On the same day that he did the presentation, Bill Gates' TED presentation was up. A man not known for his public speaking ability, or rather, known for his poor presentation skills, was very very impressive. Talking about something he really cared about. Gates is what I call a 'Philanthrocapitalist'. Someone who has made vast sums of money through capitalism and now is ploughing that money back into the community creatively. He is applying his business knowledge and financial power to solving some of the worlds biggest problems. In his first 10 minutes, he talks about getting rid of Malaria, and in the 2nd 10 minutes he talks about trying to improve the quality of education.
He brings up a good point though. The technology is now available to take the highest quality education to anyone who has a computer. With the ability to cheaply record lessons from the worlds best teachers, pod casts, web conferencing, the digitizing of all knowledge and a networked world... there is no reason whatsoever for people to have access to the wealth of the world's accumulated knowledge. We just need people who are good at communicating. We need teachers. We need people who are passionate about spreading ideas.
With social networking only just sort of figuring out what it is capable of, I can't help but feel the days of borders and prejudices are numbered. It is only 500 years or so since Gutenberg invented the press and the world slowly started ridding itself of superstition and illiteracy. Ignorance and Fear are stubborn and it will take time to get rid of them, but it feels like we really are on the verge of a whole new world.
It is hard not to be optimistic in the face of all the deep problems the world faces.