Hi folks: Welcome to Rest of World.
Two weeks before our launch in March, we had to lock the doors to our New York office and scrap all our plans. While we aren’t launching as expected, this pandemic has made clear that our purpose is now especially relevant.
I founded Rest of World to show what happens when technology and human experience collide, in places that are often overlooked and underestimated. And all of a sudden, people from Hong Hong to Harare are more dependent than ever on the particular tech environment they inhabit.
Those differences will shape how every society survives and emerges from this crisis. Because this moment isn’t just about moving your “real” life temporarily online. We’re witnessing the birth of entirely new forms of culture and commerce — whether you’re using WhatsApp, Telegram, Likee, Viber, or Kuaishou.
While it’s surreal to live through a global shared experience, there’s something else. The pandemic confirms, with devastating clarity, how our structural hierarchies of wealth, race, age, and religion lead to disproportionate suffering, and unequal risk.
Technology is — and has always been — a lens to see just that: the challenges as well as the triumphs of human ingenuity, especially in “rest of world” countries that are traditionally written off. Yet those stories have largely gone untold, and the connections unnoticed. So, today, we’re ill-prepared to understand the role that technology will play for billions of people as the pandemic and its economic consequences unfold.
This publication was born from my firsthand experience of seeing these connections, and my wish that others could experience them too—you can read more about that here.
Tech was never a universal, one-size-fits-all endeavor, despite years of industry press suggesting precisely that. Our team is committed to showing instead the remarkable diversity of experiences and outcomes at play from every corner on earth.
Today, we start publishing. Our mission is ambitious, but our pace will be modest to start: We aim to be of service in this critical moment. To our early readers — thank you. We’ll need your help to improve, iterate, and drive this new conversation. So check us out, drop us a note, and tell us what you think we should be covering next.
We’re glad you’re here — now let’s get to work.
May 12, 2020