David Christian talks about collective learning in his lecture series titled ‘Big History’. He posits that the thing that made humans survive and prosper was their ability to use symbolic language to learn collectively. The contents of this collective learning survives the death of peoples and moves onto the next generation passing the technological and spiritual gains won into the future. 

So the internet of things is augmenting the collective learning process to dizzyingly absurd speeds and heights. How is this impacting Nigeria?

Well in 2014, 9 million new Nigerian Internet users came online. That’s 9 million new brains entering the collective learning slipstream. I wonder how that impacts development, transparency of the national budget process, agriculture, education etc. I wonder how many new tweets were added to the global twitterings, I wonder how many google searches took place.

I believe collective learning is accelerating and people funding development should take note, or the money they pour into development programmes will miss a big opportunity for big impact. Big companies like google have plans for getting everybody online through innovations such as server balloons high up in the atmosphere - Project Loon.


The internet will be free and ubiquitous even to young girls in Northern Nigeria. If you’re a development worker and thinking linearly you are going to be off mark in terms of the sudden giant jumps forward in health, education and finance we will be witnessing in the coming ten years. What will be the impact of 3D printing on a village in Anambra state? Could we deploy one which prints copies of itself to be distributed throughout the region. Then they start printing parts to enhance farming, such as better tools, engine parts. Print water purifiers augmenting health. Print efficient electric stoves. Printing waka waka solar lights. Printing objects to sell and barter locally. The mind boggles.

See video on collective learning below. The entry point of the video is where they start to talk about collective learning. It's fast and entertaining, so enjoy.