Just recently, Eric Schmidt visited Nigeria. I will state the obvious for those who may not know. Schmidt is Google's CEO.
What is Google? Try googling it!
Schmidt's visit reminded me of another internet company: Yahoo! Yahoo is a product of Stanford doctoral candidates Jerry Yang and David Filo who tried to make sense of the virtual wild wild west that was the internet then by selecting websites for an alphabetized directory. What you would rarely hear is that:
they kept adding categories and all of a sudden both of them went from doing their graduate work to adding websites to their list for 8 hours a day. As chance would have it, their thesis advisor was on sabbatical, so there was really no one looking after them, so it all worked. Had their advisor been there, it might not have happened. Founders At Work by Jessica Livingston
Yes. It was really two Ph.D students goofing off instead of doing their work.
Google, also was not much different.
Hector Garcia-Molina, one of Page's advisors, agreed that analyzing data about the links was potentially valuable. AltaVista didn't appear to be doing anything with the links other than reporting on them in raw form. Page wanted to dig into links and see how they might be used further. But to test any of his theories, Page would need a big database. Not lacking ambition, he quickly did some calculations and then told his startled Stanford advisor that he was going to download the entire World Wide Web onto his desktop. The Google Story by David Vise with Mark Malseed
That was about Larry Page, co-founder of Google.
What am I saying here? What if these great ideas were heavily swatted by those in authority? We should learn to know that things are not always what they seem. What may appear as goofing off might just be the next big thing. It could be better to let that mosquito buzz than reach for the machete.
Not too long ago, Aaron Schwartz comitted suicide. He is now a martyr. At the risk of making light of his death, I think it opened up a new vista: the little guy fighting dirty like the government (and other very powerful entities). He learnt to use a machete to swat a mosquito or using a buick to swat a fly if you will.
I know that suicide is a one shot weapon like an atomic bomb. Or more, it is one we don't dare use in this part of the world. But think of the posibilities. What if Julian Assange had done same? Or Kim Dotcom? Perhaps petitions would also have been signed by many, paywalls lifted and Kim's surname wouldn't have been DotNZ. You can never know.
Coming back home, I will have you know that the Nigerian government fights dirty. I know when you type 'nigerian', it gets auto-completed with 419. That does not give the government the right to squash anything looking remotely like subterfuge. Think of countries like Switzerland. I know they do not take out ads describing their land as a haven for shady money (Abacha already did that) but do you see them squashing any little attempt at innovation by their banks? Or the USA apologizing for Las Vegas? Let the Middle East think whatever they want, entertainment will be provided for those who can pay for it, Great Satan or not.
Nigeria? Our problem is a little bit worse. If Dora could not find anything salvageable of our image except compel us to avoid the use of '9ja', I think the situation is really bad. So why in a situation like this would we come down like a ton of bricks over some goofing off over a cure for HIV by some lecturer in Benin? Could it be that there is a smidge of an iota of truth in that? I don't really know what happened (mosquitoes feel that way too about being squashed), but it might be that we have annihilated the small chance of another Yahoo! or Google albeit in the medical field.
Perhaps you do not think the government actively squashes glimmers of hope. That might be true. But the lack of action to fan these embers to life beyond a few words by some minister in the press hailing some new tablet by a Nigerian, is a swat that just happened to miss.