The internet comes to Kenya
Of Africa Online, Ayisi Makatiani,Amolo Ngweno et al
I don’t remember when I first used the internet. It could have been 1997 or 1998. What I am sure of however, is that it was sometime before the year 2000. My earliest memory of the internet is my HOTMAIL email account. Opening my HOTMAIL and receiving an email, was the kind of stuff that could leave me starry eyed for weeks on end.
During this time in Kenya, a company shot up to prominence in a way most of us could never have imagined. Africa Online the first Internet service provider in Kenya and its founders Ayisi Makatiani, Amolo Ngweno and their less known partner Karanja Gakio ushered in a new era of lap-top wielding, nerdy superstars.
I don’t know whether I realized then, how much the internet would change the world. There was always something erratic about the whole internet thing. It seemed to have come from nowhere and on some level, it always felt that it could dissolve and disappear into wherever abyss it came from.
But it didn’t. Instead, it reinvented the world, pulverizing whole industries into oblivion and creating whole new ones.
The power of search engines
Somewhere along the way, GOOGLE and co. appeared. Whatever info you wanted, you just needed to key it in and voila, the search engines would serve it to you, warm and dry. Like most good things, there is a price to pay. Google and co., for all their generosity, wield unbelievable power over our lives.
A friend and I did an experiment recently by searching the same terms on Google. To our amazement, we were shown different results based on what Google reckons ‘suits’ us.
What this means, is that search engines, can draw out a fairly 'accurate' picture of who we are, our political affiliations, what we like and many other things based on our search and browsing history.
Checkmate for Google and co?
But is this about to change? Are we about to see a world where no one can trace where or who you are, based on your internet activities? Are anonymous browsers like Tor about to take over the internet?
I am deeply intrigued.