Thursday, September 03, 2009

MINO on my Mind: From Facebook with Love

This was how I started the morning:

humbled that Ghana's Joy 99.7FM supremos would seek my opinion abt Ghana's ministry of information (MINO [sounds like an Ancient Greek name...] ) using Facebook as outreach. Will be recording as podcast. Starts @ 12.00pm GMT

Fellow blogger, Kobby G, of Wherever I Lay My Hat fame called me to ask whether Joy FM could interview my humble self. Ofcourse I said yes!;-) (even if I was unsure exactly why there wasn't a better person to interview). Kobby told me that he and Ato KD, whom I have never met immediately thought of me. I wonder why: I'm a bit of a loud-mouth, and surely there are more serious "technologists" out there. Still, I was raring to go.

So, I was interviewed for the midday news, and only an excerpt of my interview was used. Let me try, though, to get the essence of what I wrote elsewhere (precisely on Emmanuel.K.Dogbevi of fame's profile--for which a media practitioner castigated me for calling the MInistry of Information's desire to engage the FACEBOOK constituency a "knee-jerk" reaction:

Emmanuel, nice piece.

I was interviewed, albeit briefly, on Joy FM's midday news. A media practitioner who is also a Facebook user castigated me for claiming it was a "knee-jerk reaction." While we did speak and I understand where he is coming from (as it suggests that MINO might have been criticised for NOT using facebook), I still believe that if Facebook is going to COMPLEMENT government policy, certainly it should not take the plunge so deep like this?

First of all, we have our government portals that have not been sufficiently exploited for the benefit of our citizens. For example, could be made more mobile-friendly, to include txt msg alerts and whatnot.

Facebook is not just for the young--it is now an all-encompassing medium that cuts across ages and walks of life. For it to be effective in a country where more than half of BECE students have failed their exams and where greater attention to literacy is needed strikes me as counter to meaningful development.

Just because Facebook is buzzing every nano-second does not mean that you have to have a "LIVE CHAT" every week. What is the objective of that live chat? To canvass opinions of the youth, or the rest of the population? How many even middle class use FACEBOOK? At the times (3pm) that they should be working, would you want them to seek permission from their bosses to come talk to the MINO officials--or would they do it on the sly?

In short, it has implications--on productivity at work (time of day (3pm) is not conducive to productivity, perhaps lunch time? weekends?); on skills (how much of the population is adept at using the 'Net -- let alone Facebook?); on meaningful communication (does MINO have the capacity to monitor the chats from bad/foul language/repetitive questions & comments, etc); on inclusiveness (what portion of the population are even online most of the time to make contributions?

If they said they were reaching out to the Diasporan community and the youth ALONE, then I would understand, but I sincerely believe that Facebook should not be used at the expense of existing working systems like govt portals which the jury might even be out on as to how effective it remains for the general public.


The debate is surely to continue--and I shall definitely be in the thick of things--monitoring!
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