The Revolution Will Be Not Be Televised. It Will Be Streamed. Social Business and the One Pad Per Person.

Last month I tried to trigger a conversation where I pointed at the conceptual conflict / confusion / confluence of Social Business vs Social Business. The concept of Social Business has arisen from two different contexts. One relatively mature – when taking into consideration its “empirical legacy” – a concept formed by the founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus – the “father of Microcredit”. And one of definitely more recent date, emerging lately from the “meta-conversation” related to Social Media. I refer back to that article to point out to the full reasoning, and the description of these terms – where I call for a prospective conceptual confluence for the betterment of all.

What surprises me, though, is that no one responded to the issues dealt with there. This crucial conversation just got silenced out. I hope to trigger it by this posting. Getting far more applied and practical.

Muhammad Yunus and Anders Abrahamsson in Stockholm, June 17, 2011.

Photo: Johan Lange

Since last time – meeting Prof Yunus IRL

Little did I know last month in the writing of that article, that the coming month I would have the opportunity to meet him in first person – truly a dream come true. Last year, I was a part of crowd translating his latest book “Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs” (“Socialt företagande – Den nya typen av kapitalism som tjänar mänsklighetens mest trängande behov”). I have followed the “phenomenon” of micro credit for over twenty years, and more closely the development of more recent decades of the full Grameen group of businesses spanning over getting mobile phones and solar energy to the villages of Bangladesh, habitat, yoghurt for malnourished kids, cheap shoes, and clean water solutions to mention a few of the now 20+ subsidiaries and joint ventures in the Grameen Name. So it was as much natural as it was an honour to contribute to spread his idea on ‘social business’ by taking part of the crowdsourcing to get the book out in Swedish. The Swedish translation was out in November last year, but back then at the original Swedish translation book release, Yunus did not have the time to be in-the-flesh here in Sweden. That opportunity arose quite quickly just recently, with just some week in advance now in June, 2011. With very short notice, Yunus toured the Swedish International Development Agency for a breakfast seminar, passing by journalists interviewing, a youth-for-sustainability roundtable, an international conference on small business, a hearing and panel at the ICT Institution at KTH in Kista (Royal Institute of Technology) and a lunch cruise in the Swedish archipelago, arranged by the book company Bookhouse Publishing. I attended IRL at the Sida breakfast seminar and the “VIP cruise”, where I had a plenary question put in the morning seminar (captured by the live stream linked above), and a lunch table conversation at the cruise. And getting some books signed by the Rock Star himself, of course :). I will cover the result of those specific conversations in my own blog in time, since Yunus is the singlemost important inspirational source for my work on Sustainopreneurship (which lead to the write-up of the Wikipedia article on the concept). I had a profound Insight Breakthrough during the breakfast seminar, for sure! More on that later :).

Global Digital Participation via Social Business – From OLPC to OPPP?

But what really triggered my mind altogether for writing this article, was the panel at KTH, which I followed from the remote at home. You can follow the full panel through an iPhone-powered Bambuser s
, archived via my fellow co-translator (and also crowd-funder) of Yunus’ book, Johan Lange. They are discussing in line of the themes relating much to my series of postings here on SMC – the potential of global digital participation, where in its extension it would revolutionize education/learning, health and the lives and prospering of micro businesses in the developing economies to mention a few areas. The social web at its best in the work of transforming our world! What really was putting an extra level of Aura to the event at KTH, was that the “Father of Mobile Telephony”, Östen Mäkitalo, professor at the very same institution, had passed away the same week, just two days before, on June 16. And here he was, another “Father” – of microcredit, empowering the poor – talking about late-coming incarnations of mobile technology, in the hands of the same poor people.

Yunus describes our gadgetery spreading, our smart phones as “Alladin Lamps”, where the Genie just get to us what we desire, something coming on even more strong with tablets. He drops one applied example in the context of reproductive health, where the ultrasonic pregnancy tests can be made with a mobile tablet solution on the cheap, and then sent from the remote to one distant examiner. Telemedicine. And also, with the contemporary technological development – if some in the Western world makes a gadget with a $2000 price tag, the Chinese is there to clone, strip it down and copy it at $20 :).

I say – why not? What happens if we combine these powers with the social, cause-driven, business, with its non-loss, non-dividend policy? Just being there to put a pad in every person’s hand as a mission in itself?

I started a Facebook thread as a transparent notepad, in parallell with the streaming of the KTH panel – where I outed an idea of an acronym I’ve carried around lately – to envision something “beyond” Negroponte’s OLPC project to encapsule this envisioned, and enlarged pathway of increased social web participation. Is it time to get the One Laptop Per Child project moving away from its educational context and
getting that vision to the everydayness, everywhere, omnipresent? Apple have paved the way with a new interfaced experience and simplicity to the mobile social web with its iPad, and currently the Android powered clones are flourishing everywhere. Something truly significant has happened on the way from the early Windows-powered laptop-without-a-keyboard Tablets, to the modern, contemporary, low barrier-of-entry Pads, literally getting two-, forty- and eighty-year olds
around the same pinchable touch-screen. So – let the Pad term go generic!

The Grameen Village Phone project started with “One Phone Lady Per Village”. After some years, it was “One Mobile Per Household”. And now it moves clearly towards “One Mobile Per Person”.

Let the Pad go the same way. What would happen if we had #OPPP – One Pad Per Person?

Let’s ask that question to catalyze a prospective forming of a team of the best brains coming from e. g. HTC, LG, Samsung, Acer, Asus and/or whoever who hear the calling, in forming a Joint Venture, institutionalized as a Social Business. Maybe calling it Grameen Pad, with the aim to get a seven and/or ten inch window to the World for 25 dollars a piece, dropping the profit motive as the primary drive, in order to get the world transformed at the seismic levels of positive change.

Then we can take the words from the proto-rapper, Spoken Word Poet Gil Scott-Heron to the next level.

The Revolution, then, Will Not Be Televised. It will truly be Live, Real-time and Streamed!

From a Pad very near you, wherever you are, wherever you go.

Are you in?

Photo credit: Johan Lange []