phones like the United States?

  • clemonsel02

    This part I found most interesting was thinking about how the people who are doing the most innovations in the world are the ones that have the least technology in the world. I loved how he explained how the world was lite up were the ones watching tv and playing on their phone not making a difference. I never knew that the “apps” that are on as we look at it basic phones are really making a difference in lives of these people in Africa, while here we are playing angry birds. What does this really say about our technology compartiatively? I think they win. What do you think?

  • MeierKM23

    This was very interesting, especially when he showed the map of the world being lit up, and said that the parts that were lit up with electricity weren’t even the ones who are innovators because there on there phones or just watching TV. After he said that, I had to agree, because that’s what you see when your walking by people, see them in public places or go to your friends houses, that’s just what we do nowadays. It is true but it also opened my eyes, because while we as Americans think we have it better and don’t think countries like Africa have “our kind” of technology, they really have it better than us, because they are innovators and creative with what they have to make things work. I think we need to take a lesson from this, not be so tied to our technology with ways it can hurt people, and appreciate the many things that it can help people with and keep advancing. Thanks for sharing this!! What is your take on this?

  • MeierKM23

    I agree with your comment on how cell phones can do amazing things. I, as I am sure many others as well, did not know either that Africa had such a better system of paying for the many things in life we have to pay for. We thought, as Americans, with our Androids and iPhones, that they make our lives easier and convenient when in Africa, it is twice as convenient. It opened my eyes to how innovative we think we are over here, which we are, but Africa and other third world countries have much more creative minds to think of things like these!! I also enjoy seeing the innovations that go on around this world because things like these open your eyes and appreciate that its advancing! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jack Delabar

    Thanks for the post, Daniel. I agree that the word “innovation” is a loosely used term here in the U.S. It is used to promote certain products while the raw meaning of the word is what the people in Africa are doing. The creativity factor over there is huge because of their limited resources while we Americans have most things we need for research readily available. What other advantages do you think other countries have on us?

  • Jack Delabar

    I agree Jess, we are so dependent on technology as a country. We need it to do virtually everything these days and it may come back to bite us in the ass in the future.

  • Long Bach

    The video is very fascinating. It shows me that maybe I have
    stayed in a well for too long. If someone has told me that Africa is more
    innovative than America, I would ask them if there is something wrong with
    their head. But after seeing your video, I must agree with your argument that
    scarcity is a good thing, it make your head work to solve the problem and come
    up with new innovation. And in America, in big metropolitan areas, scarcity is
    scarce. People are provided with the best that the world can offer. And with
    the globalization, you can get almost of anything around the world less than a
    week. You can go to amazon website to buy an electronic device in Tokyo, Japan;
    or you can order a Ferrari in Modena, Italy. The internet is one of the most
    important invention of human history, but it also has a side effect. It kills
    our needs for innovation for a certain extend. It does help people to create
    new things, but for the new generation, they have relied and spend too much
    time on the internet for things like Facebook, Twitter, etc. They are just
    waiting for someone else to solve their problem instead of trying to solve the
    problem themselves by simply Google or ask for it in the internet.

    After I see this video, I have a different view about Africa
    which things I only know are they are very good at running, they have a lot of
    diamond and gold; and it is very hot over there. But now, I also know that
    Africans are very innovative, and I thank them for their innovations which help
    the world. And for solving the innovation problem in America, it is hard to say
    how we can encourage new generation to be innovative where they can find almost anything to satisfy their needs. I hope that this is a solvable problem.

  • Cyrus

    I agree; innovation comes when there is a need, when it is necessary for something to be created to solve a problem. I wonder if Africa will continue to be
    innovative once its status becomes close a first world country (continent). It
    is silly to make it sound as if the rest of the world is not innovating or
    solving problems. Angry Birds is the result of many years of innovation and improvement. It just seems that Africa is making the most of the “basic” technology they have, which we in the states also do (in regard to cell phones); that’s where I
    see apps coming in.
    Anyway, there are people who innovate and people who improve. Clearly, we are not using our phones to their full potential, that’s for sure.

  • Kait Harman

    I had no idea Africa discovered this invention! Its crazy how much Africa has discovered. Most people just think negative things about Africa such as they live in poverty that is why they need to be educated about the good things that they do there. If they have all this awesome technology why is it hard for them to get energy?

  • Anika Rumery

    It’s truly amazing to think that the developing world is often using technology in more advanced ways than we use here in the developed world. Who ever thought that Westernized countries would be asking countries like Africa for help when innovating? This only shows that you don’t need to have massive amounts of GDP to be successful and creative with the resources you have. Well done to Kenya for thinking outside the box!

  • Collin Smith

    I think that it is relatable to Captain America, as cheesy as that sounds. If power is given to someone who has always had it, they will abuse it. If it is given to someone who has never had it, they will appreciate it more. We seem to forget the internet and other technology is a gift to help make our lives easier, not to escape it by using social media such as facebook. Great article.

  • Collin Smith

    I completely agree with you. Very interesting concepts. We as Americans do tend to try to think we have it better than every other country because we have advanced our technology to the point for fun and recreation. I am not saying it is only used for that, we have advanced it in the business field as well. I think we need to shift from using it completely as recreational fun to improving our living situations and knowledge.

  • Tyler Steinmetz

    This video surprised me but in a very good way! I thought, before reading this, that we were the leaders in innovation and that we were the most up-to-date country around the world, but this has proved that my point of view was wrong! It’s amazing for me to think that it is easier to pay for a taxi in Africa, using your cell phone, then it is to do the same thing in New York City. People around the United States abuse Facebook and the internet so much and they don’t understand how useless it really is. We abuse our power of technology and sit on our couch watching television and updating our status because we have the technology already. While we do this, countries like Africa are making advances in technology and innovating new ideas that we don’t even have! Thank you for sharing this video!

  • MeierKM23

    I agree to that, and thanks for your thoughts as well!

  • Tim O’Reilly

    The advancements in technology over the past decade are impressive, yet these advancements existed years ago in a much simpler form. This article reveals a fascinating perspective that tears apart ideas of the developing world. It depicts how the developed world can paint incomplete pictures when they, themselves, are behind the innovation curve. While we took years and millions (potentially billions) of dollars in developing alternative forms of payment (be it Square, Intiut GoPayment, or Paypal’s alternative), individuals in Africa seem to have been moving forward and finding solutions using the technology on hand.

    Innovation takes all forms: from creating the new, to improving upon the existing. Solving problems that have already “been solved” seems redundant. The developing world has so much potential, and innovation is ever-present in these societies. After visiting Nepal in 2013, I was amazed at the innovative ideas and nature of these folks. As markets continue to open in countries like Nepal, I hold high hope for this country in South Asia, as well as countries in developing parts of Africa (and the rest of the world) to continue their growth through entrepreneurship, innovation, and new investment from the developed world.

  • Brandon

    Wow this was interesting!!! Africa has been discovering things that we don’t talk about. we are lucky to have great technology in United States. There smartphone looks like a phone from ten years ago. There phone sends them great information that they need and don’t need an app for it which is awesome.

  • William Savoie

    Technology is the product of numerous different innovations, however, I completely agree that the use of technology can either impede or improve future innovations. Sure, there are apps being developed to play “Flappy Bird” and help you smash your phone into the sidewalk, but there are also apps being created to help you understand science, literature, society, the arts, and pretty much anything else you need help with. So yes, there IS an app for almost everything, but the important thing to remember is moderation.
    We live in a society where everyone seems to have the same amount of power. In about 20 seconds, you can find out anything you need to know. If a teacher asks a question in lecture, you could research it on your phone. But is it truly the same as reading the facts in a textbook and retaining the information until it is needed?
    My opinion is no, but other thoughts are completely welcome..

  • lepkowskjj29

    i totally agree with instead of using it completely as recreational fun and to use it to improve our daily living situations.

  • LevenhagAL14

    I agree with all of this! It really is inspiring to see technology being used for the better, rather than isolating people. I feel like people rely on technology way too much, and I’m a little hypocritical for saying this. Technology should be used to bring people together, to solve problems, not pull people away from each other because of games like you described. It’s way more valuable to listen in a lecture than finding the answer on your smart phone. I agree.

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    Revealing. When people think of Africa there is often a negative connotation. Before you are even addressed about the issue, some automatically focus on the bad. In this TED talk it shows how Africa has become more innovative than meets the eye. I never knew that there were so many positive creations that were changing lives in Africa especially in technology. M-PESA is a great invention from what I heard in the TED talk. I plan to look more into it to have a better understanding of the program. Also, I laughed when he said that Africa is the dark. It’s true, in America we watch television and have our gadgets. When do we have time to be innovative? I truly enjoyed this article, thank you!

  • Jeff Margolf

    Very fascinating take on innovation. He is certainly right about mobile being the future. I honestly can’t wait to see the new strides in innovation humans will make in my lifetime and look forward to passing down my knowledge to future generations to come. Go Africa.

  • WolfgramKA06

    Very interesting article. We get so caught up in our new technology that we don’t even know how to use it to benefit us. Something that frustrates me is seeing children playing on ipads now, instead of creatively building thinks, drawing, or learning to write. We need to step back and think about what our purpose is for technology and how we can use it to better ourselves. Do you have any other ideas that would help us to create a more intelligent and useful society that uses technology with more purpose? Do you think we’d be better off with less technology?

  • Jansscor16

    I agree with you as well. It is interesting because as Toby Shapshak was speaking and as I am writing this, I am on the computer with several browsers open, my phone is right next to me and the TV is on as well. If I walk down the hallway and look into my roommates rooms, they as well are watching TV or on their computer or phone. It seems our lives have been swallowed up by this technology. And we are not achieving or innovating anything while doing so. I agree that this needs to be not only a lesson but a practiced lesson.

  • pinsolera

    Thank you for posting this article. I found it very interesting and I learned a lot, especially hearing about what technology Africans use in their daily lives to help them with daily tasks. When he said about not much innovation coming out of the areas that are lit up, I agree and disagree. I can understand because where there are extremely lit up areas, are people just at their homes playing video games or running through the motions in life. But, there are most likely people in those areas that are trying to make better and more effective technology for the greater good. My opinion of course. What are some other technology besides the cell phone people in Africa use to better their lives?

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing this video. For innovation to happen, you have to have an environment where innovation has to happen. The video went on to say that places with certain luxuries already built into the infrastructure just abuse them by watching TV. Whereas in a large part of “the dark continent” these things aren’t there so they are forced to build with innovative minds. How would you suggest we bring that passion back to the US without destroying our infrastructure?

  • Drew

    Thanks for sharing this video. I thought it was hilarious as he mentioned the angry bird and video game reference. He talks about how Africa is on the move of innovation. The lit up map is very eye opening and unique! Us as Americans are suppose to be these smart innovators, when in reality its coming more apparent that we just sit back and benefit from others creating such technology. We are almost considered “Lazy” and thats disappointing. Aren’t we suppose to be the all mighty! Buy American…?? How can we when we are so wrapped up in social media taking up all our free time!

  • kolinjk29

    Very interesting, I totally agree with you on this. Interesting to see how africans use technology throughout their daily lives. Its great that technology can be used for the good rather than a lot of smart phone apps and useless features. Technology has changed our lifestyles so much people often forget what it was like without phones and computers. Thanks for sharing

  • Brittney Glende

    This video was very eye opening and interesting to me. Like you said when you solve real problems, you solve them for the rest of the world. It is crazy to actually hear how Africa is doing so well and that they have come up with things to help make our lives easier. I love hearing about how these countries are doing and the great things they are doing during their everyday life. Thank you for sharing this video/article.

  • Jcoppa

    This is interesting to me because I’ve now seen two different ways Africans are using what available resources they have to fix problems. First, the solar powered hearing aid, and now this. In America, it seems as though if we have a problem, we create something completely new, instead of improvising with what we already have. This is great for our economy, I guess, but it can also be destructive for the environment. Americans, as well as other first world citizens create problems just so they can create a new device! I admire African innovators, such as the man here who created a windmill with old cardboard and bicycle parts.

    I wonder if Americans will learn to use natural resources and to innovate, like what I have seen out of Africa. I know we are taking steps in that direction, but I wonder if American government can all coincide with this ideal and make it happen..

  • Taylor Schulz

    Interesting article! It is eye opening to hear about innovation going on in the rest of the world, for example, Africa. Like you said when you solve real problems, you solve them for the rest of the world. Innovation makes living easier for not only one country, but for others as well, and I think that is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing this video!

  • Steven Bichler

    It’s always interesting to me to listen to intelligent people talk about topics like this. I’m also very interested in the new “real” innovations as he says. It was amazing to see some of the simple, and effective innovations coming out of Africa. Hopefully they can keep coming out with effective technologies that can help our world as a whole. I loved when he said this isn’t a catchy catch phrase this is innovation.

  • Siden

    It’s a very interesting article to me. I did not really know what’s going on in Africa but after watching this video, I now know what are effective innovations in Africa. Innovation is so important because it helps people all around the world. This video
    reminds me about Cambodian people as well. In Cambodia, people can use SMS to do many different things; they can donate money or pay bills.

  • Leija2014

    Very thoughtful comment! It drives me crazy when I’m out to dinner with my friends, and everyone’s face is lit up by their cell phone screen. The face to face communication seems to becoming non-existent and I’m a bit afraid for what’s to come.

  • Morgan Dowd

    I think a big reason why this sort of innovation in mobile communication hasn’t expanded to the states is because of the attitude of the Western world. I believe we have a superiority complex. “We know better than Africa” or “We can do this way better than them!” are some beliefs that I think most Americans may feel, or at least most entrepreneurs. We under value them and treat them as children. America should not feel as though they are on this almighty pedestal. They are a people that are improving with rapid movement! As soon as the attitude changes, we really could all improve together.

  • Palecekb

    Wow this is great, this shows that even countries without the top technology are still striving and creating new inventions that help people across the globe. My question is, are you suggesting that the U.S. and other countries like it that indulge in items such as the iPhone or Samsung smart phones are actually wasting their money when they had phones that could do the same tasks years ago?

  • Ashley Nicole Rietbrock

    This is very interesting, thank you for sharing this with us. I thought it was really interesting when he showed the map of the world being lit up, and said that the part that were lit up with electricity weren’t even the ones who are innovators because there on there phones or just watching TV. I would agree with that because everything time you walk someone there are only people sitting on the side on there phone and you see it everywhere. I was impressed on the technology that Africa has and there are creative with what they have to make things work and help them live day to day. I think as American we need to look at this and not be so tied to our technology because there are people in the world surviving with out it. Thank you again for sharing this article I really opened up my eyes.

  • Sam Kuchenreuther

    Good article. It is true, that Americans use Facebook and play angry birds a lot, and that’s why we light up more on a map. However, the speaker made it seem like Africa was this great place for “innovation.” Which in some places, it might be. But we all know for a fact how poor some places in Africa can be. Those places where it’s dark on the map for example. So when he says Africa is the best place for innovation, I’m going to have to call a little BS on that. You can say I’m just the typical American who thinks America is the best place to live. But I know were not. All I know is I’d rather be in America than Africa.

  • Andersonjc16

    Loved the video, didn’t realize how Africa has played a part in innovation. Really eye opening and i hope this makes many people think and loved how he said that were there is electricity there is no innovation.

  • Amy Rink

    I agree, I found this video to be very inspiring! People think that with technology that where all the inventions come from, but he is saying the opposite and after watching this video he showed how that was true!

  • kristinwagner32

    Completely my life right now..computer on, TV on, phone next to me, roommate is doing the exact same thing. When you actually step back and look at how much our lives are taken over by technology its crazy. I also agree that this is a practiced lesson!

  • Keeli Gilbert

    This is fabulous! We really needed to hear this. I feel like we get so involved with our darn technology we forget about the things that we used to do without all of that crap.
    I really liked this article and video. Such an eye opener and I cannot wait to tell people about this. They won’t believe me and I can’t wait to show people this and have them be wowed as well.
    We need to get out of the world of technology and figure out what we can find out with the old technology that we used to have years ago. I do have a smartphone, but I don’t know why I couldn’t do the things I do on my phone with an older Nokia phone. I didn’t need this big hunk of plastic if I have all that I need in a little phone that has better battery life then I do.
    Thanks again for the eye opener. I can’t wait to share!

  • vitalecm03

    I completely agree!! We get so caught up in technology and “what’s new” in our world that we don’t even think what kind of technologies are like in other countries. We need to be more like the people in africa and innovate and be creative. We don’t need high technology to do that, we only need ourselves, our brain. We don’t need technology to make a difference or even to be known.

  • MeierKM23

    Yes I agree with you as well. We have had great innovators to bring technology to us and now I feel like we get so caught up in the recreational part of it, we aren’t advancing as much as they are in Africa. Yes, we are advancing and gadgets are getting to be more convenient but only for so many things. Yes!! We need ourselves and our brains and be creative! Thanks for your thoughts!

  • GrycowskAJ17

    I cannot believe that Kenya moves $25 million per day with this mobile money system. I know PayPal is very big now and that was the first comparison that came to mind, but $25 MILLION????

  • Alyssa Borgrud

    I AGREE! Well put! If we, as Americas, just put down our freaking phones and other forms of technology I think we would even shock ourselves as to what we could accomplish. This day and age we are so caught up in the material goods that we possess that we often forget about what our minds can do. When we put our God given talents to work, theres no saying what we can accomplish. And to think that this could all start if we just put down the phones and got up off the couch…

  • Bryonny

    This was very eye opening! There is so much more the world could be doing. Just imagine if all other countries were just as innovative in their own right. The world would be at peace and in harmony with the earth. Go Africa!

  • Collin Smith

    Absolutely. I was able to give up my twitter account and rarely use my facebook. I have found a huge boost in my time to research peer reviewed articles and further educate my own knowledge rather than getting sucked into my social media addictions. What are your thoughts?

  • MeierKM23

    Wow that’s awesome that you were able to do that!! Yeah I have been trying to rarely use those social media accounts, especially on my smart phone. Also, I have found a increase in getting schoolwork done without checking my phone every two minutes. I definitely agree with the addiction and sometimes wish I didn’t have the habit of checking it every few minutes. What’s going to change on there? Nothing. You can check it later once you get some work done right? Now that it’s almost final exam time, I am going to really focus on putting social media on hold. I feel if most of us Americans did this everyday, we would achieve more and become better innovators like Africa is.

  • Tammy Hartmann

    Daniel, thank you for sharing the TED video in your blog. I had no idea how far technology in Africa could go. It’s amazing to see the innovations in Africa with limited resources. I agree with what you wrote, “Innovation happen ‘at the edge’ because in the middle everyone is too busy updating Facebook.” Americans need to revisit what the word innovation really means. Do you think America would consider redesigning its app?

  • Collin Smith

    I would definitely agree with you. Something I try to do is leave my phone in my room while I go to class. It is shocking how much I try to find it in my pocket despite knowing I do not have it on me! Hopefully Americans realize that technology is only a bridge to building a better world and not an escape from the one we live in now.

  • Chris Williams

    Thank you for sharing this video. I never knew how technologically advanced Africa was. It is super cool to see all of the different ways people solve problems in Africa using phones. One thing I found very cool was that you can text in a code and it will tell you if your medicine is expired. That is such a simple idea yet we do not have anything like that in America. Do you think America will take on the use of this technology?

  • MeierKM23

    Good for you! Yeah it is shocking how we do that. The first thing I do before I leave a class, my room, or places is check to see where I put my phone. 1) to make sure I DO have it and 2) and of course to check it. Like I said, I am really trying to put a hold on so much of that! I think from what it sounds like, you are doing what you need to lower your social media time and doing a good job at it!! Keep it up!

  • Collin Smith

    Thank you, and I believe you will accomplish your goals as well! As a student I am sure you are continually checking your email via phone to check on classes. At least I do! Do you think that this is an appropriate use for technology or do you think it ropes us into a spiral of continually being available for work and never getting time away from work/school?

  • MeierKM23

    Thanks! Yes I do check it but usually try to on my laptop, but it is very convenient when I don’t have my laptop around me! I think it is an appropriate use for technology because that is what they were mainly made for after PDA’s. There are a lot of uses for our phones like these, but we as Americans are getting carried away with the games and apps we have downloaded and distract us in important meetings or classes. That right there is the problem. We are getting stuck into these fads of games and sometimes don’t get the stuff we need to get done. Although some of these games are fun, some people play too much. Yes, I do have games and apps on my phone, but have tried not to get caught up in it too much. What do you think?

  • jack lomax

    We have the right technology, we just have the wrong mindset on what to do with it. We have the technology and resources to advance medicine much further then we are at currently. We have the technology to advance civilization as a whole. Instead we have companies using the innovators to spend all these resources on recreational purposes. New apps. New phone model (the old one works fine) new everything. We need to focus on whats important. I don’t get how we have jumped so far forward in gaming & phone apps/abilities, yet it seems we are moving at a snail pace for a cure for cancer. We need to get our priorities straight. It would require the biggest change in attitude for corporations etc to do this, but IF they did. IF they decided that yes, we need to get our priorities straight before we invent the next bloody iPhone, my god! The possibilities though! Goodbye Cancer, Au revoir Alzheimer’s. Poverty? You’re gone!

    ..but I mean..i guess the iPhone 6 is a pretty big deal :|

  • Katie Ackerman

    Yikes, this is my generations life! Completely consumed by technology. We abuse our technology so much that we don’t realize how valuable it is.

  • Caitlin Snyder

    After reading this post and many of these comments, I’m inspired to give up my Twitter and Facebook. I think the recreational use of social media and the internet is out of control, as people have separation anxiety from their devices after 5 minutes of not touching their phones. I’m sure millions of Americans could better contribute to our society by just putting down their phone for a few minutes. With than being said, it is much easier said than done! Thank you for this post!

  • Caitlin Snyder

    It is very impressive that you were able to give up those accounts. I wish I could do the same, and I am inspired to slow down my usage on social media. It’s a shame that so many people are totally hooked on their Twitter and not involved in real life situations!

  • Caitlin Snyder

    And it all starts with ourselves. I find it hard to go a day without my phone, and I wish that wasn’t the case. We as individuals need to learn to not be so dependent on our phones and TV’s, and if we do this we can inspire others to do the same as well.

  • Caitlin Snyder

    I currently have two computer screens opened and I’m on my phone. It really is crazy how deep we’ve all fallen into the trap. It’s a real shame that we can’t go one day without our phones or watching TV.

  • GraceFelion

    I had no idea how advanced phones that are deemed “dumb” are actually being used in so many different ways. I never would have thought that this was possible. I don’t really know why I wouldn’t think it possible, I suppose because culture constantly tells us we need the best new technology to do anything worth doing. It’s important to think outside the box and to use what you already have to do more than you could before. Innovation isn’t just new technology or new items, it’s taking something you already have and making it more useful.

  • Collin Smith

    I would completely agree with you. I remember telling myself that I would only play one game of flappy bird or angry bird (why are they always birds?) and it would turn into a 2 a.m. bed time. Definitely affects us negatively.

  • Collin Smith

    Not too sound too crazy or ‘nerdy’ but I was a very serious gamer for a long time. I remember being one of the ‘toughest, baddest, strongest’ players in the game. It hit me one day that none of it mattered, and that no matter how much money I made in the game, it still wouldn’t pay for actual food and rent. I see a lot of people get too caught up in drama and issues that don’t even apply to them based on silly things like social media. Don’t you?

  • MeierKM23

    Definitely does for me too! I know always the birds. I am noticing and have noticed how much it can interrupt me with school and being productive, but sounds like we are both trying to limit it, which is good!

  • Timothy O’Reilly

    The advancements in technology over the past decade are impressive, yet these advancements existed years ago in a much simpler form. This article reveals a fascinating perspective that tears apart ideas of the developing world. It depicts how the developed world can paint incomplete pictures when they, themselves, are behind the innovation curve. While we took years and millions (potentially billions) of dollars in developing alternative forms of payment (be it Square, Intiut GoPayment, or Paypal’s alternative), individuals in Africa seem to have been moving forward and finding solutions using the technology on hand.

    Innovation takes all forms: from creating the new, to improving upon the existing. Solving problems that have already “been solved” seems redundant. The developing world has so much potential, and innovation is ever-present in these societies. After visiting Nepal in 2013, I was amazed at the innovative ideas and nature of these folks. As markets continue to open in countries like Nepal, I hold high hope for this country in South Asia, as well as countries in developing parts of Africa (and the rest of the world) to continue their growth through entrepreneurship, innovation, and new investment from the developed world.

  • LevenhagAL14

    I so agree with you, I recently deleted a bunch of my social media outlets and I feel so refreshed. It’s ridiculous how much social media controls us when you think of the original way these mediums were created. Nothing frustrates me more than just trying to communicate with someone and they’re sitting on their phone. These tools were created to help us communicate and network, not distract us from the more important issues. and yes, you’re right when you say that it’s much easier said than done!

  • LevenhagAL14

    You’re spot on with all of this! It’s all about prioritizing. and I sound like a huge hypocrite, because I spend way too much time on social media as it is. Just like other comments have said, millions of people would be more productive if only we prioritized differently. If time and resources were put towards bettering the quality of life rather than developing tools to distract from the issues, I think society would be a lot different.

  • Janna Bartels

    I agree, the map part of the video was one of my favorite parts. It definitely made me thinking that he was right! We’re wasting our time using electricity when we could be innovating more ways to use it.

  • MeierKM23

    Yes! A very good way of putting it!

  • kolinjk29

    I completely agree with you. Very interesting concepts. We as Americans do tend to try to think we have it better than every other country because we have advanced our technology to the point for fun and recreation. This is not always the case for other countries though.

  • Lilla McMillan

    It’s easy to sit at home on your couch and scroll through your facebook feed until you see something with a catchy enough title to make you click on it. From “liking” pages or subscribing to newsletters that promote environmental activism or third wave feminism, we allow ourselves to subscribe to the lie that we are making a difference and really doing something about the world’s most pressing issues. We can dump buckets of ice on our heads all day, but when it comes down to it we’re really not making the types of steps that promote change. We need to log off, read more, listen more, get inspired, and figure out the proper ways to really create change. Instead of settling into comfortable and lazy activism.