Tina Rosenberg: Can Text Messaging Save Indigenous Languages?
To understand how, Rosenberg says we have to consider how N'Ko languished in academia for decades before being embraced—thanks to collective pressure—as a simple-to-learn text language. Now, you can read books and newspapers in N'Ko online. You can even take N'Ko classes in Brooklyn. If plans go through with a text messaging version, it could change millions of lives for the better: text messaging could act as a lifeline to medical knowledge, crop prices, and even banking. Thinking ahead, Microsoft has already built N'Ko into Windows 8.
A keen observer of human nature, Rosenberg's latest book, Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World, looks at the immense power of collective social action. What we are now seeing is peer pressure on a larger, societal scale. Once seen as a disruptive vessel of foreign influence, technology, Rosenberg points out, is now being used to preserve language, crystallize culture, and celebrate the things that make us the most human.