An invitation to come and read No Straight Lines: making sense of our non-linear world as an open access participatory book.
It looks at how we can build better more sustainable societies, organisations and vibrant economies through innovative practice.
It argues we need to design and create for the needs of humanity not industrial systems. You can read the entire book (open access) by clicking on READ THE BROWSER BOOK link on the No Straight Lines webpage
There is an entire chapter devoted to mobile.
I explore mobile from the perspective of what it can do at an organisational and at a societal level.
From the Achuar tribe in the Amazon rainforest using mobile and GPS enable digital technologies to challenge the Peruvian government and the mining companies trying to exploit their habitat and way of life to children using iPhones at school for learning in new exploratory ways - I make the point that mobile plays an important role in the evolution of every aspect of our society.
So NSL looks at education from Africa and India to the western world, it looks at how bricks and mortor organisations can become platforms and become part of a global economy, we look at how people living on $2 a day could be doubling their daily income by working on their mobile phones – we look at the politcal consequences of rapidly shared knowledge and information, we look at data and the impact on how commerce per se will evolve enabled by mobile. And we celebrate organisations like Ushahidi that are showing us the way in how innovation really works. In Japan we look at ground breaking business models that are already nearly 10 years old and we wonder why the fashion industry is not fully up to speed, nor indeed the media industries either.
I also argue that if organisations are not able to really design with mobile they could be missing a significant opportunity.
Here is a sample of the introduction.
Gutenberg is a moblogger: economic, organisational and societal transformation through mobile communications
There is another aspect of our non-linear world which plays an important role in what comes next. We are inevitably moving towards a society where our mobile devices become the remote control for our daily lives. Any technology that allows us to better connect, communicate, share knowledge and information and get stuff done will be widely adopted. Some of the stories already presented suggest the changes to people’s lives big and small that mobile communications will usher in.
We are but at the beginning of our journey of transformation which will take some time, generations even, to play out. Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the world wide web, has a view that much has already been achieved to create a better world: ‘It has provided access to information on a scale never before imaginable, lowered the barriers to creative expression, challenged old business models and enabled new ones.’ He continues: ‘It has succeeded because we designed it to be both flexible and open. These features have allowed it to accommodate innovation without massive changes to its infrastructure.’
Gutenberg is a moblogger
When discussing or teaching disruption, I ask the question whether the church ever saw Gutenberg coming. The church was a powerful monopoly controlling all before it did so by ensuring that knowledge, the protein for innovation and creativity, was safely kept out of the hands of feudal man and woman. Power was knowledge, and knowledge could only ever be accessed by joining the church. Gutenberg, busy in his garret in Mainz, had no idea what he was unleashing upon the world, yet were Gutenberg to be alive today, he would be creating technology so that he could be taking pictures and shooting videos with his mobile; he would be blogging and vlogging via his mobile, paying for his car parking spaces via his mobile, getting his library books renewed via SMS, dating on Flirtomatic and getting his healthcare from the 3G Doctor. When technology becomes successful, it becomes ubiquitously invisible and so our mobile devices become our personalised remote controls for life.
The numbers of mobile devices in the world, currently some 5 billion, with 80% of the world’s population living within range of a mobile network, including the Masai and the Bedouin, is extraordinary. Never in the history of the human race have so many people been able to connect to each other – the scale is simply unprecedented. In developing economies, people are finding innovative ways to use mobile technology. Grameen's microfinance and village phone programmes in Bangladesh and elsewhere are known and respected around the world, but there are many less famous examples. During the Kenyan elections, Mobile Planet provided its subscribers with up-to-the-minute results by text message. And in his Presidential election campaign, Barack Obama did not miss the opportunity to mobilise his supporter network through mobile connectivity. Writing in the Observer, Cerf states: ‘As the cost of mobile technologies fall, the opportunities for such innovation will continue to grow. We're nearing the tipping point for mobile computing to deliver timely, geographically and socially relevant information.’ He goes on to comment on how researchers in Japan have proposed using data from vehicles' windscreen wipers and embedded GPS receivers to track the movement of weather systems through towns and cities with a precision never before possible. ‘It may seem academic’, he adds, ‘but understanding the way severe weather, such as a typhoon, moves through a city could save lives. Further exploration can shed light on demographic, intellectual and epidemiological phenomena, to name just a few areas.’