Mar 12, 2013

World Lens

The internet in its most recent form hasn't been around long enough to unseat the typical ways we do things. People still pay bills through the mail, print photos to show relatives, and go to the library for books, which helps explain why many are slow or reluctant in adopting to a digital equivalent. This uneven conversion rate makes it tough for those invested in bringing more people online-- especially since many of the best benefits of being online only work if everyone is online. Skype, for instance, isn't as meaningful if you can only connect with a couple people.

That's why I enjoy stumbling across examples of problem solving that quickly sum up why the web can be such a powerful tool:

These types of applications are difficult to imagine without a developed infrastructure. To accomplish this feat the app developer needed things like visual letter recognition,  motion tracking, translation databases, and most importantly a fast connection speed. We developed each of these technologies for other purposes, but on top of them someone found a new way to solve an old problem.

It can be tough to see all the benefits affordable high speed internet offers when only part of a population is online, but when there's a market for it innovation is close behind. It's for these kinds of reasons we have to look at investing in a fiber network like we do the space program: some of the best returns on our investments come in the form of unexpected by products from our initial intent.

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