When it comes to applying technology, developing countries are overcoming odds and shifting into high gear! They’re geotracking political events (Ushahidi), they’re avoiding counterfeit drugs (mPedigree), they’re transferring money with their phones - albeit Nokia’s, but still (MPESA), and they don’t even pay for their internet (0.facebook).
“…more than two-thirds of malaria medicine in Nigeria was fake or substandard. Now the consumers of the medicine are being armed with exactly what they need to outwit the counterfeiters…The consumer takes out a mobile phone and sends the code to a toll-free number,” he explains…Within two seconds of texting the number from a pack of anti-malaria medicine, a message appears on his phone with the word “YES” - a simple response meaning the drug is genuine.”  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20976277
“On Wednesday, Facebook announced an effort aimed at drastically cutting the cost of delivering basic Internet services on mobile phones, particularly in developing countries, where Facebook and other tech companies need to find new users. Half a dozen of the world’s tech giants, including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson, have agreed to work with the company as partners on the initiative, which they call Internet.org.”
"Kobia lost no time getting to work, and launched his own portal two days later, marking the start of his successful business Ushahidi (or “Testimony” in Swahili). The site made it possible for witnesses of violence anywhere in Kenya to phone in place and time, which were then mapped…The Ushahidi platform, which makes it possible to easily crowd-source information — via SMS, email, Twitter and the Web — is now being used in 30 countries.”
Are you considering how your technology could be relevant to these new markets?

Put your thinking cap on ‘cause we’re entering the age of the “generalist.” Budgets are tight, projects are multi-disciplinary, and technology is evolving - forcing many companies to ask their employees to stretch their wings.  Job descriptions are getting longer and longer, combining departments, and asking for more than many are prepared to take on. Say goodbye to the Specialist, and hello to the Jack-of-all-trades worker.
“Meaning that where you fall on the spectrum of specialist to generalist could be one of the most important aspects of your personality—and your survival in an ever-changing workplace.”
“Companies are hiring more free agents than ever before because they save money and acquire niche expertise to solve specific business problems. This is different from full-time salaried workers who get benefits and are generalists in their fields. In 2009, companies hired 28% more freelancers, and now in 2012, they are hiring 36% more, reports CareerBuilder.”
“For various reasons, though, the specialist era is waning. The future may belong to the generalist. Why’s that? To begin, our highly interconnected and global economy means that seemingly unrelated developments can affect each other.”
“My prediction is that the number of “permanent employees” will be dramatically reduced.  Those who remain permanent employees will be general managers or project managers who will source the right skills at the right time – externally or internally – to drive their companies forward.  This would be a vast improvement over the never-ending re-organizations we see today.”

If too many of us evolve into jack-of-all-trades workers, will we be a country that’s “master of none?”

Gen Y won’t be caught dead in something called a ‘waiting room’ – they’re actually more likely to die in their beds, with their laptop open, googling their symptoms. As price-sensitive digital natives unconcerned with privacy, Gen Yers are leading the way in a trend towards more convenient and affordable web-based healthcare, whether it’s researching antioxidants in a peer-to-peer forum or snapping a picture of a mole for a digital dermatologist.

“72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year. The most commonly-researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals” (Pew).
“People who look up their symptoms, investigate the latest treatments or research can gain more from their GP consultation, a study has found… The research follows advice that patients should generally avoid ‘Googling’ their symptoms because of the wealth of inaccurate and misleading information on the web” (The Telegraph).
“While subjects did describe many unsuccessful attempts at communicating with doctors in their past, much of what the study uncovered was a host of reasons why patients think they cannot communicate with their doctor — why such attempts will fail. It’s not entirely clear whether these are actual barriers or barriers that exist only in patients’ minds. In either case, patients clearly feel unable to have the type of discussion they would like to have with their doctor” (The Atlantic).
"According to a recent study, one in four British women has misdiagnosed themselves on the Internet. Researchers found that women with real health concerns are twice as likely to go online for advice than they are to ask a doctor, their friends, or even their mothers, especially where embarrassing symptoms are involved" (ZDnet).


When it is something serious, an app might not catch it - or cure it.

image via Google Images

Listen, just because the 49ers lost this year, doesn’t mean we should offload our losing team shirts to Africa to win back some warm fuzzies. I know it’s a bummer to think that our well-intentioned efforts could actually be ruining economies, too expensive to use, or just plain not useful to the culture…but that’s kinda what’s happening. To avoid seeing our goodhearted contributions shoved in a storage closet, let’s make sure they’re relevant before we ship ‘em out. 
“A major reason that so much equipment sits idle, the report says, is that donors from hospitals and charities in the rich world don’t properly think through health-care delivery elsewhere before they ship off their surplus gear. If they have secondhand or excess medical equipment, many donors assume that, as long as it’s in good condition, it can be useful in settings that lack the equipment — not realizing that lack of resources can extend to basic infrastructure needed for operation.”http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/06/report-why-40-of-donated-medical-equipment-goes-unused-in-poor-countries/
“Everyone wins, right? The NFL offloads 100,000 shirts (and hats and sweatshirts) that can’t be sold — and takes the donation as a tax break. World Vision gets clothes to distribute at no cost. And some Nicaraguans and Zambians get a free shirt. What’s not to like? Quite a lot, as it happens — so much so that there’s even a Twitter hashtag, #SWEDOW, for “Stuff We Don’t Want,” to track such developed-world offloading, whether it’s knit teddy bears for kids in refugee camps, handmade puppets for orphans, yoga mats for Haiti, or dresses made out of pillowcases for African children.”
“What’s wrong with giving away shoes?” you might be thinking. “At least they’re doing something.” The problem, we’ve learned, is when that “something” can do more harm than good. As Time recently noted, an increasing number of foreign aid practitioners and agencies are recognizing that charitable gifts from abroad can distort developing markets and undermine local businesses by creating an entirely unsustainable aid-based economy. By undercutting local prices, Western donations often hurt the farmers, workers, traders, and sellers whose success is critical to lifting entire communities out of poverty. That means every free shoe donated actually works against the long-term development goals of the communities we are trying to help.”
How can we ensure that our contributions to developing countries will be relevant and useful to their culture, values, and economy? 

Millennials are a multimedia generation spoiled with Hi-Def and Blu Ray.  With much of their lives existing on screen, Gen Y have developed a discerning visual palate and they’re not afraid to judge a book by it’s cover.   When it comes to health, they trust what they see: Pearly whites, good; coffee stains, bad.  While cholesterol levels and calories may be flat out ignored, you better believe they’ve spent some serious time inspecting their selfies to decide whether or not they need to be ‘healthy’ this week.  

You would think with all this talk about Gen Y and their destitute employment situation that they would be hanging on to any job they got for dear life. Whether from Baby Boomers nurturing these emerging adults as trophy children, technology advancements creating a more mobile lifestyle, or the desire to “do more” with their life, this generation is not in it for the long haul.
"Companies around the world are dealing with the high cost of turnover for Gen-Y employees. 70 percent of them leave their job within two years of joining, reports experience.com."
"Right now, employers are looking to date. They’re not looking to get married." -Patrick O’Keefe, a former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, on the boom in temp hires in New Jersey. 
"Gen Y workers are job hoppers’" says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, a Boston-based personal branding agency, and author of Me 2.0. “They spend an average of two years at their first jobs, and the average American will have nine jobs between the ages of 18 and 32.”

How will companies adapt to accommodate a generation that is looking for flexibility and freedom in the workplace?

Although people are more strapped for cash than ever, charitable giving hasn’t abated. In fact, people who have less are more compassionate and altruistic than their thick-walleted peers. Nowhere is this more apparent than the rise of crowdfunding – where a heart-rending facebook post and a series of dollar donations can generate thousands in a matter of hours. Social media is changing the nature of giving – allowing individuals to connect directly with the people and causes they care about, whether it’s helping someone pay for a new kidney or record a new album.

“In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income” (The Atlantic).

“…The researchers gave participants the opportunity to share $10 with an anonymous stranger. A few days earlier, the participants had all filled out a questionnaire in which they reported their socioeconomic status. The results showed that people who had placed themselves lower on the social scale were actually more generous than upper class participants were” (Greater Good).

“A student captured the encounter on his cellphone and posted it on his Facebook page. On Tuesday, it was posted on YouTube, titled “Making the Bus Monitor Cry,” where it has surpassed 4.7 million views. The video prompted outrage around the Internet, with users on Reddit urging people to send Ms. Klein messages of support, and to call and e-mail complaints to the school. After viewing the video, Max Sidorov, of Toronto, responded by raising money online  for a vacation for Ms. Klein. He originally set a goal of $5,000, but has exceeded that total more than a hundredfold” (NYT).


Help people tell good stories to sympathetic ears, and they’ll love you more than money.

image via Flickr/Chris Radcliff

Cohabitation has replaced marriage. Multiple generations are living together, and same sex couples are getting hitched. These new households are broadening our definition of what a family is, and changing how we spend time and money.
"Nearly a quarter of California’s same-sex couples are raising children, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The share of "nuclear families" – that is, a married man and woman raiding their children – has declined to 23.4% of California households, according to the Los Angeles Times."

"Boomers are feeling the pressure financially and emotionally," says Suzanna de Baca, vie president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. "In many cases they’re sandwiched between children who are unemployed or struggling to pay down their student loan debt and aging parents who are facing complex health and financial issues. At the same time, they’re trying to prepare for their own retirement. The demands on their time and money can feel endless."

Since the definition of “family” no longer includes a familiar template, customization on all levels is becoming key.

"Screw genetics! Screw aging! I want abs this summer… and arms that are somewhere between Madonna and Michelle Obama." 
As a generation raised on Adderall and The Biggest Loser, Millennials don’t feel limited by their DNA or what they see in the mirror. Given the right discipline, money, or tools they’re confident they can make their bodies do or BE whatever they want. That might mean taking energy shots (delete that 2:30 feeling!) or implanting magnets under the skin (free wifi!). The singularity IS near!*

"That’s the thing, it’s not that much of a leap," said Cannon. "We’ve had pacemakers since the ’70s." Brain implants are now being used to treat Parkinson’s disease and depression. Scientists hope that brain implants might soon restore mobility to paralyzed limbs. The crucial difference is that grinders are pursuing this technology for human enhancement, without any medical need.”  - Cyborg America, The Verge.com
*”The end-game for all this is ‘singularity’: a state of super-intelligence that could entail endless implants and body modifications - and the end of humanity as we know it. A long time before we get there, however, will be the embracing of wearable technology by the internet’s biggest brands; Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.” - Rise of the Bodyhackers, Techradar
"Biological evolution is too slow for the human species.  Over the next few decades, it’s going to be left in the dust." - Ray Kurzweil


Man, machine: they’re merging for business and/or pleasure. Understand how you can support bodyhackers before they really mess themselves up.

image via phoenixnewtimes