Saturday, February 25, 2012

Links Likes and RTs

Connecting. It is now easier, so much easier with the technology that we have, especially from the developing countries. I can go on enumerating its benefits to many of us who became users and subscribers of this worldwide environment connected via internet. Even super-ultramarathon away from the Philippines, news and bits travel faster to me. Well, yeah, i do not have my personal FB or Tweeter accounts, yet there are ways to learn what's happening about something somewhere.

We, the Filipinos are maintaining our top spot as the Text (Short Message Services or SMS) Capital of the World. Why is this so? Sending SMS or simply 'text' is way cheaper than voice calling - more practical and convenient. A 2009 survey says that Filipinos collectively sends 1.39 billion text messages daily. That means with over 70 million subscribers, each person sends an average of 20 SMS everyday. I wonder how much messages were flooded when we had some historical events in the country like EDSA II ousting former President Estrada and various calamities that hit the country - Ondoy, Pepeng, Sendong and others. A 2010 senatorial candidate even used SMS as a political springboard appealing to the masang Pilipino (Filipino masses) through a consumer protectionist policy.

SMS and Economy
And what's more? Filipinos don't just want to communicate and reach out thru this texting facility. We even go further by offering a lot, I really mean a LOT, of services by just one message sent. Sending greetings on-air. Voting for tons of reality shows. Joining game shows (TV, product, radio, etc). Purchasing. Sending comments, suggestions, complaints. Scamming. and so on... Six years ago, i purchased my graduation shoes using money transferred to my mobile.

Developing countries, especially the Philippines, is way advanced in using the SMS facility than developed countries. Yep, more advanced. Here in Germany, there are no SMS gimmicks and services that I used to enjoy in the Philippines. To cite some: Banking transactions have to be through the internet, ATMs or personal bank appearance. Unfortunately, no SMS facility yet. TV show polls are still through calls, none through SMS. I can't even share my mobile load credits.

In the World Bank's Social Media, Jobs and Microentrepreneur webcast, the Philippine mobile users were praised for being capable of memorizing keypads. Yes, we do, it is so easy, we can do whatever while keying SMS anytime. More so, we are capable of memorizing our and special someone's mobile number. Aha! That is the reason why my friends were amazed when I recited to them my number.

One thing I came to realize is how texting transformed lives of many Filipinos economically. With the growing demand for mobile services, loading through mobile cards became less attractive. Small stores, kiosks and individual became retailers of mobile credits. Mobile repair shops mushroomed and became a thriving business. Non-mobile and non-communication service businesses also prospered not just in urban areas but reaching as far as the rural lands and mountains! Though no data might capture it, i am sure thousands of employment were generated directly and indirectly because of this technology.

Airport and Connectivity On
Moving on to social networks and sites. I have learned through the webcast about Apps Economy. There had been a growing economy on applications (Apps) for various platforms during the previous years. It was mentioned that much of the Apps developers and engineers came from the Philippines! Oh wow, Kudos to Filipinos! Our ingenuity, creativity and innovativeness are reflected unhindered by the constraints of finances and other resources. Not to forget that at the dawn of 2000, a Filipino student caused many systems across the globe to shut down because of the 'I love you' virus. Though produced bragging rights at first, we then realized the negative results after causing over $ 1.0 billion damage.

Comparable to the SMS facility, social networking sites had created job opportunities as well. Studies show that: 1.3 percent of the economy grows for every 10.0 percent increase in national broadband usage. Economy had been moving through online media. The reason why almost all products in Philippine TV commercial has facebook and/or tweeter account. Even local commercial establishments create their own business pages thru this social networking, and one can just find him/herself tagged regularly.

There are some thoughts I am pondering while writing this post. Because I don't have the answers, but i have questions.
- Are our laws and policies effectively implemented with the pace which technology, Filipino creativity and freedom advances?
- How do policy-makers treat the large IT market?
- How could technological development be dispersed to urban poor, rural areas and marginal sector of the economy?
- How does this affected our society especially on spending real-face-to-face-time with family and friends? After all, we are all still humans, needing personal touch than mere PMs, SMS even MMS.

This blog is inspired after watching a replay of World Bank's WebCast on "Social Media, Jobs, and Entrepreneurship" during Washington's Social Media Week.

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