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Four ways smartphones are changing the world for the better

By Erdem Pulcu

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Facebook in 2004. YouTube in 2005. Twitter in 2006. iPhone in 2007. Android in 2008. The launch of these landmark products has changed our lives dramatically over the last decade. We didn’t know it at the time, but these were milestones on the road to a new world. They were some of the key moments of the mobile revolution.

Not all changes brought by the mobile revolution have been positive. In fact, for certain groups of people from around the world, the explosion of mobile has brought misery and exploitation. We touch on this dark side of our mobile addiction here. But on a global scale, the mobile age has unlocked great benefits for all of us. In this post we’ll be looking at some of the ways smartphones have changed our world for the better.

Word spreads around the globe

One of the most significant improvements the mobile revolution has brought about is the speed at which information spreads from one part of the globe to another. It doesn’t matter if the content is to our liking or not. The visionaries who foresaw that people would like to own a small handheld device (i.e. the smartphone) that can connect them to millions of their peers over the internet were proven absolutely right!

Mass-media companies like BBC, CNN, Reuters, The Independent or The New York Times quickly recognized this potential and established official presences on Facebook or Twitter and other platforms, using them to broadcast breaking news around the clock.

It goes deeper than that. Thanks to the internet and our feature-packed smartphones, we can not only consume and interact with incoming news, we can also be the first ones to communicate things to the rest of the world if we happen to be at the right place, at the right time. And we’re doing this over devices that just two decades ago would’ve looked at home in sci-fi flicks.

Events in one country now have almost instant implications for the rest of the world. With steady improvements in network speeds and hardware, we’re more connected than ever. Remember the so-called Arab Spring (regardless of the eventual outcomes of the events): how social opposition movements spread out like wildfire; how people were inspired by citizens of other countries to demand similar liberties for themselves; and how people organized on social media to attend rallies and protests.

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Although my personal experience with Periscope has been fairly disappointing (despite shooting from a phone with 4K camera and OIS over high-speed LTE), apps like it allow people to stand up as individual journalists and broadcast incidents live as they happen. We see footage shot with smartphones in mass-media almost every day now.

For marginalized groups, taking to social media has become an effective way to appeal to the general public. This can backfire, as inevitably, our online presence makes the internet a domain of interest for governments. Thus, we have a struggle between opposing forces – on one side people demanding equality, privacy and liberties; on the other, authorities who want to control and regulate. Aaron Swartz, the late internet activist, once said, “It is not, you know, only certain people have licence to speak, now everyone has a licence to speak. It’s a question of who gets heard”.

In my opinion, we are living through a transition period triggered by a dramatic change in mobile networks in the last decade and personal experience tell me that transition periods could be painful. But sooner or later things will stabilize and everyday liberties enjoyed by leading Western countries will spread out throughout the world. Surely, the mobile networks are speeding up this process.

Abolishing boundaries

I have been searching for an informative graph showing how the average number of countries people visited changed in the last 300 years or so. Unfortunately I didn’t come across a good figure. We can intuitively say that the number is continuously increasing as travelling is becoming safer and cheaper.

I cannot express how living in other countries, communicating with people from other cultures can broaden one’s life perspective. By 30, I have spent much more time abroad than my whole family combined, and I think that the time we spend abroad will continue to increase for future generations. The mobile revolution is one of the key reasons why this is the case.

As someone who was living in Japan with a very elementary level of Japanese speaking ability, it amazes me how people survived before Google Maps, Translate, and many others apps that make traveling so much easier today. From one perspective, the dependence on mobile technology is pathetic (I would have preferred if I had enough time to learn Japanese), but on the other hand it surely makes it easier for people to explore foreign cultures.

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From my own personal observation, I wasn’t that much into mobile technology when I was living in the UK, maybe because I did not needed it as much. However, in Japan, my smartphone became one of my most prized possessions, as it connected me to the rest of the world and made it convenient for me to interact with my surroundings (even the simple task of checking the ingredients in a product, which would otherwise be impossible if Google Translate did not exist).

I believe that this convenience of travelling and staying connected to the rest of the world will bring about another positive transformation, although this may not happen during our lifetime. It is highly likely that someday, as more people interact and connect with foreign cultures, borders between countries will start to …read more

Source:: android authority