In the physical and cyberspatial (sorry) nerdville that is Silicon Valley, PowerPoint decks are as plentiful and free flying as fake boobs at a Hollywood casting call.
But there's one that gets more notice than any of the others, and it's by Mary Meeker, a former Internet analyst turned venture capitalist. Each year, she delivers a presentation at the Web 2.0 conference with lots of charts and graphs and stats about the growth of the Internet. It's mostly only interesting if you're in the business, but this year there's a brilliant little nugget that everyone should see.
According to Meeker, a "Mega-trend of the 21st century" is the "Empowerment of People Via Connected Mobile Devices." According to research she cites, 85% of the world's population is covered by commerical wireless signals - that's more than is reached by the electrical grid (80%.) And smartphone usage is also growing at exponential rates, which means that online media sharing is too. Put simply, the ability to share media with each other and media outlets around the world has never been easier, and it's going to get even more so in years to come as mobile devices and wireless coverage continue to improve.
There are tons of ramifications, not all of them positive, but one that is positive is the way it's becoming "hard to hide. The truth is often just a photo/click-send away."
So maybe that's not so good if you're a cheating wife, but think of the implications for enforcing human rights, uncovering corruption, keeping public spaces safe and more. The question Meeker poses is, "is the world on the cusp of being safer than ever?"
It's a good one to ponder. For all the things we'll lose - a certain amount of privacy, the ability to get lost for a while, total anonymity - there are a lot of things we'll gain too. I'm on the optimistic side, as ever. I can't wait to see how things play out.
(And yes, the headline is a Lord of the Rings reference. One of my favorite scenes.)