Week 5 – Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

Breeanna Campbell – 110671150

This week was a particularly interesting topic, regarding the media and “emerging technologies” in contemporary Africa. More specifically, concepts of social media and their relation to democracy and developement are explored.

The podcast Mass Media and Democracy with Professor Folu Ogundimu, Peter Limb and Olabode Ibironke discusses how social media (and other mass media) may be linked to the development and progression of democracy. There are many debates around this topic, however. How much can social media and its outlets really do in creating lasting change? Given the numerous restricts (such as character limits in Twitter blogs), it is unclear if these tools are able to make a difference in a positive manner, and not add to societal gaps and facilitate disorganized, unproductive programs… But rather, facilitate a platform to increase freedom of speech and amplify citizen’s important voices.

This concept is further addressed in the article Twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria: Investigating Pragmatic Acts in the Social Media. This article illustrates the importance of social media for the purpose of citizen empowerment and political development (in the form of platforms, and political education/knowledge). Social media is also able to help organize, facilitate, report on and navigate through social movements and social “revolutions”.

As the last article suggests, the media can play a large role in social development in contemporary Africa (as the title of this next article also proposes – The Media in Social Development in Contemporary Africa). Media is a driving force towards the mobilization of information and ideas in Africa. This article raised many questions for me, including: how would Africa change if all the media was privatized?

Is social media really making footprints in the right direction? The realm of social media is built upon fast moving data and information, with virtually no revisions or proof to provide context or positioning for the notions addressed. Perhaps, in one sense, this can be compared to large media outlets in the West – for example – who are criticized for publishing articles and issues without fully understanding the context and religious background that is it positioned within. Is this moving towards a more democratic world?


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