Week 5: Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s required course work, I independently viewed the film “Linking Africa: The Future Is Digital” by Films Media Group, listened to the podcast “Mass Media and Democracy” by Folu Ogundiumu and read the works “The Media in Social Development in Contemporary Africa” by John Middleton & Kimani Njogu and lastly, “Twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria: Investigating Pragmatic Acts in the Social Media” by Innocent Chiluwa and Adetunji Adegoke. I will go through each work independently and pose questions regarding the significance of the work in developing a deeper understanding as to the place of Africa in a changing world.

The film “Linking Africa: The Future Is Digital” by Films Media Group will be watched in lecture this week- but I have additionally chosen to watch and reflect on it my own as I found it to be a moving representation of the transitions to a technological state seen in Africa. This week’s topics of digital media and emerging technologies are especially highlighted in this video. In learning about African innovations like mobile money and the TRAC Net System, we are exposed to the ever-changing landscape of the continent as an IT super center. By working past the common misconceptions of Africa as a ‘stagnant’ and never changing country, we are showed the real truth seen in the emergence of ‘western’ based technology companies looking to Africa for inspiration. Prior to watching this video in class were you aware of the growing size of people involved in projects of technological advancement in Africa? Were you surprised to hear about Rwanda’s Vision 2020 and the interconnectedness of its city centers through ‘blanketed wireless hotspots’? Do you agree with the implementation of computers and computer lessons in schools that are not primarily equip with proper sanitation facilities (i.e. lack washroom systems and do not have running water) or basic electricity?

 To learn more about the SEACOM project that is working to connect the eastern coast of Africa, visit the website: http://seacom.mu/services-solutions/

This map shows the pathway of future communication lines via hand laid cable.  http://seacom.mu/

This map shows the pathway of future communication lines, via hand laid cable.
http://seacom.mu/

The podcast “Mass Media and Democracy” by Folu Ogundiumu takes a historical and media based approach to deconstructing the place of ‘modern day’ technology development in Africa. In listening to how media can play a role in changing the political landscapes of countries, we can begin to understand just how important liberal right to freedom of speech are in achieving democracy. Like the example seen in the above noted video, African innovations like the use of SMS Media systems can be used to send out a mass release of information to all subscribers, as if it was an emergency service center. In educating the population about current events, people become more engaged in daily activities and a sense of transparency becomes achieved. In using media as an outlet for free expression, we are seeing the emergence of a more deeply engaged age of people. Even those who live in remote areas are now being given access to information through the use of technology, and no longer have to travel the physical distance to state their opinions or learn about current events. In listening to this podcast did you previously associate technology with the development of democratic states? After listening, do you think that the traditional forms of media release (newspapers and radios) will be lost in the transition to the ‘internet’ age? How have we seen this transition here at home- think of newspapers creating mobile applications rather than cutting their production as a whole.

 Here is the link to the podcast for future reference: http://afripod.aodl.org/tag/folu-ogundimu/.

“The Media in Social Development in Contemporary Africa” by John Middleton and Kimani Njogu works to scrutinize the distinctions and intersectional development that is seen between the implementation of media and its impact on social identities and development in Africa. In reading this work we further learn how media can take on many shapes and roles within society. In using the spreading of information to educate and communicate with groups of people, media is playing a large part in Africa’s contemporary development. Middleton and Njogu distinguish between three main forms of media in this work: mass communication media, interpersonal media and ‘small’ media. In learning about the distinctions and similarities of each, we can learn about the roles that they play in conjunction with the media. The quote, “If communication is the lifeblood of human interaction, the media constitute the veins through which it flows,” represents the true interdependency that communication and media have on one another. Do you agree with this representation that Middleton and Njogu used in stating the impetrative nature of one node on the other? Or do you think that communication and media can stand-alone?

Lastly the work of “Twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria: Investigating Pragmatic Acts in the Social Media” by Innocent Chiluwa and Adetunji Adegoke was read. In this article we learn about the affect that the online community has had on adding ‘real-time’ feedback to breaking news type situations. This work specifically focused on Boko Haram and their place within Nigerian Society. By using Twitter as a means of ‘citizen’ journalist reporting, we were able to see how viewing tweets and comments can be used as a platform for determining public engagement and participant views on the situation. This form of ‘micro-blogging’ has proved to be widely informative and the authors have been able to adequately interpret the pragmatic acts present. After reading this work, what were your thoughts about using social media as a stage for citizen based reporting? In a local context, how have we seen Twitter and other forms of social media used to share opinions on news stories?

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