Gone are the days of children being seen and not heard, hidden even from their parents for much of the day or roaming the streets making mischief. With the development of the internet in recent decades the age of digital entrepreneurship has plummeted.
Technology and politics analyst, Micah Sifry has observed that “the next generation is growing up online, rather than adapting to it in their mid-adult years”. It is not a simple case of ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. Children have far greater access to technology now than even ten years ago when I was at school. Classrooms are filled to bursting with technology, some are even Apple training centres, partnered with the company aiming to “use the latest technology to engage and enthuse students to higher levels of performance and creativity.”
Arguably the internet’s most famous young star is Mark Zuckerberg who launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room in 2004 at the age of 19. He was a billionaire by the age of 23 and by July 2013, he reportedly had a net worth of $33.1 billion.
Another computer whizz, English teenager Nick D’Aloisio, developed a mobile news app called Summly. The app was designed to solve problems with the way that news articles were displayed and accessed across a range of devices using a process of ‘multi-document summarisation’. His concept was invested in by a Hong Kong billionaire venture capitalist in 2011, and his app was sold to Yahoo for $30million in 2013. D’Aloisio was 17. He now studies at Oxford University while still fulfilling his role as Product Manager on Yahoo News Digest.
The process of creation has accelerated dramatically at the hands of the internet. Product development was once a very long and drawn out process that could take years. Now you can come up with an idea beneath your duvet, lift the lid of your MacBook, spend a couple of hours turning your idea into reality while munching on gummy bears, upload it to the web, then climb back into bed. No need to leave the bedroom, dress or brush your teeth.
“This newfound power of individuals and communities to send up, out, and around their own products and ideas…rather than just passively downloading them from commercial enterprises or traditional hierarchies, is fundamentally reshaping the flow of creativity, innovation, political mobilisation, and information gathering and dissemination…More than ever, we can all now be producers, not just consumers.” Thomas Friedman
I spoke to young app developer Brodie Knibbs (14) who had his first endeavour accepted by Apple earlier this year. He was inspired to create his GeoQuiz Geography game after looking through the app store, curious as to what goes into putting together an app. The result is a quiz for the iPhone made up of 35 questions that get progressively tougher. The user’s results at the end of the quiz are shareable via social media.
Images of unintelligible strings of numbers and letters running through my head, I asked him how he did it. Brodie simply stated that making the app had been “quite easy really”. He had primarily used YouTube tutorials to help him with the creation process. The hard part was getting the app accepted by Apple.
Here is a young man who shows a lot of promise. He is inspired and motivated by the technology and software that he has access to at little or no cost to him or his parents. Brodie ticks all the boxes. He appreciates that interactivity and sharing are key to the success of an app. He has also ensured that the app’s design and process is not complicated, and he has built himself a platform he can build on. Perhaps next there will be a history quiz, maths or science. He even has marketing covered. To coincide with the release of QeoQuiz to the app store, Brodie put together a short promotional film to publicise the app (link to video).
“The web gives small businessmen working out of their bedrooms access to business tools that [before] only large companies could afford.” Thomas Friedman
Moore’s Law dictates that the processing power of computers doubles every two years. Admittedly, physicists now believe that this theory is finally breaking down. “Computer power simply cannot maintain its rapid exponential rise using standard silicon technology” suggests Michio Kaku. Even so, increasing computer power over recent years and the years to come, mean that the world of digital technology is ever flatter. Every human with access to the internet now has the opportunity to become a website designer, journalist, app developer, etc. There is no discrimination over age, gender or ethnicity. The world is flat and age is insignificant.