Kenyan Scribe Muses over Internet Mysteries, its Elusive and Exclusive Gold Mines

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By Bob Kihara

In Summary: The new found world of the Internet Raises More Questions than Answers. Largely unexplored and widely misunderstood, it remains a mystery to millions across the globe. Those who have exploited its offerings remain an exclusive club of the haves verses the have nots. While it has helped to connect the hitherto disconnected world, it has also helped to create social and economic distortions. The mythical Eldorado of the Internet keeps millions of people both in the developed and developing countries on a wild goose chase. Perhaps, the writer apines, it is about time to re-think and reconstruct the Internet as a real web of social and economic redemption to humanity than enhancing it as a technological behemoth of enigmatic proportions!

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the genius who invented the World Wide Web in 1989, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 for "services to the global development of the Internet”.

Nairobi, Kenya--It’s a huge new world out there. Part of a new system of one world, previously connected, but not as it has become over the last two decades by the Internet. And for all our mesmerization with the internet, and the ease with which it has changed our way of doing things, we are still exploring this new world and how we can live with and within it. The world of the Internet is still hugely unexplored territory. Still largely inaccessible  by  a great number of people mostly in the developing world. For many even in more developed countries, it is still the mythical Eldorado. There are a few who have struck the wieldiest goldmines. With it, the results of the mines; Amazon and Yahoo as well as Microsoft, IBM, and Apple have come along. There are other entrants including Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

But largely, this is a world where the elusive gold and the right mines are yet to be found by millions of prospectors across the globe. While the Amazons, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Apple may still be struggling to fit the bill as the Sun that will light up these world 24-hours a day, day and night taken into consideration, chances are they might just be the stars flickering on a dark night. And we are yet to find that magic wand, that idea that will capture the imagination of the whole world again, for its dynamics and the opportunity it will represent for a greater majority to benefit from its easy road to opportunity. This new idea, this next frontier may not be in the way the new kids on the block have sprung up, but it may be a next-generation manifestation of Google and Facebook combined or redeveloped, coming up maybe in a little less time than it took for these firms that struck early gold to come into place.


Facebook founder, chairman, and CEO, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg eating Ugali and Fish on a recent visit to Nairobi, Kenya last September.

So, for most of the globe, maybe it's time to rekindle hope by taking their minds into the future to feed the minds with a dose of idealism, myth, wild imagination and a little reality. For it could be the case, the best gold and the largest minds in this Eldorado may yet to be found and may not exactly be found in old frontiers created in the developed world. But who knows, might be created in the world where opportunity and better lives are most needed. And so, it might not be so far-fetched to think that the accompanying opportunity will come with it to those in this currently deprived, but most needy world. For sure, the most deprived and needy make the best of explorers. So this is the time for the explorers to do a more defined recce of the landscape. To find out what ticks the yearnings to this new frontier.  And to find out what it will, yes, could provide for the hundreds of millions seeking a cut of the action and its benefits. So as much as our excitement may fade and rise with the new found gold in Facebook, hundreds of millions are cutting their way through the deserts and forests, heading west looking for the new finds. And like the wild west of yore, not all areas are booming with gold finds, and not all the paths we are following may have the gold, but still we try to feed and create and try to ride the new networks and gossip and rumor mills of the latest finds. There are small towns springing up, and tales and reality of fool’s gold abound.

Africa's ‘Silicon Valley’, Nairobi, Kenya is one such hub where skills in prospecting for the elusive gold mines around and across the Web are being honed.

And like all places where minerals have been found, entertainment spots have followed, there are places of pleasure and leisure, illicit and legal; there are guest houses to take care of our evenings and our sleep. There is need for water, need for energy, need for food for the millions - for the basic needs of this new world, and then its leisure and pleasure and longer term investment and development. It’s not for nothing that it is called the web. But chances are, we are yet to see the best of it and its ingenuity. Chances that the paths that will work as always, are the untested ones, the most ingenious, the most creative, or those that fall back on a long abandoned 100-year-old idea.

Chances are that it’s time for the spider to ride out again, spinning a new kind of design for the web and bridges to the unknown New Frontier, maybe it’s time for re-evaluation of the forming of new, maybe new style networks that are the skeleton, the framework on which the vitality of the internet and those it services will ride. Maybe it is time more focus was put on the dynamics of the needs of the unconnected and how to make it easier for them to be connected. Maybe it is time for redefined clearing houses for the internet and it’s knowledge-based, not from the technology being developed, but from greater participation and trials in the needs of those it is meant to serve.

Operations at an Amazon warehouse in the USA

So, where will this new Spider, the best spinner emerge? Where is the Next Frontier. This Spider has no definite perspectives, maybe the best way out might just be through the development of the best networks for the unserved, the under connected, the unconnected. Maybe it’s time to discuss the new possibilities from the eye of the underdog with a nose on the future.

This new Eldorado is based on the old. There are places where we discuss the day's daily happenings or as they happen minute by minute through Twitter. There are local councils creeping up, all represented by the strength of their opportunity to acquire knowledge or make business, provide  services or cater for some need which they feel is crucial for existence in the world that we have always known.

It's an interconnected world being built, under construction constantly. It's a world where the 24 hour economy is not a notion, but a basic and going reality for business, for trade, for skills. It has been a challenge and an opportunity, calling for us to reflect more and align ourselves with the future we see. Maybe it’s a world in which we should be investing a lot more in dialogue, calling in the older brains as much as the younger one to decipher what’s cooking and what we can cook best out of it.

Googleplex, corporate headquarters complex of Google, Inc. and its parent company Alphabet Inc, in Mountain View, near San Jose, Santa Clara County, California, United States.

It’s a new world. Riding back on a huge interconnected web. There are hundreds of millions seeking a piece of the action . There are lots of market centers and villages, lots of towns, lots of regions, lots of states and provinces, and counties, lots of countries, lots of continents. Only this time, they are personified by some brand name or other. But it’s still one world trying to get its act together with its new fads, new desires and new demands, those in the villages are looking for their markets in the nearest town. And small businesses in the town are looking for the suppliers and consumers. As much as we wave the flag and get excited at Amazon and Kindle and Apple and Ipads, it might just be that these are the eateries, bars and cafes feeding the masses that have flocked to the new Eldorado.

It's the inter-connected world we are living in; each of us trying to create our own unique identities and seeking to have our own voices and our own perceptions heard and respected and our images and voices and messages that we hold dear appreciated and accepted. It's the inter-connected world we are building. We know we have heard there is gold to be mined somewhere along the way, we have heard fables and yarns of explorers who have made a killing along the way, some big, some small, some with names like Microsoft and Apple and IBM produce the best tools that we used to try and dig for the gold mine, and there are companies that have actually struck gold in this territory, this new frontier. Just like when companies like Wells Fargo and Pony Express came into the fray to open up the American Wild West. What we may be seeing now is one huge service sector, out to take care of our needs as we look for the elusive gold mines. Companies like Google and Apple have our voices and there are lots of good and con-artists along the route, and like the old world into which it has come upon, it is still being built; it’s under construction even as we get mesmerized by the new eateries on the block - Facebook and  - Twitter- for all our fascination are the eateries and entertainment centers; the highways and high-speed railways are under construction; its dynamics and rules are still being formulated, and even this could be in dispute. We have new continents for sure, but the jury is still out as to the world that people will feel is one. So Facebook has taken us into some wilderness where we are told there are a billion souls who’ve signed up for travel to this new foundland, but still the discussions are on, and we are not yet too sure about the best flight to take to the promised land.

Microsoft Campus at Redmond, Washington State, USA (photo by Glassdoor, Inc.)

The internet and its world of newly found adherents all too eager to brandish the latest passports of citizenship is growing in leaps and bounds on the back of innovation, but the feeling is that even as we rejoice; even as we wave our Facebook and Amazon and Google passports in triumph, we all know that all of us are looking for the new El Dorado, where gold has been discovered, and there are cut-throat competitions to get a slice of the dig. So are our construction teams doing well enough? Where are we heading? Are we reading the world correctly? And are we ready for the shift in dynamics? Are we creating sturdy, relevant and worthy networks or are we flowing along trying to recreate the wheel instead of being one of its pokes? At the end of it, we are all spiders, each trying to create its own web to catch its prey. But are we doing it well enough?

Bob Kihara is a veteran journalist and a communication specialist based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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