What do cell phones and clean water have in common?

Sketch note of cell phones and clean water

I heard a TED Talk this morning from Andrew Bastawrous about cell phones in the Third World and an app that will help diagnose and cure blindness.

What struck me was when he said more people own cell phones than have access to clean water. I found an article confirming that:

More People Have Cell Phones Than Clean Water | The Corvallis Advocate.

That amazed me for several reasons.

  1. In effect, more people have technology than basic health needs
  2. Land line telephones have become obsolete in the Third World before they became widespread.
  3. This probably means illiterate groups have more access to information than ever before.

While smart phones are still rare in developing nations (according to a Pew survey) , it is only a matter of time until this changes.

This is key for publishers and media professionals. Up to five years ago, I was in discussions where we believed most of our customers still didn’t own a desktop computer. Now, we must admit even remote villages in far-flung regions of the world can access technology. It stands to reason a household may be more likely to own a mobile phone than a printed book.

Think of it! Households that may not have a literate person living there could suddenly have access to information that was otherwise out of their reach. This is more than revolutionary. This could fundamentally change how the world thinks.

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Talk or Text?

©2013 Speartoons, Inc

Cartoon of a couple on smart phones. The guy says, “What am I supposed to do with your text that says, ‘We don’t talk anymore?'”

I’m not a guy that is against smart phones and texting. I love both and use them daily. However, I realize it just isn’t the same as face to face conversation. There are some conversations that simply shouldn’t be carried out with a text. For instance, you shouldn’t break up with someone over a text. Marriage proposals are equally inappropriate. And if you need to fire an employee, I’m guessing a text isn’t the way to go.

Before you send out a text, consider if this is the appropriate way to communicate your message. We have so many options today, thanks to technology. No one method fits every need. Use discernment when considering how to communicate something

Grandma’s phone

Cartoon of two kids looking at a rotary phone. One says, "I'll text Mom and tell her that odd machine in Grandma's house is noisy again."

Cartoon of two kids looking at a rotary phone. One says, “I’ll text Mom and tell her that odd machine in Grandma’s house is noisy again.”

I’m wondering if there are any rotary phones left in the United States. I haven’t seen one for years, but they were a very big part of my childhood. Surely someone is still using one of those odd machines.

Technology changes in the blink of an eye. What was the norm twenty years ago is now distant history. I’ve learned not to depend on technology if I’m looking for something that will last. Phone will come and go. Put your hopes in something that isn’t a fad or the latest technology.