Why the digital revolution has not really transformed society

It is us, humans, who have the intrinsic and autonomous power to utilise and shape the digital revolution and therefore to transform society and not vice versa.

My conviction was this morning re-affirmed when I read a blog post on @PMARCA SAYS titled “The 40 year collapse of trust in print news”. Read post

The primary power to transform society still remains within the human beings who use machines; set up the websites; manage websites; and legislate the use of digital technology. For example, if you are going to influence society, knowing the keywords to include in your story that will make your story to likely be noticed by a search engine is important. As is the case with all other machines, computers are mechanical – they process and retrieve information mechanically, without passion. It is the user’s passion that is contained in the words that a computer stores, retrieves and shares; the passion is not of the computer, but that of the human beings who input the words into the computer. The use of digital technology is not ethically or morally neutral – the information that is fed into the machines is of man and it is man who selectively inputs this information into the machines. It is HIStory.

Yesterday, I worked from home and I was using three different laptops at the same time. One, so that I kept up with Skype, Face Book, Twitter, Linkedin, emails, blogs; another for reviewing our company’s financial statements – in Excel version; and another for reconciling our financial records in Quick Books with our financial statements in Excel. Clearly, in this case the digital revolution has changed the way in which we work and the way in which we use spaces – work at home and when at work have a bit of home with you, say on your screen saver.

The children of the digital era are ‘dot.com’ children who neither speak Ateso nor any other Ugandan or East African language. The language of the ‘dot-com’ children would have earned them serious punishment during colonial Africa, when the likes of Ngugi wa Thiong’o attended school. The ‘dot.com’ child shortens English words and uses numbers with English letters to form words. The word ‘for’ may be reduced to just ‘4’ or the words ‘see’ and ‘sea’ to ‘C’ or the words ‘to’ and ‘too’ to ‘2’, or the word ‘you’ to just ‘U’, for example. A text message from a ‘dot.com’ child might read: “Luk 4wad 2 c u.” The colonial teachers of English in Africa must be turning in their graves.

These extracts that I have shared in this blog post are from an opinion that I authored for the Inter Regional Economic Network (IREN), titled: “Digital revolution and the power to shape and transform society”, which in 2012 they published in the digital magazine “The African Executive”. Read opinion

My decision to share these extracts is to re-affirm that while I like the efficiency with which I work with digital machines, it is not the machine that possess the intellectualism and emotion that I convey. How we use machines is dependant on our wider socialisation. That the ‘dot.com’ children have come up with their own way of using the English language tells us more about how they have been socialised and not about the capabilities of digital machines to transform society.

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One comment

  1. Norah Owaraga · · Reply

    Our socialisation determines how we use the digital revolution – how to loose friends on social media http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-abbady-facebook-defriend-politics-20140810-story.html

    Like

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