Mobile Phones and the Karachi Barbers

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Mark Pesce:

“The mobile frees the market from a place, attaching it to a person.  In Karachi, barbers have always had to rent an expensive stall in the pubic markets to ply their trade.  When Pakistan crossed over into of hyperconnectivity, a different kind of commerce became possible.  An enterprising barber can buy a bicycle and a mobile, printing signs reading “FOR A HAIRCUT CALL 03XX-YYYYYYYYY”, and post these throughout the city.   Clients contact the barber directly, mobile-to-mobile, receiving on-call service in their homes.  Everyone is better served by this relationship: the client gets a shave at a time and location of their own choosing; the barber cuts his own costs dramatically, while establishing a closer relationship with his clientele.  For the ancient market civilizations of South Asia, this displacement of place by person means that the market has altered permanently because of hyperconnectivity.  The intersection of commerce and society has suddenly become something quite different.” (


Book: The Next Billion Seconds. Mark Pesce.