Monday, September 14, 2009

Conversations about tomorrow

I recently an old book from a street vendor I like to buy from at the corner of Alliance Francais in Nairobi.

The title caught my eye, besides the Larry King’s profile picture back in the day with full black (brunette) hair and skin that could have known botox.

Future Talk: Conversations about tomorrow with Today's most Provocative personalities.

The book was published about 10 years ago, and the powerful conversations got me going. Last night I read Larry's interview with Microsoft’s Bill Gates. It was done online and they talked about the future of the Internet.

What I love most about Larry King is his ability to converse on TV as if it is a discussion over coffee, without the glare and jitters that come with camera's lights and showbiz countdowns.

I wished I was a fly on the wall as Bill Gates typed his responses to Larry’s pretty normal questions; they usually are what you and I would probably be thinking of, without having to sound too smart.

Some of the questions were:

“What will happen to the post office when Internet becomes a craze, will they close?”

“How about catalogues?”

“What will happen to the pencil?”

“How about television, what will change?”

What moved me the most about this interview is the intelligibility with which Bill Gates gave his responses, and how precise most of those predictions are, now about 10 years later.

On the query about Television, Gates said "There will be plenty of Flat screen TV's hanging from the walls in homes, offices, malls, and every other place. But TV will not die.

I digress.

I am now in a country that's over excited and salivating over the prospects of fiber Optic cable. I have for the first time in my life (and I happen to be 30 now) experienced fast internet via the Seacom cable, and got to watch live TV after loading for less than 19 seconds, that's revolutionary.

Now imagine this, and all the forecasts that our experts seem to have.

Not too long ago, on the news, an ICT guru talked about opportunities for investment within East Africa as the internet opens up becomes cheaper and more reliable, and one of the things he said was, Television is going to revolutionize, and everyone will be watching TV from the Internet.

I disagree. TV is a culture; it’s about family gathering in the living room over a cuppa tea, I don’t see my family watching Desperate Houswives from a PC, or a MAC, however large, at least not in my lifetime.

My point though:

I must say that the absence of fact and over speculation are some of the things that discredit us. It may have been a personal opinion, but my take away from this book is the powerful convictions of the personalities interviewed.

The day Africa will become great, is the day we stop being a master of all trades. Our leaders are experts at multi-tasking, moving from one sector to the other, without sharpening a particular skill.

How do we become masters of our trade if we don not stay long enough to master the tricks of the trade?

I backtrack to what a note I wrote about last week, addressed to the President.

Get the best man for the job.

In this case, the expert is the Top performer, the one passionate about his work, and most importantly the one who has precise predictions about tomorrow.

Africa needs to find these people.

1 comment:

  1. I was going to the say the same thing about Bill Gates answer. Television is now part of the culture. We still watch the TV, less than before, but that is because our viewing habits have changed.

    For examples, more than 50% of what I watch is pre-recorded on TIVO. That way, I can watch everything that run during the week on the weekend and at the same time skip the Ads.