Once upon a time, youthful fame came with military conquest. Indeed, history is replete with the now familiar names of Alexander, Augustus Caesar, and Napoleon, among many others. The world, however, has changed. New names have taken the field and military conquest has, by and large, been replaced with technological innovation. Today’s great young minds are considered great not because of their mastery of the sword but because of their ability to cater to the whims of a global audience, because of their ability to shape culture. Thus, in order to be great by today’s standards, one’s campaign can’t be limited to conquering the Mediterranean. That’s too World War II-ish. Today, one needs to conquer the world.
For purposes of this article, I’d like to briefly describe the ‘inventions’ of two young men who, by and large, have created and shaped their respective global spheres of influence.
The first is the rather obscure 'moot', also known in the real world as Christopher Poole. In 2009, at the age of 21, 'moot' was Time Magazine's "most influential person of the world" - not because he deserved it but because the online community which he founded (4chan.org) decided that it’d be fun if Time’s voting system was hacked. The 4chan community is the complete opposite of today’s social networks. Anonymity here is a premise. Unhampered and unfiltered free speech is the norm. There is no exception. Since 2003, this site has become home to porn, internet memes (see LOLcats and Rick-rollin YouTube videos), and everything else under the sun. Never mind the fact that it seems to be a throwback to the days where the internet was governed by usernames rather than by real world identities; or the fact that, since the site is a virtual free-for-all that’s designed to be unmoderated, it doesn’t make any money. In the vast universe of the interwebs, 4chan is still a definitive institution where anonymity reigns supreme. All this created by a teenager who’s now just about to enter College.
The second is Mark Zuckerberg who, in following the footsteps of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, has created his own technological marvel which seems to be on a collision course with unshakeable Google. With true online identities and activities at stake, privacy in Facebook seems to be the governing norm. Despite this relatively limiting design issue, the social network now has 500 million users and still doesn’t seem satisfied with it’s current share of the internet pie. Just a few hours ago, it struck a blow against popular location-based start-ups Gowalla and Foursquare by providing its own “collaborating” location features. The move is striking and intimates this private company’s policy of not being content with being the definitive social media juggernaut. Not bad for a company that started in a college dormitory in 2004.
Can the Philippines have it’s own ‘moot’? It’s own Zuckerberg? I like to think so. The world is constantly changing. We might have lacked our share of military conquistadors... but maybe, with the right ICT plan for the country, we can churn out more tech-oriented Manny Pacquaios: Juan de la Cruzes who are driven, capable, and technologically-armed with ideas that are simply aimed at conquering the world.