enhancing economic growth through having people use technology that is mostly derived from, or related to, the internet.
I hope this article will help you, if you are a young African, to become a more pro-active and progressive user of the internet.
In other words, I want you to finish reading this article and decide that you would drastically reduce the amount of time that you spend on Facebook idolizing Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Also that you would curb the amount of time you spend playing games on your phone, or creating and forwarding unconfirmed information on Whatsapp.
Instead, I need you to think seriously about HOW you can use your devices (your smart phones, your tablets and your laptops) as vehicles that move you faster towards achieving your goals in life.
As a matter of fact, for those of you who know, in your hearts, that you have not set any real goals yet; using your devices properly could actually help you to discover what your goals should be, and continuously help you to refine those goals.
So the natural question that I would expect from you now is for you to ask me, "How?"
Let Us Begin
"How can I use my smartphone or my laptop to reach my goals, or to set goals for myself?"
Information Is Power:
Answering questions like this one is exactly why Digital Africa was created. So stay with us (follow this blog) as I attempt the answer:
Enhance!It was actually my friend and favorite blogger, Joy Isa, that asked me to write this article to "change the perceptions of Nigerian youth about the value of digital networking", as she wrote, in a Hangouts' message.
She confessed that I had successfully changed her mind about the Web, and that I had convinced her that there was some value in networking online.
I had actually gotten her to join Google+, and she has been trying since then to be more active on that platform.
She started her blog, she joined a few G+ communities for bloggers and writers, and she has even overcome some of her online shyness by joining in a few conversations with strangers on the g+ platform - Of which, most of them connect from many different parts of the world.
But, clearly, with this question, she is still not sure of the value in all of this.
So my post here will try to re-address my claims again. But this time I want everyone of you to pay attention.
The Effect Of The NetworkIn my opinion, the greatest value that the internet brought to us is the ability to communicate with anybody in the world, anywhere in the world, and at anytime of the day.
Seriously, think about it for a few minutes.
I suspect that your first reaction might be to think that the telephone did this quite well before the internet came, right?
Yes indeed it did. However, the internet adds a few things to the communication mix that the telephone never could:
I always think about Rome. Both Ancient and modern.
I always wonder what the children of those times and places wondered about.
Anyway, by communicating with different souls around the world through text, I have seen that gap closed tremendously. I can now have a conversation with a peer in Amsterdam or Gisenyi. And I don't need to already have their phone number to do so. Think about that as well....
1) The ability to exchange ideas with people from distant lands that you never heard of before, but are attracted to the same topics that you are. Tribes built around Interests or Ideas - not Race or Language.
By the way, I haven't even mentioned the power of Skype or Google Hangouts yet.
2) The ability to instantly discover information from heterogeneous sources. By using search engines you can find various sources of the same information from all over the world. (example, when I was studying at the University Of Lagos, doing a class assignment to write essays on the Agenda Setting Theory of mass communication, I basically consumed and wrote from material that I found through Google; which were mostly student notes posted online by students from Stanford and other American universities.)
3) The ability to instantly consume curated information that is often contextual. Go to the Google Plus Semantic Web community to find some of the most timely information on the evolving Semantic Web, or to the one about Semantic Search Marketing specifically.
I found my passion for the Semantic Web because I discovered the Semantic Web. I discovered the Semantic Web through my network on Google+: Teodora Petkova, Kingsley Idehen and David Amerland. I found these and other awesome people because I opted to spend time engaging with strangers on the social platform.
I have also extended my network well beyond SEO and the Semantic Web. I have also grown a large network of "friends" in the Renewable Energy world. We come together to share the latest information about Solar Energy, Electric Vehicles and smart energy grids.
My being passionate about those topics now makes me perhaps more easily teachable on the knowledge that pertains to those fields, hence more likely than the average man, to find a career in any of them.
All you need is to think of a problem today, and you can instantly find a solution to it! Well, at least a tentative solution.
Chances are, somebody somewhere else in the world had already thought of solving that problem, and has also shared how they solved it in a blog - or through a social media post that can be discovered through a Google search.
But unfortunately, many of us are seriously underrating the gravity of these things. And that is why we do not really take advantage of them the way we should.
My Networks My JourneyWhen I began my current journey, I had this strong desire to "get to the future" before most people around the world did. The plan was to quickly plant my feet firmly within a future industry that had a massive potential globally, but was not yet competitive in Nigeria.
I had been introduced to digital print marketing by my friend, and I quickly saw that this printing press was capable of creating an entirely new kind of print consumers and a new market.
I wrapped my soul with zeal and flung myself at this opportunity, because I knew that if things did not work out there, digital printing was not far from digital marketing (which I had already started flirting with at the time).
So after several years of very sluggish growth in the digital printing world, Kodak sent an Italian Nexpress business developer to give us presentations on how to create a market for the Nexpress.
I learnt a ton on that occassion, but most of all, the Italian dude from Kodak (Salvatore Massaro) mentioned two words that would change my life:
"SEO" and "Google Plus".
I became flat-out ravenous for all the information I could find on SEO (i.e. Search Engine Optimization), while I constantly followed the conversations of the most popular SEO consultants that were on Google Plus.
My zeal was able to push me to throw away all reservations and my bashfulness, and work myself into the conversations of these experts of SEO. I also noticed that Salvatore Massaro himself was inactive on Google Plus. But this gave me more of an incentive to strive to be more active on it. I learnt the value of creating and building and moderating communities. I also become more thoughtful about conversations on social media. I learnt from the influencers on G+ and their tribes, that the conversations on that platform were often saturated with much more information in them than anywhere else.
As time went on, I was eventually able to get the attention of the most legendary name in SEO: One of the pioneers of the craft! He is the Black Knight: Sir Ammon Johns.
Networking with Ammon Johns got me to connect with many other awesome people from the digital marketing world. These connections extended my reach into the Semantic Web
The value of this was that I always had easy access to the very latest information in my chosen industry.
The high level of know-how possessed by these people I was now keeping company (keeping virtual company that is) with, boosted my own ability to learn and understand how things worked on the world wide web.
I cannot stress how much you can potentially gain from merely maintaining conversation with the right people (on the right topics) on Google Plus. And I had never found this type of richness from LinkedIn or Facebook.
Marketing is mostly research, research and more research.
A lot of people know that they can do some very powerful research on Google search these days. The kind of research that was not achievable by paying lots of money to research consultancies years ago.
However, many people still do not know how to use free Google search's Advanced Features. Even less know about using search operator functions.
But my eyes were opened to these wonderful things and more because I followed (and actively interacted with) the right people on the right social network.
Technology Advances Everything
At the time I joined Google Plus, I was only interested in learning SEO and building a career in digital marketing.
However, five years down the line, today, I have been earning from SEO jobs, but I am also more than competent with AdWords, with Google Analytics, Social Media Marketing and strategy, and content marketing.
I am now working in the renewable energy industry in California, mostly due to the quality of information that I consumed on Googleplus, through my friends in the Forward Initiative League and a few others.
The way things are going, I could possibly end up focusing on digital marketing that specializes in the renewable energy industry.
But meanwhile, along the way, I also learned to write some Semantic Web code (i.e. JSON-LD and RDFa), I looked into Bitcoin, I fell in love with smart cities - and I know where I can easily fit into that.
Bottom line, once you start to obey your thirst for information, it only gets bigger and bigger. And the result is that you get more and more powerful. Your goals become clearer. You know you can be ambitious for something that is.....you!
And yet, all it takes is using your smartphone the right way. Start today. All it could take to start is one search on Google.
For me, it started when I searched "How does SEO work?" on my laptop. It ended up being a marketing concept that had a strong connection to the course that I studied at the University of Lagos (i.e. Mass Communication).
However, in your case, you might as well do the search already "guiding" yourself in line with what you are currently studying in school, or whatsover it is that you love to do, and could earn a living from doing.
If you need help in doing this, and will be willing to tell me what your current interests or studies are so that I can help you start the searches that can lead you to finding your goals, then reach out to me on my Africa Rising Collection. Find it here.
Finally, I would advice you to follow this blog because I will be posting more updates that will be very useful to anyone who has interest in technology, and especially any African who has interest in technology.
When more and more people set goals and pursue them, this is what leads to all growth. Not just economic growth. In my opinion.