Ron Jacobs

Windows Workflow Foundation

Investing in the long tail

Investing in the long tail

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“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Nearly every day I think how amazed I am at the changes the internet has brought us.  If you could bring someone from the near past (just 20 years ago) and show them how the internet has impacted the world I’m sure they would be shocked.  There was a time when most futurists predicted the world would be increasingly consolidated as corporations became larger and larger.  They worried that the voice of the individual would be snuffed out through tightly controlled media outlets but the web has made all of those predictions fall by the wayside. 

The web has enabled the “Long Tail” phenomenon in the marketplace as more and more companies gear up to serve the little guy.  Philanthropy has also leaped to this innovation and today I became an investor in the Long Tail to reduce poverty around the world.  Perhaps you, as I, have grown frustrated with the large organizations of the world and their inability to reduce poverty in lasting ways.  Massive aid programs solve short term problems, but grinding poverty and lack of opportunity are seemingly insurmountable obstacles to progress.  But today I heard about a site called Kiva that allows me to become a micro-credit lender to a worthy business person on the other side of the world.

Will this small investment change the world?  Perhaps not, but it could make the difference for one family, who because of the success of their business can hire others or purchase goods that raise the economy for those around them.  Sure it’s a small thing for me to invest this money but to tell you the truth, the return on investment here is not in dollars but in hope for a better future.  For those of us who are privileged to work in this industry, who experience opportunity by measures that most of the planet will never see, I believe we must be the change we want to see in the world.

It’s up to you to make it better.