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ReAThoughtProvokingArticleOnAfricaWebContent | ... in the spirit of service


(from the list of my contributions to the Africa_web_content_owner (AWCO) list; source: AWCO archives)

[africa_web_content_owner] Re: A Thought Provoking Article on Africa Web Content
Jan 8, 2000

Interesting questions and thoughts, Mussah. It prompts a couple of quick thoughts which address only part of what you bring up, but may prompt further comment from other list members:

1) Might collaboration across borders in Africa (by GOs, NGOs, and perhaps regional groupings such as ECOWAS & SADC) be a key to a stronger African presence on the net? Cyber-balkanization (and it's NGO equivalent) would seem to be a sure setup for failure.

2) It seems that if poor countries such as in Africa, focus on trying to keep pace with industialized ones in terms of text based web content, there is not much hope. This doesn't mean to give up, by any means, but I wonder if newer technologies might change the picture quite rapidly if those interested in African web content are able to take advantage of them. Here thinking primarily of: a) computer-aided translation software - a certain amount of effort inthis direction could instantly make large volumes of English language info available in other languages (as it already does for French and Portuguese, for example, with crude-but-improving sites such as AltaVista's Babelfish) and b) audio files - could this technology in effect bring oral traditions full circle? I.e., a vast amount of audio (+video?) material could theoretically be produced and put on the web where it could hopefully be accessed by increasing numbers of people on the continent & around the world. This would not replace the need for text based info (which can still be worked on) but allow Africa to have a much greater presence in a bourgeoning multifaceted global information-base.

Hope this is of interest.

> My lecturer said that IT woulds speed up the economic development of
> developming countries as in the case of Asia. I am inclined to agree
> with him but fear that the that the lack of grounded cultural identiy
> in Africa may lead to a development that is purely based on Western
> cultural needs.
> As a student studying the International Communications and Development,
> I am studying the globalisation of the media and telecommunications.
> Born and breed in western culture, I have taken some of these things
> are taken for granted. The physical technological benefits of the free
> market and liberal communication policies as increasing our freedom to
> view what we as consumers want. We have control! Or do we? For me, we
> are feed what we think we need not necessarily what will promote our
> true cultural identity.
> I am inclined to agree with Mike that the flow of information flows
> from North to South an there is a need for Africa to develop its own
> information resources. Global Communiations is here and Africa will
> remain the reciepient of western ideals as long as information flowing
> from Africa is of no economical value. Information is a tradeable
> product, and until Africa promotes it as such, we will continue to lag
> behind in the Global Infromation Society.
> Mussah

Don Osborn osborndo@...
"A superficial culture, unsupported by a cultivated morality, is
as `a confused medley of dreams.'" `Abdu'l-Baha (1876)

"The rise and fall of images of the future precedes or accompanies
the rise and fall of cultures." Frederick Polak (1960)

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