From Technology in Tunis...to a Wireless WSIS

Emmanuel.K. Bensah Jr. has 59 followers on Google Buzz

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How Vodafone's Voodoo Crunched My Credit!

Two days ago, I was more than a poster-child for disappointment as I was unable to send my paltry 0.30gp/0.40gp/0.50gp to myself and a friend--just because Vodafone Ghana had not told me that they were working on their transfer credit function.

My friend asked me for a transfer today and I lamented how Vodafone had gone and done voodoo with my credit, wanting me to transfer in denominations of 1ghC!

Well, mystery over: I just got off the toll-free line (in Ghana 101), which is actually that for Broadband services as the 011 was not working, and was duly informed that they will complete work on the 12th!

Here was me thinking that I had gone the way of the fool in believing that they would hold onto some of the gems of the erstwhile Ghana Telecom, such as Live SMS (113) and the famous credit transfer.

Well, looks like they have, but I did suggest next time they better inform us--not just on the radio, which quite a number listen only for a limited time!

By the way, GOOGLE BUZZ is all the rage. Need to spread the word on Google's latest Social networking site. Wonder when Yahoo and/or MSN will follow suit!

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Emmanuel.K. Bensah Jr. has 59 followers on Google Buzz

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome to the Real Three “G”--the Globalised Google Generation!


By E.K.Bensah II

In many more ways than we can imagine, technology has begun to assume a multi-disciplinary approach. In other words, you find that it is associated with, say, the security services (how the police, for example, can make effective use of camera phones and checking traffic infractions; and the service industry (as exemplified by how you can place orders online to have your food delivered, for example).

Only last Saturday, the BBC world service, in its “Heart and Soul” programme looked at the degree to which religion had gone hi-tech to the extent that people were even cyber-worshipping, without the need to step into a physical building. The conclusion the presenter drew was that for all the double-edged swords that come with the web, it continues to offer a platform for freedom of expression of all kinds; in that respect, he averred, it might not be as bad a place to worship as any other.

In my last article, I touched tangentially on the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), without fully going into how ICTs would help serve the organization. In this week's article, I yet again refer to it, albeit superficially, in the context of the multi-disciplinary approach of technology. That I was able to, in two past articles, look at the role of technology as it pertains to both the small and big screen, in my opinion, speaks volumes of how integrated and wired it has become in our lives. What it also does, though, is buttress the multi-disciplinary aspect that has been conferred it.

This hydra-headed element of technology is both interesting and noteworthy. It is interesting because it enhances many facets of our lives; and noteworthy because it makes us pause to reflect and question whether there is sufficient literature on an emerging discipline. Should there be insufficient material out there that pertains to the developing information society of developing countries like that of Ghana, then surely, it behooves not just our ICT practitioners and academics join forces, but also our omnipresent regulators that have taken too much flak for too long to help educate us.

NCA Continues to Fail Ghanaian Consumers!

Let us take the case of the NCA. If we were to visit the website of Independent UK regulator OFCOM at www.ofcom.org.uk the week of 9 March, 2009, we see that it is consumer-oriented, with, inter alia, features on how the global recession will affect consumers; how consumers can make and submit complaints to OFCOM on harmful or offensive material they hear on the radio; research and market data and advice for consumers. Back here in Ghana, never mind that you'll get similar material, you don't even know what website to check the NCA on--is it http://www.nca.innovategh.com/, or the erstwhile http://www.nca.gov.gh? The

fact that there's a new government might be all well and good, but I don't see how the website needs to change from its server each time there is a change in government. If this were the case, then surely the http://www.Ghana.gov.gh portal would be non-functioning; yet the very week the new government came into office, the site was updated!

Still on the multi-disciplinary approach, just as in the face of the global credit crisis, we seem ready to bury globalization and cast it back to the bowels of the earth; it has made me wonder whether it is not analogous to the study of technology?

Cruising to a Google Generation…

At the superficial level, could we not say that like globalization, technology is everywhere we turn--from our mobile handsets to the more-obvious desktop and laptop computers. On another level, could we not surmise that technology has globalised us all? Let's face it: here in Ghana, how many tech-savvy consumers of technology do not own either a YAHOO or GMAIL account--or both, and a Facebook account for good measure? If there is any distinguishing characteristic between me and the average literate [and middle class] Ghanaian, will I not find affinity with them in these three?

For most of us who can remember when Google became a verb (back in 2006), you might note that we never say “I'll MSN/askjeeves/altavista this”; the refrain is all too familiar--“I'll google” this or that. This surely has to be the google generation that never was! But it is also more--it is a google generatiojn that is globalised; globalised because everyone is talking about it.

…that is Globalised?

My only problem with this Globalised Google Generation is that we run the risk of becoming perfunctory beings operating on similar levels of consciousness. Surely the beauty of life is the diversity of it? Why risk becoming imitations of each other when we can become radicalized, different beings? Then I think about the astronomical rise of Facebook, and wonder whether I am truly living in 2009. The Facebook phenomenon has been discussed elsewhere and this column more times than one can imagine, but its phenomenal status cannot -and will not - be sneezed at. Its revolution has not--and will not--be televised.

Long before Facebook came to steal its thunder, MySpace held the fort as the veritable social networking site. These days, it seems to be so old news to even mention it. Yet, when we pause for a nano-second, we realize that there was a rationale for calling it a social networking site. We did not need Aristotle to remind us that man is a social animal before we went out there to start networking and connecting. We have always sought to connect and integrate. Human relationships are perhaps the greatest redemption of our desire to connect, and marriage, as one British commentator Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks said on BBC Radio Four in 2000, is “the greatest redemption of our loneliness”. What technology ultimately does is offer one of many platforms to facilitate socializing and networking--with Facebook taking it to amazing levels.

The Real "three G"

Some mobile providers have forever-talked about offering us 3G services, further connecting us. Some of us--Luddites and all--will choose to opt out; the up-and-coming generation might dig in as if their lives depended on it--till they get bored. Given that there is only so much technology can offer, it has become incumbent on us to find how it can complement--and not serve as a substitute--of our lives. I don't know about you, but in so many ways I am in a paradoxical way happy to be part of what I call the “real three G”: the Globalised, Google Generation.

ENDs

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