Two weeks before I left my home country to study at the U.S, the Mongolian government and a local startup were about to launch “UBike” — a docked bike sharing service app, initially with 100 bikes in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Known as the most polluted city, this move was a step towards being more green and advancing technologically. It was the first of its kind in terms of sharing services. Compared to China’s armada of bikes and Silicon Valley’s dockless scooters, bikes, and what-nots, it was a small step, but a step nonetheless. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to ride one of those. Before I even had a moment to realize, I was already about to board on my next flight, flying through half of the globe. I landed in Washington D.C. and was picked up by my parents’ friends. My back was already begging for a bed after that long flight. After recovering from my 13-hour jet-lag, I was meeting up with my old classmates in D.C, zooming through Downtown on electric scooters at 15mph. Meanwhile, back at home, I heard people were breaking down those docked bikes for who knows what reasons, like sabotaging the GPS, breaking the handlebars and seats.
New technology was being built in Mongolia to help us in our daily lives in Mongolia. Yet, we would still queue up for simple bank transactions that could be done on their mobile phones with a few swipes and swiggles. Great solutions and simpler pathways were being constructed next to us but we still were stuck to our old, familiar ways. Today, it is not that the technology is outdated in my hometown, rather people’s perspective and takes on it was. But soon I realized it was not only Mongolians who had these problems. It was just yesterday that I knew my roommate from Chicago hasn’t been aware of the electric scooters and dockless rental bikes right outside our dorm. So, I decided to drag him down on one of the scooters and zip around town together rather than call an Uber or walk. It was so fun watching him first being scared to speed up on those scooters to him getting cocky and taunting me to catch up to him.
“I had not known about these! Oh, I wish I had earlier.”
-James (My roommate)
Whether it was being late for class, surfing through campus or avoiding the last few summer days of Nashville heat, these new tech were under-appreciated even here.
However, tech isn’t always the solution to our problems. It can become one.
I want to introduce the concept of such technologies, whether it be a new mobile app or a revolutionary biological enhancement. I don’t expect to convert you all into tech-savvies by the time you finish my blogs but rather be aware of what is available, create an objective view (not really… I’m really biased) of what is what, and hopefully motivate some of us to take it a step further and build the next big tech buzz. But don’t take me as this “messiah of technology and innovation”. I’m just a college freshman who is happy to live in this generation full of possibilities.
I am happy because when I’m late for my 8AM class, I can easily rent a bike with my phone within seconds and cut through the horde of baggy-eyed college students and get to class in time.
I am happy because I can order that one drone I really needed from the Internet and get it from my dorm in two days.
I am happy because my love of computers and coding spurred online. I learnt how to code through online courses, making mistakes and trying out cool projects thanks to the Internet.
I am happy because I can learn about almost anything within minutes, all with the help of my phone or laptop. Whether it is a math (or almost any other subject) lesson that you missed or didn’t fully understand in class, there’s Khan Academy. One cool thing about it, it’s all free and open to everyone! It doesn’t matter if you’re a college senior revising for her math exams or a teenage boy in Mongolia learning about programming because it sounded interesting, Khan Academy is only one of many resources with the initiative of spreading knowledge and power out there. It simply doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from anymore. As long as you’re connected to this huge web called the Internet, there is a chance for you to grow and learn, but also contribute and spread the knowledge with everyone else.
This generation promises a lot of things (but it also doesn’t). We are missing it by the minute. If innovation was a marathon, I want to be the guy that brings a bottled water and directions for you. It is impossible to be the winner of this race but at least we can try to run together, happy and well-informed. I will be covering topics as big as the Internet to what apps I use as a college student on this blog. So next time we realize that we are late for something important, remember that there might an electric scooter right next to us, waiting for us to unlock it and whizz through town. And if you don’t have that option in your town or city, why not make one?