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Role of the Internet in Development Communication

The Internet is swiftly advancing to the developing countries, bringing connectivity to individuals and groups...



Development communication strategies such as  information dissemination and communication for cognitive, affective and behavioral change  provide people the knowledge needed to understand and, thus, contribute in the realization of common objectives (Ongkiko & Flor, 2003). Development communication may be a form of what Gramsci (1999) considered as realizing effective approaches for particular goals, identifying the interests involved and stimulating the passions of individuals towards a particular action. 

Informed participation among all sectors of the society on purposive actions to boost development lies on their level of awareness and understanding. This implies that the state, public and private institutions should work in a more collaborative mode to constantly search for effective communication tools and strategies to empower the populace with enough knowledge.  This is to permit them to actively participate in projects and initiatives that could meet and solve pervasive development challenges (Ongkiko & Flor, 2003).  

Awareness about development projects and initiatives means some form of familiarity with the project involved, its objectives and goals, various opinions and ideas forwarded by political leaders, and the short term and long term benefits that may derive from the project.  The more information is provided to the populace, the more their level of awareness is likely to augment. In this context, the media is an important ally in development communication that can help emphasize the importance of development initiatives in order to place them in the forefront of the public agenda.

Over the last two decades, with the advent of the information and communication technologies (ICTs), the media landscape has been radically transformed and has expanded its reach.   ICTs have made communication as well as information and knowledge dissemination accessible and easy. The convergence of computer technologies and telecommunications gave rise to major changes in people’s social relationships, in work and business processes and corporate structures (Handzic, 2007).  This revolutionary shift has modified the way individuals conceive communication, information dissemination and acquisition, paving the way for other forms of content and its interactivity (Milner, 2011).

Interactivity is one of the major characteristics of ICT tools. An interactive content means that technology actively interacts and interrelates with the social world (Bradley (2007). Dimitrova (2008) argued, instead,  that the primary function of the digital technologies is not only to promote awareness on issues of collective interest but also to facilitate communication among and between the various actors: citizens, political parties, non-governmental organizations, the traditional news media, advocacy associations and government officials. 

 The use of internet alone, the most popular expression of ICTs, is swiftly advancing to the developing countries, bringing connectivity to individuals and groups, fostering the conception, preservation and transformation of communities worldwide (Fernàndez-Maldonado, 2003).  A popular medium, according to Milner (2011), that has transformed every existing form of communication, giving way to innovative and engaging communication outlets or tools.  

Internet nowadays is a global and virtual information infrastructure that counts about three billion users, with Asia totaling approximately 1.6 billion users, (Internet World Stats, 2015). Statista figures  showed, on the other hand that as of November 2014 about 73 percent of global internet users were between 15 – 44 years old. 

As a conclusion, the internet is becoming the core of the media world.  While the internet has not yet substituted TV consumption, it has replaced the printed sources.  In this context, it is important for development communicators to learn to make use of internet-based media outlets to relay development messages to the target audience and at the same time make them easily accessible to them.

References: 
Bradley, G.  (2007). ICT, work organisations, and society. In A.-V. Anttiroiko & M. 
Malkia, Encyclopedia of Digital Government (Vol. 3, pp. 969-977). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3467800155&v=2.1&u=phupou&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=e6b818016c20c15217d02a2c93bf9654
Dimitrova, D. V.  (2008). New media technologies. In L. L. Kaid & C. Holtz-Bacha 
(Eds.), Encyclopedia of Political Communication (Vol. 2, pp. 489-494). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX2661300366&v=2.1&u=phupou&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=edce89589bb1a62c80bbeabbfea3740f
Fernández-Maldonado, A. M.  (2003). Internet in developing countries. In K. 
Christensen & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Community (Vol. 2, pp. 791-794). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3452300287&v=2.1&u=phupou&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=6aa54ede9cf166be580f5e69047c375c
Gramsci, A.  (1999). Selections from the prison notebooks. Retrieved from 
http://www.walkingbutterfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/gramsci-prison-notebooks-vol1.pdf
Handzic, M.  (2007). The role of e-government in rebuilding Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
In A.-V. Anttiroiko & M. Malkia, Encyclopedia of Digital Government (Vol. 3, pp. 1424-1428). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3467800228&v=2.1&u=phupou&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=37b1b2e03cae51c2b28235077d393a86
Internet World Stats.  (2015). Internet usage statistics: The big picture. Retrieved 
from http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
Milner, H.  (2011). Political dropouts and the internet generation. In E. Dunkels, 
G.-M. Franberg, & C. Hällgren (Eds.), Interactive Media Use and Youth (pp. 186-206). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX1525000025&v=2.1&u=phupou&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=6975c95cfc51eaa49a3087cf9c662d0
Ongkiko, I.V.C. and Flor, A.  ( 2003). Introduction to development communication. 
SEAMEO Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture and the UPOU.

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