So… I’m going to play
today and say things about Internet usage that might be painfully true. But I
will try to supplement this with some visual representation of data 1. I
find it very powerful to visualize some of the statistics which I had taken for
granted about Internet usage and what that means for startups, policy makers
History of Information or Books
After the failure of his early entrepreneurial adventures, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. This was somewhere close to the year 1450. Since then the growth of humankind has exploded. Ideas could now be communicated faster than ever before. People who were (a) able to read (b) allowed to read (c) had access to read were effectively the powerful. 2
As you would predict, given that invention of Gutenberg’s press happened in Germany the publishing of books happened to the highest around central Europe even in the first half of 1500s
Even as late as the 17th century the spread and active publishing of new book titles was limited to central Europe and a handful of colonies in South America and Japan.
Enter Uncle Sam
Around the late 18th century, Cue Dramatic Grunge Guitar Solo_ after the
entry of USA into the scene somehow the spread of the number of new titles
seemed to increase. I’m not sure if this was a coincidence or not but
You, Ben Franklin!.
In the new age, the Internet is the agency of information. This is what makes humans look super to an alien who’s monitoring us (like, right now!) Apart from being the medium of information of the present and the future, it’s also an implicit analog for technology in general. Adoption of Internet is strongly correlateable to adoption of technology en masse.
So let’s focus on Internet now.
Internet Usage in USA
If we consider a few tens of millions as a critical mass when the scales start to tip in the favor of labeling a technology as “powerful” then the Internet started to become so by mid 90’s.
The Virus of the 1999-2000
At least, that’s how most well-meaning parents of teenagers who spent all their nights on the Internet viewed it. Around the year 2000, the spread of Internet was spreading
But because of the decentralized nature of information spread with the Internet this gave any country willing to adopt it see dizzying rates of growth, therefore, impact.
The Great Wall
China was already making ground fast. It was catching up with the rest of the western world. This was posing a serious challenge to the global impact it’s economy could have.
By the year 2007 China was already in the same bracket of Internet consumption as the US. Due to the withdrawal of Google, Facebook and other powerful players China still seemed like it was behind its own NAT/Firewall.
Enter The Ancient Subcontinent
Cue Sitar Music and smell of fresh Garam Masala India! What Happened? Mobile Revolution is what happened there. An absolute explosion in the number of mobile devices and fast adoption of technology.
Hopefully this pic incites sufficient optimism about the applications of the Internet. 3
Context About the Rate of Growth
To put the rate of growth of Internet consumption into perspective, here are a few important countries in this context.
To put this into perspective in terms of the share of the population that “gone IP” (ugh..isn’t it a stupid phrase!):
“No Country for Old Men”
4 India is young democracy and has the potential to learn from the errors and mistakes of the mature ones.
Younger By The Year
India is a country full of youth and it’s getting younger by the year!
Dependency Ratio is the ratio of the sum of non-working-age populations (15
yrs < non-working-age or non-working-age > 64yrs ) to the working-age population
(15 yrs <= work-age <= 64). Most of the working force of India is its
youth. This ratio has come down from over
80% in mid 1960s to
about 50% in
2017. Perhaps, this implies that India’s hardest work rate and, therefore, the
fruits of it are yet to come.
India presents one of the biggest opportunities to set a new precedent in technology’s impact. If Internet can be an analog for technology in this era then India tops the charts as the preferred destination of promise.
Attention Policy Makers!
India presents one of the biggest opportunities to set a new precedent in technology’s impact. Let’s not muddle this with politicking and defecating on its potential.
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