Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The wonderful world of ICT

If there are things that make the contemporary times better than the olden days, it is the Information Communication Technology. As I type this piece on my personal computer, I cannot but wonder at how we managed to survive those antediluvian days when Olympic typewriter held sway and tippex had to be used to correct errors. Then came the IBM electronic typewriter, an advanced technology. Today, computers have made dinosaur of typists. Secretarial studies has given way to computer studies and many organisations have since stopped hiring confidential secretaries because, in truth, if you have to trust someone to do your typing for you, be rest assured that the content may not be confidential as you think. Today, with computers, it is better to type those secret documents yourself.
Experts say that the ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning. With the ICT, the world has become a global village. With these gadgets, we listen to radio programmes and watch the television including live telecast of events. With computers, you can do a whole lot of wonders. With the advent of the Internet, life become so good that those versed in the use of the ICT can easily be equated to magicians as a whole lot of feats can be performed by those skilful in the usage of information, communication technology.
Let’s take a look at the use of the mobile telephone. With this tiny object on your palm, you can make calls, send text messages, take pictures, record conversations, listen to radio, film, play music and watch television. If the device is connected to the Internet, in addition to the itemised basic functions, users can also check electronic mails, download and upload documents, make cash transfers, interact with people on the social media be it Twitter, Facebook, Badoo, Skype, Youtube, Whatssap, BlackBerry Messenger, LinkedIn, Blogger, Instagram and so on. Have you also observed the magic our Global System for Mobile Communication service providers can perform on their platform? I have wondered at the marvelous things those corporations have been able to do during their perennial promos and bonanzas. The latest wonder is that you can borrow credit to make calls and pay back at the next recharge. Isn’t it amazing!
In plain terms, the ICT collectively have made our lives more beautiful and less stressful. In the comfort of your room or office, the world is brought to you via radio, television, computers, etc. With a token of subscription fees, you’re on to satellite television stations where you can enjoy variety of channels. With the Internet, you can log on to world wide web whereby in a press of button, you can use search engines available to you such as Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, and so on to research on any topic. Security wise, with walkie-talkie, CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras, traffic lights and satellite communication devices, security of lives and property are being enhanced. With flash drives and memory cards, tonnes of information can be stored and carried around effortlessly. With computer-aided designs, a new world is being created in engineering, architecture, visual arts, etc. The ICT has made electronic libraries and distance learning possible; telemedicine achievable; banking stressless and religious worship easier. Megaphone, microphone, satellite networking have made it easy for our religious leaders to connect with their congregations.
Thus, with the ICT, ignorance is being banished, needless travels avoided, education promoted, entertainment is being accessed, productivity is being enhanced, relationships are being built and security of lives and property are being achieved.
However, the ICT has not come without its pains. Largely, it is not the fault of the inventors or manufacturers of the ICT equipment but the human elements that use them. Take, for instance, the phenomenon called Internet fraud popularly known as ‘419’ in Nigeria. Thousands, if not millions, of innocent as well as greedy people around the world have fallen victims of perpetrators of these Internet scams. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has successfully prosecuted hundreds of these scammers while several others are still going through court trials. One of the drawbacks of the ICT, however, is the introduction of virus attacks on the websites and e-mail accounts of unsuspecting users. Even though anti-virus software has also been produced to prevent or neutralise the attack, more devastating viruses are being created by some evil minds in order to counter them.
Aside from virus attacks, there is also the illegal activity of hackers who for some selfish reasons that border on theft whether of information or money embark on such crimes. Banks and their customers have lost fortunes to these hackers. Privacy of many individuals has been compromised by such criminal elements. Hackers have caused pains and sorrow to many by implicating them in crimes they know nothing about. Imagine a hacker gaining access to your e-mail or social media accounts and sending out negative information in your name. A friend of mine was a victim of this recently when some impostors compromised his Facebook account and posted stinking comments on a political party on his Facebook wall. Those of us who knew he was not a politician were surprised at such comments. He had to post a disclaimer when his attention was called to the unsavoury information.
Another cybercrime being perpetrated on the ICT platforms is fake promos. Countless times, I have received text messages or e-mails asking me to call a number to claim a prize in a competition I never participated in. Until recently, when banks had to fortify their Automated Teller Machine debit cards, it was quite easy to clone such cards and use them to make cash withdrawals. There have been heated arguments in several circles about some reality shows such as the Big Brother Africa, raunchy musical videos and films that promote savagery and pornography being churned out by our artistes. All these are some of the abuses the ICT has been subjected to.
However, it is gratifying that steps are being taken at various levels to counter the abuses and overcome the challenges of the ICT. There is also the need for better ICT education by its users. In spite of the abuses of the ICT, I am happy to be living in modern times and enjoying its boundless pleasure. I don’t know about you.