Reminder: You Can Learn Anything on the Internet

When developing countries get their hands on the profound power of having the Internet in their pocket, it will not transform how they work, play, and learn — it will revolutionize it.

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I can’t tell you how many times I have used this phrase. A little over five years, ago my family and I embarked on a new adventure. We moved from our suburban house in San Jose about 30 minutes south into a more country setting. Thus began my life as a hobby farmer.

I did not grow up anywhere close to a farm or farming lifestyles but once we got settled in, we thought it would be fun to get some chickens and goats. I had no idea how to raise chickens and goats, so naturally, I turned to the Internet. Time after time the Internet did not let me down. I was shocked at how much educational value the Internet delivered when I needed it. It was at this moment that the power of the Internet hit me.

It is an understatement to say that when I moved to the country and embarked on hobby farming that I was out of my element. But nearly everything I needed to learn, I learned from the Internet. I’ve learned how to manage and keep bees, assist my goats in giving birth, how to milk goats, how to better manage my vegetables, and more. It is safe to assume that I would not have embarked on half of the things I have had it not been for the vast knowledge found on the Interent.

Some Things Need to Be Seen

As interesting as the Internet at large is from an educational perspective, for some things to be learned, they need to be seen. This is where YouTube comes in. Here again I have countless stories of where YouTube as been a valuable source of knowledge.

One of my neighbors learned how to roof her entire house by watching YouTube videos. The same neighbor also replumbed her entire house from watching YouTube videos. My brother-in-law learned how to shear his sheep from YouTube. I’ve used YouTube for countless instructional videos for new techniques and styles of playing guitar. Just recently, I took an entire series on how to play bluegrass guitar — all from YouTube. YouTube was invaluable in helping me learn how to convert honeycomb into beeswax. I have many more examples.

It really is fascinating when you think about it. And how the Internet has enabled the do-it-yourself movement has profound impacts on not only our future. The Internet as a source of education has the power to enable generations of people in ways like never before. Interestingly, it will be mobile devices that empower these future generations.

One Out of Seven

Today, approximately one out of seven people on the planet own a smartphone. That comes out to just over a billion smartphones in use in the world. You may think one out of seven sounds like a lot but in the big picture, we still have a long way to go.

Bringing a computational device in the form of a smartphone to every person on the planet is a potential reality and the promise of the future. But even more profound and perhaps even more important to the future of humanity is these devices’ connections to the Internet. I would argue that the Internet is the most valuable feature of any smartphone. Bringing the Internet to every person, by way of a smartphone, will drive it to be the primary computational device for more people than any other piece of hardware. For the masses in the developing world, a smartphone is not just a pocket computer, it may be their only computer.

Over the last decade, the Internet has already transformed the developed world in ways never imagined. It has transformed how we communicate, how we learn, how we play, how we work, and how we are entertained. All these things and more will continue to undergo radical transformation. But most of the innovations we can point to are all coming from first world perspectives and solving first world problems. Often, innovation from a first world perspective is generally more about convenience. From a third world perspective, innovation will play a key role in survival.

When developing countries get their hands on the profound power of having the Internet in their pocket, it will not transform how they work, play, and learn — it will revolutionize it.

You truly can learn anything on the Internet. When you couple that profound reality with the vast speed of global smartphone and tablet adoption, it becomes easy to see how future generations will be empowered in ways like never before.

Bajarin is a principal at Creative Strategies Inc., a technology-industry-analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to the Big Picture opinion column that appears here every week