THE POWER OF INFORMATION TO OUR GENERATION
Couple of weeks ago, I heard over the news, the Turkish president has banned twitter in Turkey following his alleged dissemination of propaganda message against his government. Well this sounded funny the first time I heard it. I thought to myself, so now we find ourselves in an era where the government is scared of information more than weapons overthrowing government. Look at how the power of information incited the youth of the Arab world to fight for the government of their choice. Egypt, Algeria and Libya had all experience this modern revolution. These are clear examples of how much information can incite society to cause massive change in the lives of its citizen.
In today’s world we drink, eat and breathe information. Information can save lives. Information can lead someone to the gas chamber. It is both the devil and an angel to man depending on what side you find yourself. Information leads a man to betray his best friend to satisfy a selfish ambition. Well, the story goes on and on. Information some say is what make the world go round. We know how the likes of C.I.A (Central Intelligence Agency) consider information so critical. This explains why some political acts of smuggling classified information to enemy power are sometime punishable by death. This was common during the Cold War era of the 1960s between America and the Soviet Union. During this period, spies were trained to syphon classified information through undisclosed contacts, which mostly contained nuclear weapon, missile programs and military training programs of the enemy power. This was the most dangerous profession at the time. Because it had two ramifications: either you succeeded stealing intelligence information and got honored as a hero by your home country, or you got busted by enemy power and faced death penalty. So it was seen as a dangerous profession to be a spy in those days, betraying and stealing information from one country to another. However, these people were specially trained and they knew how to go about their job.
Our world today is shaped by how much information is at our disposal. To succeed in anything you must be well informed with the right information. To learn how to use a new phone or television, you must read a manual. To learn how a system works you need to be equipped with information. Basically, everything works and is understood by man by way of how much information about it is available. We cannot ignore the fact that information plays part of our daily lives
The blessing of information to our generation
Luckily for us, we find ourselves as part of a generation that is way advanced and ahead of its time due to technological inventions. The world today is called a global world. What one country does in a corner of the globe affects or influences the lifestyle of the people of an isolated island somewhere on the planet. This has made humanity more civilized and aware of opportunities within its environment. All this can be attributed to the power of information. The sophistication of information today has even made it far easier to access and disseminate it with less stress. Talk of emails, social media, fax, kindles, text messaging, etc. Through these means information can spread so fast around the world with the twinkle of an eye. Currently the most advance means by which information circulates is the internet. However, we cannot deny the fact that this advancement has led to disadvantages. The promotion of social vices is spreading so fast on the internet. Gambling and pornography. A BBC research showed that Devon Police force in Britain’s computer systems prevented access to pornography nearly 700 times and gambling more than 2,000 times between June and August 2013. So information comes with its good and bad side that society has to handle.
Information and the Internet
When asked what was the most important invention of the 20 century? 7% said the telephone, 11% said the television and 80% said the internet. Currently, there are over 1.5 billion people connected to the internet, sharing or receiving different kinds of information. Information is what makes the internet what it is today, without information there will be no news, advertisement, career opportunities, etc. The amount of information running through the internet is so much that it causes what we call information overload. With the increase in globalization, more people are connected to the internet each day. This has led to the traffic or jamming of information processing, as more people are using it for different purposes like social media, blogging or research work. In 1997, study showed that over 5O % of management of fortune 1,000 companies were disrupted more than six times an hour by the emails they were receiving. This shows how much information is circulating today on the internet on daily basis.
A way of making money?
Do you know about this? Hundreds of billions of dollars are being made annually through the circulation of information online. Currently, over 80% of the world’s richest people of the 21st century made a fortune by manipulating information. Known as Information Technology today, people have taken great advantage of it to create a fortune for themselves. Just by disseminating, packaging, sharing and sophisticating information, people are able to transform their lives within months. When you talk about Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, names like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin crop up. All these people had a common dream, to use the power of information to transform lives. Today, we all attest to this life transforming experience by how much we enjoy Facebook, Google etc. for our business and social activities day in day out. Yes and we owe a lot of gratitude to the individuals who made this a possibility through their sacrifice and ingenuity.
Information deficiency and dealing with it
It is said that the amount of information circulating a popular newspaper today is almost equal to the information an average man was exposed to his entire life in the 16th century. My point here is, with all the information this generation is blessed with, why should people complain about economic hardship or financial problem when information, as rich as it could ever be is within our grasp, as a generation and we are refusing to take advantage of it. Currently, more than 90% of self-employed people own their own online businesses and they are making a lot of money just by working with information through the internet. Talk about e- commerce, network marketing and advertisement, blogging, social media and the like. People have realize that information is all that matters in this generation and therefore getting it to the right people at the right time is all one can do to make money in today’s competitive global economy.
So after thinking about it, I have come to understand that the true barrier of development between developed and developing countries is not the resources or military power but the amount of useful information that is readily available to society. Why do I say this? It is simple, have you tried getting information about how something work and you really struggled to get the very little. How frustrating that is. Our leaders have suppressed the information and are unwilling to share with us. We live in a part of the world(Africa to be specific) where people are unwilling to share their secret to succeeding in all aspects of life with society because they fear their ideas will be stolen or imitated, and they might lose their source of income or integrity should they release such personal information. This is totally wrong because, this is what has transformed the western world. I was amazed how much people share their business ideas, knowledge, skill and expertise for free just for others to benefit as open information easily accessible to all. One example I can clearly recollect, a top CEO’s YouTube video I saw the last time. It was very inspiring to see such a noble and successful manager, filming himself in his car on how to market your business to get the right customers to buy your goods. This is what the difference is between us and the developed world. The free sharing and access to the right information for the lay man to access and transform his personal life.
In the USA for example, access to information has contributed to the development of the human capacity. Today, the lay American has a basic idea about almost everything. From how to drive to how to fold a neck tie. They call is educate yourself, forget about politicians and government. Websites like Wikihow, Answers.com, Wikipedia, YouTube are but a few of such information resource centres that people post tutorial lessons, videos and other very useful information on how to live and do basic things in our day to day life. So you realize that the little kid on the streets of New York is so well informed and has a fair knowledge about basic things about life due to the amount of information he or she is exposed to.
This is a different story here in Africa, and Ghana to be precise. People don’t even read to get informed. We just live by how the day comes and go. We are ill informed about basic things that are very critical to our daily survival: history, culture, education, health, etc. People are dying of curable diseases because nobody informs them about an NGO that provides free medical healthcare. Students are unable to further their education because nobody informs them of a scholarship program being offered by a higher institution. Businesses are collapsing because nobody informs these managers about what right steps to take to succeed. Yes that is the world we find ourselves in. A world where information is almost non-existent and inaccessible to the lay man. For the lack of information our people perish. Information that could save lives, improve living conditions and create a better future for us all is being suppressed by the very people who claim to be our leaders.
We must resolve this disease of ignorance, break barriers of free flow of information and we must transform our society by getting everybody informed. Our leaders must share their ideas and knowledge with the youth. Let us learn from each other by getting informed and informing others. Let us create the platform that will allow us to receive and share information that will improve lives and make our world better more convenient place to live. Thank God for the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who is introducing internet.org in the next few years to help developing countries like ours to access the internet for information on basic healthcare, education, social life and economy at very affordable price. Let us take our own steps and initiatives to transform our society today. Let us take advantage of this age of information technology to create a better generation that is well informed. A developed society is an informed society!
Harold Owusu Amoo