If you haven’t seen it, a Reddit user's clear-cut infographic that’s gone viral among economics wonks gives the world’s quickest economics lessons for the 21st century: more than half the globe’s population now lives in that small circle on the map, the center of which lies a bit west of Hong Kong.
While that may come as no surprise--given that China and India have long been the worlds two most populous nations--the map is a simple reminder of the emerging Asian powerhouse. As the continent’s population continues to grow, so will its middle class, its purchasing power, its consumption of resources, its manufacturing capabilities, and its political clout. Will it be at the West’s expense?
But when contextualized with a bit more data, it’s also a reminder that those countries are just getting started. While the circle hosts more than half of the world’s population, only about 1 billion of the world’s roughly 2.5 billion Internet users call it home. In China and India only 38% and 10%, respectively, of the population use the Internet, respectively, as opposed to nearly 80% of Americans.
As more of those countries in the circle begin to follow the lead of uber-connected Japan and South Korea, the economic, social, and cultural transformations will surely snowball, unleashing the creative energy of countless startups, political movements, and cultural producers, the likes of which we are only just starting to see. Think Psy was big in 2012? Think about what will happen when Internet usage in Asia catches up to Europe and the Americas. The number of eyeballs and brains will be mind-boggling.