The video above illustrates how innovative people can use the Internet to truly shape their lives and world. Everyone would probably agree that this is what we should use the web for, but it’s easy to forget the massive power of the net amongst all the half-baked political rants, pornography, pictures of cats and videos of folks getting hit in the groin.
Thankfully, there are people out there like Zack Matere, this farmer from a rural area of Kenya. And there are the good folks at Google who’ve documented his utilization of the web and uploaded the whole thing in a tight little video on their YouTube channel.
Zack Matere was a Kenyan potato farmer with a problem. His potatoes were dying and he didn’t know why. None of the printed potato literature provided information on dealing with his particular problem, and none of his farmer friends had any advice. A century ago, Matere would pretty much be out of luck at this point and have to ditch the potato business.
Fortunately, this is the 21st Century and the Internet has invaded all corners of the globe (although some quicker than others). Matere had to bike 10 kilometers to the nearest Internet café in Eldoret. There, he Googled “potato disease” and found out his plants’ mysterious ailment was probably caused by ants. He also found out that other farmers had success after spreading wood ash on the potatoes. Matere listened to the Internet and the ants stopped attacking his potatoes.
He also found a buyer for those potatoes and has tripled his returns on other crops with the help of the World Wide Web.
To most Americans, Matere’s successful use of the net might seem not worthy of note. However, it’s inspiring when you consider that this was his first time Googling anything, and he believes he’s the only farmer for miles that has even logged on. It’s a reminder of how the web is such a powerful tool, one that can link people with critical information from all over the globe.
After Matere defeated the ants, he started becoming an Internet activist for his community. He pays about 66 cents a day for a mobile Internet connection (which would be out of the question for many rural Africans). With this connection, though, he links his whole town with the world, trying to garner information for anyone who requests it.
In an age when it’s easy to forget how the Internet can be used for good, it’s great that there are people like Matere out there, making the world better with every click, wall post and search.