Apps, Innovations, and 21st Century Challenges

Why should the success of a few apps convince so many that creating apps is the new norm of innovation? You meet a group of individuals, especially computer literate ones, challenged with coming up with an innovative solution, and more than 90% of the times, creating an app is Number one on their list. It is true, apps are a great way to interface with whoever you want to reach at the other end, but not all challenges are best approached with apps. The few success stories are those that have come at the right time and are really suited to entertain the current technology gap. Soon the craze dies out and people go back to how life used to be. The excitement is short-lived. Out of the over 50 apps downloaded on my phone, only about 10 are useful. The others are either default apps that I can’t delete, and others are the many that I was hyped about and soon forgot about after the first day, and yet I’m still lazy to delete. Such is the story of some of your innovations, lying idle on my phone or tab; for which I always postpone those ‘rate me’ notices that pop up whenever out of sheer boredom I happen to open that particular app. To assume that a challenge such as reducing the number of street kids involves building an app that you use whenever you meet a street kid is abuse of the innovative approaches of our forefathers. We have already settled for the lazy ways to make social connections. We have already accepted that more than 50% of our social engagements are virtual, or are influenced by what we consume from the media, largely social media. All traditional media outlets have recognised this potential and are fully using it to extend and expand their influence. We are now consumers of one-line news media, and that’s enough for us to become masters of that one line we just read online. We start preaching that one line; we share it around, even without reading to the depths of what it’s about! What a shame! What a pity! We have judged the book by its cover indeed. That’s the reality of today’s innovative approaches – driven by money, fame, ignorance, and so many other intentions. Of course don’t get me wrong here; plenty of these innovations have turned out to be such a blessing! And for all the positive benefits they bring, I applaud them, and I applaud you too for your every positive engagement with them. I salute all those inventions that have tackled the problems the right way (efficient, simple, cheap, accessible, etc.). Sorry for diverging into the nuisances of social media apps, probably it deserved addressing since it too stands out as a major innovation of the 21st century and probably a precursor to the birth of similar and less thought about apps.

The 21st century still presents us with so many challenges, and most of them call for a physical engagement or interface. As such, we need to work on linking the two; the traditional approaches and the virtual interactions. Let’s do the crowd funding online, but go to the ground to implement its output. Let’s mobilise quickly and easily online, and actually show up physically for a good cause. Let’s interact more. Our current technologies are not yet up to the grassroots as you may be tempted to think. Just because you and a few of your friends use smart phones or are computer literate, doesn’t mean the whole world does. Even those few with smart phones never go past the basic calling and texting! Until we have a generation born into the internet and computer age, we shall have to stick to other approaches other than the dotcom, or much better, find a way of integrating the two. So for now, let’s not always jump to an online solution (website or app) to attend to things that may require hands-on management. Let’s not define the norm by eliminating the past. It’s not backward to write someone a hand written letter, which gets to them by post. Don’t you long to open that pen written and addressed letter? It used to be the norm. Anyway, think about the innovations that we need to stop world hunger, the rampant epidemics, the failing world peace and the so many ongoing wars. The solutions to such challenges need to be more than just our current approaches. Think.

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