Posts Tagged ‘south africa’

little-pig1

I found it impossible to escape the news about Swine flu, now called H1N1 influenza A as I pondered what to blog, it’s on everyone’s minds, lips, tweets,  and status updates…

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) as of 06:00 GMT, 5 May 2009, 21 countries have officially reported 1124 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. Mexico has reported 25 deaths and United States has reported one death. How does this link to the blog? Well, the H1N1 flu virus is too being rapidly spread through the social networking and media wires.

Yet this is not the first time the internet has been the one-stop shop for news scoops. Twitter has emerged as a source for major breaking news stories. Like the earthquake that devastated the Sichuan region of China, tweets from the disaster zone gave the rest of the world its first glimpse of the scope of the devastation. Again we saw how social network sites took the forefront when  there were media events that were driven by the web 2.0 e.g Mumbai terror attacks, plane crash in Hudson river etc.

Over the plethora of social networking websites, people from all sorts of backgrounds are blogging, twittering, facebooking and myspacing about the flu virus. Twitter has once again gained media attention as a source of fervent ‘swine’ flu discussion, it’s become the top trending topic on Twitter, with users rapidly tweeting about the latest (Twitter even topped out at a rate of more than 10,000 tweets per hour earlier during the course of last week).

Yes granted many ‘swine’ flu updates were making crude jokes, like SA’s own advertising upcoming guru Khaya Dlanga’s tweet updates, “Swine flu my ass, I’ll bring my mighty vengeance & furious anger upon these pigs. Had bacon for breakfast. For lunch, something with pig” or “If I hear one more thing about Swine flu I’ll go eat a pig”.

This proves that social networking sites can be as misleading, however a significant portion of the discussions about the flu seemed to centre around a legitimate desire to connect with others and talk about real issues. This created a some what tight knit community that wanted to speak about what is happening in the world.

New media vs old media

Google Trends reports that “Swine Flu Ohio” is the 27th most popular search keyword currently, with searches for “Swine Flu Symptoms” also making the top 100 keyword searches on Google.

google-trends

Google Maps have also been created to chart the spread of the Swine Flu. Below is a Google Map created by a bio medical engineer, this charts suspect and confirmed cases of the Swine Flu in the U.S. and Mexico.

h1n1-swine-flu-google-maps

Technorati has graphed the number of times the term was used in blog posts and it shows that the mention of Swine Flu rose sharply from Friday to nearly 2800 blog post demonstrates.

This for me, shows the power of the internet but most importantly the power of social networking and media sites. People from every corner of the globe are conversing about something that doesn’t affect them directly however it now part of their community discussions. These new media tools have gone beyond reporting on a particular story to what people want to say about particular issues. Now it is and it is creating some independence and democracy with audiences.

Granted only a few people have internet access to the but  the minority engage instanteously with the rest of the world. And in this case new media tools helped to support and deliver public health messages quickly and broadly and how to track such viruses.

Old media in trouble?

However, I think  the role of new media may overshadow traditional journalism and it can cause a form of tension in newsrooms because now journalists are trusting social network sites for scoops in the land of social media.

New media tools have become the new hybrid form of journalism, they are quick and everywhere on the web unlike traditional forms of journalism.

So is the traditional notion and value of hard core journalism being apprehended?

I think not, social netowrking and media sites can be complementary to old media. They just need to verify facts. Journalism and new media tools need each other to inform and educate the world. In the future when more outbreaks such as swine flu occur social media can help out traditional journalism. Futureye signing out.

Related link:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/2385466/Swine-flu-story-a-media-beat-up

Blog last updated and corrected on the  27th May 2009

Advertisements

I remember when we were growing up, we’d play with tin cans, connect them with a string and pretend they were phones.Today mobile phones, better known as cellphones in South Africa (SA), have become ubiquitous everywhere you go, even children as young as five years old have their own cellphones (this does not only happen in SA only but in many other countries).A company in England is even targeting toddlers with a phone designed in the shape of a teddy bear. And this creates more of an “addiction” from a young age.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), three-quarters of Australian children aged 12 to 14 own a cellphone but by the time they are 15 that number surges to 90 per cent. In Spain a media report recently spoke of a case where two children, age 12 and 13, were admitted into a mental health institution.

The ACMA concluded by saying that these children could not carry out normal activities without their cellphones, they tend to lie to their parents and relatives to get money to spend on their phones.

In Japan, the government is currently asking phone manufacturers to develop phones that are only used for talking. This is because Japanese youngsters are committing cyberspace crimes and spending hours exchanging mobile e-mails. Most phones in Japan offer high-speed Internet access.Things have gone so bad that the government is starting a program where they are warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.

Dr Jose Martinez-Raga, an expert in addictions, said children who developed a dependency on cellphones, like those who over-used video games, often became irritable, withdrawn and antisocial, and their school performance deteriorates. But children are not the only ones having addiction issues.

cellphone addiction

The Flip side

On the other side of the coin, most parents would say knowing where their children are is an advantage because they can just pick the phone and contact them.

The parents believe that the safety and security of their children is ensured by the cellphone. Their other reason perhaps may be that a cellphone gives children independence.

I’m sure this is great for mobile corporations in terms of sales but this trend has the potential to give brain cancer  because according to Research from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency states that cellphones link to brain tumors.

This research center further says that thinner skulls and smaller brains put children at a greater risk.

I do think cellphones are important because most people have interaction through internet access and there’s a majority of people in the developing countries can not afford PCs. Cellphones are an affordable way to stay in touch with relatives, check friends on social network systems etc. Although cellphones are a great communication tool, it is creating major disorders, one of them being cellphone addiction.

The question I want to pose is, are certain companies thinking about what the consequences of ‘getting-them-while-they’re-young’ model is causing? I think there signals of distress out there and cellphones could be a danger in the future. Look at the video entitled “Why are mobile phones addictive“, to avoid cellphone addiction.  Futureye signing off.

Related links on mobile phone addiction:

Last updated and correction made on 27th May 2009.