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Mike Butcher of TechCrunch UK wrote an unusual story about Vipera, a mobile social network aimed at what he calls the ‘developing world.’ I’m not sure I’m happy with his choice of phrase but let that slide a moment. What makes this story unusual is the insight it gives us into the way technology is allowing people to express themselves in ways not possible in the past. To steal directly from Mike’s quote:

jbjolicoeur from Mauritius
The one who invented this software will be blessed forever. There’s something awesome about it. We feel free to express ourselves, people are open and ready to consider our views, etc. Vipera is an instrument of change for the world. After using Vipera you are no longer the same person.

That sounds heartwarming if not in the kind of language we’re used to yet it carries a sense of freedom and passion that is rarely seen in the western hemisphere. That wasn’t what caught my attention. It was the linked story about abuses of human rights as told by local people. 

The story provides extraordinary insights into the world some people have to occupy. You don’t need a translator to get around the ‘pidgin English’ to imagine the events the person describes.

I expect to see more of these kinds of network emerge overtime. They will provide valuable insights into the way things really are in countries with which companies like SAP has dealings. They will inform the way in which business is done but most of all they will provide communities such as this an opportunity to figure out what business processes need putting in place to ensure that assured business occurs with organizations that act in a sustainable manner and with an appropriate respect for human dignity. 

I suggest that without technologies such as Vipera, those shadow worlds would be hidden from us, but they amply demonstrate – if ever one was needed- that social networks are valuable in ways we have yet to fully understand. 

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