Friday, 20 July 2012

Subscriptions, Feeds and Syndication

Subscriptions, feeds and alerts are ways that online users can get news right from the source instead of them going online to seek out news. The benefit is that users get to cut down on time they spend online. RSS feeds, Alerts, and other subscriptions enable the news you want to come to you directly in your mailbox when available.

All the user does is subscribe or click a link to join an emailing list and then all the news, articles and information that the user would normally seek out to come to them directly in their mailboxes. Basically, these tools change the way we view the internet further more. From you going online to look for information to you sitting back and having the information you want come to you!

Hosted Services

Hosted services refers to online services that users can use online using online software and network servers that are not their own. The social media tool, Facebook, is an example of a hosted service. The term “services” refers to existing websites that offer these tools and often hosts them on their own servers.

The major concern about hosted services is the security and safety of these services. How safe is the information shared on the net? It is such issues that really bring into question the costs and benefits of web 2.0 tools.

Group Productivity and Collaboration Tools

Group productivity and collaboration can be greatly enhanced using social media tools. Tasks such as managing, supervising, and group work can easily be done using many different tools available in social media. Among the most commonly used tools by individuals and organizations are email, instant messaging (IM), and blogs. All these are tools to help organizations work more efficiently and effectively. More tools exist that can help in project management and development. Tools such as wikis can be used for collaborative work by between two or more people in different locations.

All these tools enable work to be done across different locations. The common name used for these tools is the term ‘Groupware’. From the term itself, you get an understanding to say it has to do with groups working together, or simply, collaborating.

Current Issues and New Ideas

With this new tool that practically brings the world together, web 2.0 tools provide the world with massive opportunity and potential. Its possibilities are limitless and well unimaginable right now. Experts predict that users will influence how and where we go from here with regards to the web. In recent times, mobile phones and other mobile devices have been seen to influence a lot of innovations and designs. This trend is set to continue, and possibly grow as the numbers of mobile phone and mobile device users grow. The evolution of the web is in our hands and will eventually evolve in ways that perhaps we cannot even begin to imagine.

The influence of mobile devices has seen new concepts of designs, with concepts of such innovations like geo-tagging. This innovation enables users to locate one another using mobile devises such as mobile phones. With technology like this, users can now simply locate anyone in the world if they allow it. It is such new additions to the web that have resulted in the development of a concept called web 3.0. This idea represents the next dimension of web evolution. It suggests and brings into light some possible landmark innovations that will be used in the near future on the internet. Though not clearly defined, it gives us a feel of where we may be going with regards to web evolution.

Privacy, Intellectual Property and access to Social media

Wikipedia defines privacy the ability of an individual or group to keep their lives and personal affairs out of public view, or to control the flow of information about them. One huge issue that always comes into perspective is on how social media affects personal or organisational privacy. From concerns on the use of intellectual property to the general security concerns that arise when one shares content on the web, social media has its fair share of challenges.

Basically, if one is going to have their information on the internet, they need to be careful what they share, copyrighted information may be safer to share but they is no guarantee that everyone out there will respect that copyright. Therefore while, they may be many ways of getting your work licensed, there is no way of ensuring 100% that it is kept safe from plagiarism.

Another aspect that social media brings out is the inequality that exists in the world when it comes to internet access and the use of social media tools. It has been observed that while western countries and most parts of Asia have greatly benefited from social media tools, many other parts of the world, mostly in Africa still remain in the dark and are virtually non-existent. This lack of access to social media tools has caused a great disparity between those that are able to use these tools and those that are not.

Social Networking Sites and Communities

Social networking sites are a sub-group of social media tools that enable one to connect and network with far more people than would be possible without online social media. Social networking enables communication and networking even at an international level. With social media, we are able to put up our own personal or organisational profiles online. These can be made available for anyone to read from wherever they are in the world. With such tools available to us all, it has now become a necessity for everyone to have an online presence; if you are not online, it is safe to say, you simply do not exist in this technical era! This is how much social media tools like social networking sites have revolutionised the world.

Social networking sites are of different types; from the professional networking sites like LinkedIn, to the more general sites like Facebook. There is always something for every need, whether one is looking to simply network on a professional level, or it’s for a more personal social reason. The right sites for you will depend on what you intend to achieve by joining the social networking site. A wide variety of ways are used to communicate through social media, from blogs to vlogs, from chats to discussion forums; all these are made available on different social networking sites.

The basic benefit to an individual or an organisation is increased audience for what you do, who you are, etc. Without interaction, you’re limited as to what you may know or be able to do. Through social networking sites, individuals and organisations can get to have their own online presence and spread information about them. Further, organisations can also use this tool to get feedback on their services or products from customers, clients, and anyone who’d want to share their thoughts. This feedback can then be used to improve where needed or to simply get ideas for use in the organisation. Organisations may also use this platform to market themselves and their events. In a nutshell, social networking sites provide a new highly interactive medium for organisations to connect with their customers.

Challenges that come into play mainly involve issues to do with privacy concerns, and how much information is made available to the public. But, these can be controlled with just a little care on the part of the organisation in what information it is sharing with its audience.

Web 2.0 and Social Media, An Introduction

Web 2.0 represents the World Wide Web at a new level of development. It is everything the web has brought us with a lot more extra benefits. The web brought us information to our very own door steps, now web 2.0 adds a new dimension to the whole idea by enabling us to be the sources or the makers of the information. With web 2.0, it is no longer a matter of simply receiving information; it is about becoming a part of the informants ourselves.

In our daily lives, web 2.0 tools can be used to connect and collaborate with our intended target audience. This can therefore be a solution for many problems faced by organisations. Web 2.0 tools provide an easy communication platform that can be used by anyone to create, find and share whatever content they may need to share with the rest of the world. So in a nutshell, web 2.0 makes the World Wide Web, any mans’ platform. Anyone with basic knowledge of computer use is now able to not only get information from the internet, but also add information to the World Wide Web, or as it’s now called, the “cloud”.

The basic uses of web 2.0 tools, also known as Social Media tools, are as follows;

  1. To connect with people through social media networks,
  2. To collaborate with people in accomplishing a task,
  3. To create and share whatever material or content one may want to share, and
  4. To find, use, organise and reuse content other people’s content if allowed.

In an organisation, this simply means increased efficiency and collaboration. Because people can now work together even over long distances or across international borders using various web 2.0 tools. Various tools such as Groupware tools, Social Networking tools, are all examples of web 2.0 tools or social media tools that can help individuals and organisations to connect, communicate, work and collaborate more effectively and efficiently than before.

As with all things, social media tools must be used with caution as they do present a number of issues to watch out for. Privacy, copyright, and intellectual property concerns are all topics of concern when it comes to anything you may share using social media tools. So while these tools present an effective way of working, caution should always be taken while using some of the web 2.0 tools.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

IT Growth and Population in Africa

IT has revolutionised how business is done, with this new age in IT everyone is presented an opportunity to air their views, do business, or any other business on the internet. With the ever increasing importance of the internet and other IT services, how disadvantaged is Africa? Can Africa move with the rest of the world finally, or will Africa be left behind once more?

Firstly we need to analyse the costs of IT. What has been observed the world through is that costs reduce as numbers increase. But with a number of countries in Africa having small populations in comparison with most western countries, it is almost inevitable that Africa may find itself disadvantaged once more even in this new era.

Take for instance a country like Zambia, with about 13 million people spread out over an area of 752612 sq. Km it can hardly compete for IT service provision against a country like Nigeria with a population of about 162 million people spread over an area of 923,768 sq. Km. It now seems that the greater a country’s population, the greater its spending power or market power. The Nigerian market is one of Africa’s most attractive markets for any service or product. The question now is, what is the way forward, do we encourage population growth in order to have a greater market for IT services in African countries? Great countries like China, Russia, and the USA all started out with a powerful internal market demand for services and products in there early growth stages. It is an essential part of development in service provision. If a foreign business was looking for new markets, one major concern would always be market size. Countries with smaller populations will therefore always be disadvantaged in this regard.

The necessary infrastructures needed in IT service provision are tremendously costly. Most African governments find it a hard decision to allocate resources to IT infrastructure. Faced with many other pressing problems it is difficult for many African governments to simply re-direct insufficient resources to IT development despite the many benefits of IT in development. 

The question now is, what options does Africa have?

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