Second superpower, third world?

· The Power of Many

Since Pete has done a good job of tracking back the second superpower meme, I figured we should also continue tracking it forward, as in Making Room for the Third World in the Second Superpower.
In it, the author looks at how blogging and other forms of Internet community building (obviously working from Moore’s re-definition of the 2nd SP) are spreading to the least wired parts of the planet, formerly referred to as the third world.
A few choice quotes (almost at random – the whole essay is worth reading despite the funny characters sprinkled throughout):

Marketers refer to the challenge of selling products popular within a technical elite to the mainstream as “crossing the chasm”, phrase coined by Geoffrey Moore in a book of the same name. While marketers have a vested financial interest in ensuring that the mainstream uses products the technorati embrace, it’s unclear whether webloggers have a similar incentive to open their community to the wider world. Indeed, the willingness of the first generation of tool builders and users to open their community may be the key determinant in deciding whether these transformations affect only the technical elite or the whole world.


If the social software community cares about ensuring global use of their tools and global participation in discussions, we need to take a close look at the usability of our tools by people in other nations. For example, many popular blog hosting services are modestly priced, but require payment online via credit card. This creates an insurmountable barrier for the majority of people in developing nations, who while they may have the means to pay a $5 per month hosting fee (comparable to the costs associated with a few hours access to a cybercafe), but lack the method to make the payment, as credit cards are largely unavailable throughout Africa and much of Central and South Asia. Designers of social software who hope to have a global audience for their products need to start designing those products in conjunction with that global audience.