Technology Facilitates Community-Media Convergence
Broadly speaking, “community” can mean a locality, a school, a vocation, even an entire ethnic group or religion – any group bound by a common interest or condition. It may be small, it may be big. The fact is, we all belong to many communities at the same time. Some even overlap because they share a common vision, idea or platform. Conversely, this overlapping could also be because of disagreement.
A community on the Internet is likewise a group of people with something in common, getting together or collaborating in a particular area of cyberspace.
Lately, this definition is even expanding. It is because an Internet community takes on a new life of its own; it almost shares the personalities of the members. Therefore, a “community” in a connected world, means an assemblage of persons who share a common stage (cyberspace) and are willing to share ideas, no matter how divergent or not their ideas may be.
I have always held the opinion that the convergence of all the media forms on the Internet will happen faster than anticipated. There is even a prediction that the last newspaper will be produced in April 2040. This may be true because many newspapers today have their online versions, which can be accessed either by paying to read them online or they are totally free. Radio stations are all thinking of or are already streaming live on the Internet (webcasting/netcasting). On a continent like the one I come from (Africa), I observe with pleasure the webcast craze among radio stations. Television stations are also not left out in the convergence equation. They are also streaming and it’s too obvious to talk about photojournalism and its presence on the Net. In my view, connecting digital services to physical communities has become a must. This convergence that will lead ultimately to real physical “community” is, however, fraught with difficulties. In Africa, the convergence is plagued with bandwidth limitations, lack of modern computers, lack of technical expertise to handle what’s available, etc.
For this community to be achieved, training is needed for media handlers to understand their unique role in ensuring a smooth and cost-effective transition. Websites must be professionally produced and managed. Interactivity must be a key feature on websites. I hope to learn more about website management, online content handling, keeping up to date with new technology and ultimately build bridges (contacts) for my professional career and that of my organization.
Isaac A. TETTEH
Web Master/News Editor/PR
Radio Gold 90.5 Fm Accra, Ghana.