Impacts of technology on society

Following Amazon’s list of highest selling items, here is the list of most searched words. I am surprised that I hadnt heard of quite a few of them..

Fastest Rising (Global)

  1. michael jackson
  2. facebook
  3. tuenti
  4. twitter
  5. sanalika
  6. new moon
  7. lady gaga
  8. windows 7
  10. torpedo gratis

Fastest Falling (Global)

  1. beijing 2008
  2. euro 2008
  3. heath ledger
  4. barack obama
  5. amy winehouse
  6. kraloyun
  7. dailymotion
  8. bebo
  9. wii
  10. emule

The zeitgeist according to Amazon: The following is a list of the bestselling products on in 2009 by total units sold:

  • Electronics: Kindle Wireless Reading Device
  • Books: “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown
  • Kindle Books: “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown
  • DVD: “Twilight”
  • Video On Demand: “Twilight”
  • Music: “I Dreamed a Dream” by Susan Boyle
  • MP3 Album: “No Line on the Horizon” by U2
  • MP3 Song: “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas
  • Video Games: Wii
  • Computers: ASUS Eee PC 1005HA 10.1-Inch Black Netbook
  • Software: Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
  • Home & Garden: Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
  • Grocery: Coffee People, Donut Shop K-Cups for Keurig Brewers
  • Gourmet Food: 50’s Decade Box Gift Basket
  • Health & Personal Care: Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer
  • Beauty: Bare Escentuals bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation
  • Toys: Scrabble Slam Cards
  • Baby: Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether
  • Clothing & Accessories: Levi’s Men’s 550 Relaxed Fit Jean
  • Shoes and Handbags ( and Crocs Cayman Sandal
  • Jewelry: Sterling Silver Marcasite & Garnet Glass Heart Pendant
  • Watches: Casio Men’s Sea Analog Illuminator Dual LED Dive Watch
  • Sports & Outdoors: P90X Extreme Home Fitness Workout Program
  • Home Improvement: Toro Ultra 12 Amp Variable Speed Electric Blower/Vacuum
  • Automotive: Battery Tender 021-0123 Battery Tender Junior 12V Battery Charger

Bill Gates recently spoke about using capitalism to help the billions of underpriviledged citizens of this planet. His idea is to effectively spread the benefits of capitalism and the huge improvements in quality of life it can provide to people who have been left out. He cites C. K. Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. As an incentive to companies to look at markets outside the developed west, it is mentioned that poorest two-thirds of the world’s population has about $5 trillion in purchasing power.

Some innovative uses of cell phones in poor countries are cited. Customers are charged by the second instead of by the minute to keep costs low. Money transfer through mobile phones is also quite common. Then ofcourse, the importance of information flow is highlighted. Farmers use cell phones to find the best prices of their commodities in nearby markets. I have written about this in an earlier post as well.

Bill Gates also mentions product red. Red Branded products from a company have the same features as the standard product, but the companies donate a percentage of their profits from these products to fight AIDS. This creates added brand value for customers, who might choose such a product over a competitors standard product because of the charitable cause associated with a red-branded product.

Some interesting innovations that have come out of Microsoft Research are highlighted. Visual interfaces that enable the illiterate people to use a PC instantly, with minimal training is one. Another interesting project is one that lets an entire classroom full of students use a single computer using software that lets each student use his/her own mouse to control a specially colored cursor so that as many as 50 kids can use one computer at the same time. These projects not only help in educating the poor, it also serves in creating new markets for Microsoft.

I strongly believe that creative captilism has a lot of potential, not just for social upliftment but for companies to exploit untapped markets. Such projects, along with efforts like microcredit will definitely go a long way in helping to improve the lives of the poor.

Came across this nice study on Slashdot. It tries to analyse the correlation between the US presidential caucauses and the Google trends for the candidates during this period. A nice effort at using sometime widely available to draw demographic conclusions.

Came across this excellent article about the economic impact of cellphones. I had read about Grameen Phone and its socio-economic impacts earlier. This article tells very interesting stories of cellphones changing the lives of people. Follows Nokia design/usability research Jan Chipchase on his journeys across the globe giving an insight on how new product-feature ideas are spawned.