In the world we live in today, there are many young people out there who may be interested in technology but wonder – what is it like to be in a real technological environment? What is it like to meet real IT giants? What it is like to discuss real issues of the world through the lens of technology?
Well, as one of those young people I was fortunate enough to see all of this last week in Montreal at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) which I attended as a winner of the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam Essay Contest. In this blog, I’m sharing the exciting things I saw and learned.
WCIT 2012 was a worldwide convention that focused on uniting technological visions into global objectives for everyone. I found this gathering to be enlightening and incredible - well worth missing three days of university (I’m sorry, but it’s true).
From the three conference days, there were many sessions I attended that made me ponder global problems and many initiatives brought forward that amazed me. For instance, the Nigerian Minister for Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, demonstrated how cell phones are being given to Nigerians for use in bettering their living circumstances. The government’s program to distribute 10 million cell phones to farmers helps them apply for fertilizer and get important updates on planting seasons.
Aled M. Edwards, founding chief executive of Structural Genomics Consortium, talked about how his consortium of health companies is releasing findings without pursuing time-consuming patents so new medicines can be made available more quickly. The Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili, described his country’s vision for applying ICT in innovative ways across all sectors of society.
Projects like these are already benefiting our world and it made me reflect that specific developed countries aren’t the only ones advancing in technology, as we often assume. There are many other developments in countries like Macedonia, South Africa, Mexico and Malaysia that are making technological progress too.
Overall during the conference, topics of open data, youth and their education, cloud computing, technological integration and digital innovations were constantly brought forward and discussed. These issues are important to the IT industry across many areas because more data is now being collected by governments and businesses and more priority is now being given to developing technology. As well, more youth choosing IT careers are essential to continue swinging the pendulum of the technological economy.
From what I learned, the IT industry has realized that most youth aren’t so keen to go into tech-related careers and they are working to show that these careers are exciting and helping to change the world. Examples like the World Youth Summit Award (WSYA) come to mind, where youth ICT projects that impact the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (UN MDGs) are showcased. Check out student winners at the WSYA website.
Award ceremonies like these, and even contests such as the one I won with CareerMash, are truly helping youth become part of the changes in technology, and it is heartening to imagine what an effect these initiatives will have on our world’s future.
So in summary, I had an extraordinary experience at WCIT - not just learning about the realm of technology, but getting the chance to speak my own thoughts on stage and also practice my French in Montreal. For future conferences, I do hope that the WCIT brings at least one youth’s perspective to the gathering because youth will eventually be the upcoming citizens and leaders of the world one day, and having their opinion beforehand may greatly influence the future of tomorrow.