Mohamed Bouazizi was selling vegetables from his cart Ben Arous, Tunisia. He had begun to experience intense harassment from public officials because he did not have the funds to bribe them to allow him to sell his goods. They constantly confiscated his only means of making a living despite the fact that no actual permit was needed and no funds need to be paid in order to sell on the street. Eventually this harassment became so bad Bouazizi went to the office of the governor to complain. When the governor refused to see him he shouted, “If you don’t see me I will set myself on fire!” He proceeded to pour gasoline on himself andlit himself on fire, eventually dying of his burns.
The death of Mohamed Bouazizi set off widespread protests throughout Tunisia which eventually caused the president to flee. Bouazizi came to personify the feelings of the youth of the Arab world against the regimes which ruled over them. Throughout the Arab world others began to follow in Mohamed’s act. Most notably was a restaurant owner in Egypt who set himself on fire in front of the Egyptian Parliament and sparked widespread protests throughout the country. These protests eventually led to the ouster of longtime Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
We had a front row seat to a period of revolution that ranks alongside the fall of the Iron Curtain and the French and American revolutions. The world has been forever altered by the deeds of the thousands of protesters who chose to seize their voice and speak against tyranny. The spread of freedom is a contagious thing. Just as the French took inspiration from the American Revolution, others saw the effect in countries like Tunisia and Egypt and freedom spread to other countries like Libya. The fight for freedom continues on, however, on the streets of Syria. Widespread protests continue as violence grows in a futile attempt to stop the activists. The world watches with baited breath as the country wars against the oppressive rule of President Bashar al-Assad. How long till they obtain their freedom? Only one thing is clear. The hope that the Arab Spring brought lives in each of their minds and they will fight until they taste freedom.
Lately I have been looking around and brainstorming a new way by which I could earn some extra cash, but I have been intent on the fact that the process must be enjoyable and further my experience within my disciple. The ideal job I was looking for really centered on a new or innovative opportunity whether self-created or from an outside firm. The only problem is that Cedarville, OH isn’t exactly Silicon Valley and I only have 5-6 months left before I move into real life. Basically, in this environment it was going to be very difficult to find my ideal experience. Then saving grace appeared in the form of one of the shining stars of the startup world, Square Inc.
Jack Dorsey was hot off his success as the creator and co-founder of social network Twitter, when he heard about a dilemma that a friend of his had recently experienced. His friend was an artist and had come across someone who was excited to purchase some of his work. However, because he was a small time merchant he did not accept credit cards and so he lost the sale. Dorsey, who year after year resolves his life to a motto of simplification, saw there had to be a way to make this process easier. He thought that if people have these complex machines in their pockets, in the form of cell phones, then there must be way to harness this power into a solution for the small business owner’s credit card issues. Dorsey created a prototype and Square was born.
Essentially Square is an app based credit card reader. Unlike conventional credit card readers it does not require a high start up cost, expensive reader, or ongoing fees. Instead Square Inc. allows the user to download their application for free to iOS and Android devices, ships a free card reader to the user, and, instead of high fees, takes a fee of 2.75% per transaction with no obligation or long term contract. Merchants simply swipe the credit card, allow the user to sign directly on the device, send an electronic receipt and the money is routed to a bank account which the user has set up to receive credit funds.
As for my role with this company, I have been hired for 5-6 months to be part of the first class of a new marketing/sales program at Square called SquareU. My job is simple. Sign up new users whether that be at universities, local businesses, or events. This being my new job I will obviously be posting about it and its exciting future on my site. So please continue to look for more information and if you are interested in how you yourself can use Square to accept funds whether it be to collect rent, accept payments, or simply to use as it is needed please feel free to contact me. I am excited to be a part of the team at Square and interested to gain this experience as I continue to add experience as I transition into the “real world”.
Today the digital world is focusing on two bills which are currently before Congress, SOPA and PIPA (Intellectual Property Version of SOPA). The Stop Online Piracy Act is a bill which has the aim of stopping online piracy from foreign websites within the United States and holds sites which are found to be in violation (whether purposely or by accident) liable. For example if someone uploads a song by U2 to their Tumblr, Tumblr can be held responsible. Many people see this as a violation of the way in which the web works, a place where people can share with each other. In 1998 Congress approved another bill which had the aim of stemming the growth of online piracy, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Essentially this act expects that when YouTube or Tumblr is asked to remove something due to infringement, they will, in good faith, do so. The reason that this is bad is, first, because this would represent wide spread censorship of the Internet by the United States government. This takes away the beauty of the right of free speech and starts down a road that has limited many other nations in the online world. Secondly, it is an attack on the websites which help the web to run. YouTube, for example, will investigate and censor content which is pirated based on requests by copyright owners. They do this “in good faith”. The government will now make them liable for this whether that be financially or criminally. This limiting of the content providers on the Internet is not a good omen for the future of the web and so it is important to petition our lawmakers to adopt other legislation such as the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act.
The web is a powerful tool for interaction and lately it has come to my attention that I need to make more of an effort to be involved in the digital eco-sphere. So I am picking up again on my Tumblr as a way by which to share thoughts about our world, generation, and everyday life. Its a fun and exciting beginning to a new chapter and I am looking forward to deeper interaction online with others. I am christening Tumblr as my home base for this venture and will be posting interesting did bits about business, design, our changing world, etc. I hope that you all enjoy and please if you have a Tumblr, let me know so I can begin to listen to your voice as well! Here we go!