SOYINKA GOOFED(2): A LETTER TO PROF

Filed under: Educational Issues,Global Issues,Letters |

soyinka

Opinion Nigeria Headquarters,

Abuja,

Nigeria.

21st November, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Prof,

                                        THE BENEFITS OF INTERNET

Sir, I write in response to your widely publicized speech at the 3rd Zik Annual Lecture some days ago. I must apologise first and foremost for the late arrival of this letter because I opted to send it by NIPOST rather than by email because of your aversion to internet and electronic communication.

I wish to state incontrovertibly that the invention of the internet is one of the most important discovery of the 20th (and even last 500years) during which you were born, educated, published most of your literary works for which you were awarded the Nobel Prize in literature which has defined you as a literary icon shoulder high above your colleagues both at home and abroad. The internet has even made you more popular as people can now read about your profile online as they peruse your iconic work. I am also sure that if Alfred Nobel had witnessed this internet revolution he would have awarded the first Nobel Prize to the pioneers of internet technology like Timothy Berners-Lee, that is if he did not even name the prize after one of them rather than himself.

To affirm my belief that the internet revolution is the most important aspect of modern civilization the world over, I have decided to inundate you with some benefits of this singular 20th century invention whose effects still live with us in the 21st century and will continue to reverberate for a long time to come. Suffice to say that the arrival of internet has revolutionalised every aspect of our life including education, medicine, communication, media, publication, governance, politics, banking, financial services, commerce, sports, transportation, defence, military, science etc, a sketch of the details I have provided below in the succeeding paragraphs.

Underlying the shift in societal life is the profound effect of internet in communication. Communication has never been this easy as it is in the internet age. Gone are the days when letter writing via postal services was fashionable. The role of postal services in communication has almost been taken over completely by internet communication and, postal services now largely restricted to delivery of cargo. With the emergence of email, instant messaging like Whatsapp, Weibo, twitter, postal service has lost a huge chunk of its customers who could no longer put up with the delays associated with NIPOST. Large corporations do not need to put up adverts on newspapers/dailies any more as they can simply display such information on their own websites. It is important to also state here that in no distant time calls over the internet will replace calls over mobile network so that if mobile operators do not metamorphose into internet providers they too will soon be out of business. The list is endless and all the ripple effects of internet in other sections of our society is largely due to the change in communication.

Traditional print and electronic media have come under intense competition from social media on the internet. Most big media conglomerates have no option but to establish their presence online. With the internet their reporters can stream reports and events live from around the world without ever travelling to and fro. The internet is the only platform for absolute freedom of expression for which you stand. Dictators around the world fear the power of ‘internet media’ as it can be used to mobilize at break-neck speed. It is for this reason that the internet is heavily censored by the Great firewall of China. Moreover, as an apostle of free speech I do not need licensing by any government agency to set up a website and publish my thought and opinion no matter how critical it may be.

Education in the modern era has taken a new turn for the better courtesy of the same internet revolution ranging from availability of books, ease of school application process and access, lecture delivery etc. Like I pointed out in one of my articles if you care to read it, many ‘paper’ books are now available online for free or paid subscription. As a result, students have a huge library from which they can obtain information even if they cannot afford all the ‘paper’ version. Application process for admission and examinations is now on internet platform. In other words, I don’t need to live in California to apply to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another dramatic twist is the fact that lectures can now be delivered online to such an extent that many undergraduate and postgraduate degrees can be acquired without ever visiting a traditional classroom for the whole duration of the programme. WOW!! What a revolution!!. If I may add a sweetener, very soon we will have virtual universities(or e-universities if you choose to call them so ) with students enrolment spread around the world. It means therefore that the internet has become another classroom and I can enjoy lectures from the comfort of my home. There is no need for lecture hall overcrowding or taking lectures at odd hours. The extrapolation can continue.

You will recall that 15 years ago in this country, it was impossible to deposit and withdraw money from just any bank branch other than the particular branch where the account was opened. The speed and ease with which banking transactions take place today is astonishing. Thanks to internet banking. If you do not know, it is now possible to open bank account online without visiting any branch. A few days ago, it was published that traditional banking will fizzle out by 2025-2030 as there are now many online payment platforms rendering traditional banking services unnecessary to a large extent. E-commerce has become another market place where I can purchase goods and services from anywhere in the world just from the comfort of my home.

I being a medical practitioner have found the practice of the profession more fascinating in the 21st century because of the adoption of internet technology. Recently medical informatics and telemedicine are challenging the practice of medicine within geographical boundaries, and pushing the frontier of medical practice to a global stage. That is to say I do not need be in Seychelles to offer my services. With the internet services, I being a medical specialist can be reached from around the world by people who need my services including surgeries. Very soon the current shortage of doctors in rural setting will be a thing of the past as doctors in large cities will offer medical advice via internet.

Finally, as I decide to drop my pen here, I want to point out that in the last 10years the ‘internet world’ has produced more  super-rich billionaires than any other businesses- namely Jack Ma of Alibaba, Mark   Zuckerberg of facebook, Twitter etc;these are businesses built from scratch within this period and it will not be surprising that internet entrepreneurs will in no distant time dominate the billionaire club. What else can the internet not do? It is another world of existence called ‘virtual world’. I must also pay special tribute to our former President Olusegun Obasanjo who thought it wise to bring internet into Nigeria.

Having educated you a little on the internet, it is obvious that the internet is a tool for scholarship, social revolution, barnishing poverty/illiteracy etc. I hope with these, technosceptics like you will become campaigners of right to internet access rather than denigrating it.

I am also looking forward to a press release from you retracting your earlier statement referring to the internet as a threat to intellectualism. Once again I must apologise for NIPOST delay in delivering this letter.

Yours faithfully,

 

Dr Ochayi E.O.

 

GOD SAVE MY COUNTRY

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