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Ananya Roy

The Reliable Adventurer-Warrior

Technology Driven Creative Disruption

Let’s look at these three ‘stories’ about disrupting an existing system through technology, for a positive social outcome.

Story 1: Kiva, one of the web’s most interesting innovators in the micro-lending space, have somewhat reversed the traditional balance of money flowing in from the first world to the third world. Over 10 million micro entrepreneurs operate in the US, and many small businesses lack access to traditional bank credit because their loan requests are too small, their length of time in business is too short, or they conduct home-based sales that banks typically do not consider. Thanks to Kiva, now loans are coming in to the US from lenders in emerging markets.

Story 2: The Arab Spring has shown the world what is possible when one combines social unrest and activism with powerful digital tools. The speed of communication through digital channels gives activists exceptional dexterity during street operations to organize, debate, plan, and broadcast. This was unimaginable in the past. Real change may remain elusive, but something deeper and more universal has been achieved - voice. Social and mainstream media have connected people to each other and to the world.

Story 3: One Laptop Per Child’s experiment in a couple of remote Ethiopian villages and Dr. Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall project are both brilliant examples of how illiterate children with little instruction and no formal background in computers can teach themselves to read and play with technology, by experimenting with devices and software. This is another way to think about learning – that the millions of unschooled children around the world can teach themselves without the help of schools, teachers and textbooks.

Disruption is basically about breaking the rules and challenging conventions to come up with something entirely new. A disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative. Being subject to disruption forces a person, or a system, to adapt, learn and improve. Creative disruption intentionally brings the challenge or change right to an existing system to force it to change and adapt.

An important part of social innovation is to identify disruption opportunities, and then use technology to leverage real social change.

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