I have seen few videos which are as inspiring as Usman Riaz’s talk on TED. To give you a quick profile, Usman Riaz is a young Pakistani musician from Karachi, coming from a well-known family with a creative background in various performance arts. He plays many different instruments, and was classically trained to play the piano ever since he attained the age of 6, because, fortunately, his father recognized his aptitude to do something great in this field. And he did. He got selected by the US State Department for a cultural exchange programme, became a TED Fellow and even performed alongside his idol, the man he revered when he first picked up the guitar, Preston Reed. But the most astonishing fact is that he learnt all that he has, from the internet. All of us have wireless internet connections at home and use it every day to disseminate information but Usman Riaz has taken it one step further. He says, “As time went by, it became easier for me to pick up things from the internet” He continues, “And why just stop there? Why limit myself? Why not use all of this instrumental knowledge that I’m acquiring to write my own music?” And he did just that and wrote an orchestra piece called ‘Circus in the Sky’.
Not satisfied with that he goes on, “Why not use the internet to learn something a bit more obscure, like body percussion?” But it doesn’t end here. He then talks about how he used the internet to fulfill his original purpose, that of learning many different instruments such as the mandolin and the mouth organ. He also played a clip of a video in which he featured, with different people playing eclectic instruments and even thumping floorboards to create a piece of music whose beats get your blood pumping.
The internet has ushered in an era of technological change where knowledge is available at our fingertips. We can do wonderful things with it, if we put our minds to it. The YouTube revolution has changed the world as we know it. Now aspiring musicians, dancers, film makers, artists, even chefs need not stand in queues outside dusty halls or smoke-filled kitchens to be given a chance to showcase their talent to the world. They can reach millions of viewers at the click of a button. Ambitious writers can start their own personal blogs, be active in the ‘blogosphere’ and take their writing to new audiences. The internet is our new lord and master. It is a vast cesspool of potential greatness; learn how to use it effectively and the world is your oyster. The question remains, can we use as productively as Usman Riaz has?
The link to his talk on TED:
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