Friday, August 3, 2012

Writing Technology

Anyone can write what they want. Many books can be written by Papua New Guineans. Papua New Guineans are capturing their experiences in the written form. It is important to write books that inspire people, shape societies, and bring about fundamental changes in our communities. The power of the written word to effect changes in our attitudes is never underestimated. 

I consider writing as an instrument of social and political change in a postcolonial society like PNG. It had been used as a political instrument during late 1960s and 1970s against colonial rule of PNG. Writing as an instrument of change has currency at this time as well. 

A quick look at the different forms of writing people use today reveals that many people are using writing to seek social and political change, but are also using writing to share their experiences. In our daily newspapers many people are using the letters to the editor to speak their mind, offer critique of issues, or even debate on the values of leadership and governance. Others use newspapers to share their views, experiences, specialist knowledge of politics, health, religion, law, and an assortment of journalistic writing. Along came the electronic mediurm with which many people have jumped on board to communicate in public forums set up on Facebook. Some of these forums have generated so much interest that at one point the National Executive Council of the last regime issued warning against those who disseminate public criticism of the government. It came from nowhere, but it sure did raise some eyebrows, especially when the question of freedom of expression was at stake that very moment. Papua New Guineans began to ask: So is it really FREE to express yourself in this supposedly democratic country where exercising such free will makes democracy become fully realized?

I enjoy reading some of these writings in newspapers and on the Facebook. I am someone who began writing before the information technology was introduced to PNG. I still maintain a deep respect for the traditional print matter in books and letter press print media. 

I remain committed to writing books for publication, research and write papers for academic journals, contribute to newspaper commentaries, set up and managed my own blog: where electronic versions of Steven’s Window articles are available to anyone in the world to read. With the accessibility to Facebook through my mobile life is made more fun. I now posts entries from my blog to Facebook for others who have not them in The National newspaper every Friday.

An important reason I use information technology is for its educational value. As a teacher I want to get my students to appreciate and value information technology. I try to encourage students to use my blog as a way of expanding their knowledge base. At this time I am thinking of about posting my lecture notes to my students on their mobiles. So if they don’t turn up for lectures, it’s OK the lectures will appear on their Facebook page whether they like it or not. Then they will have no excuse to fail my courses. In doing so, I save costs of photocopying my lecture notes for hundreds of students. The technology is here for us to take advantage of it to make it work for us without a cost to us. 

There is more we can do with information technology. For example in my blog I list blogs of interest to me, sites of organizations that are important to me, and of course create within my primary blog, a secondary blog containing information about Manui Publishers. In this secondary blog I provide information about myself, what Manui Publishers is, and information about my new books when they are published. I realize that not many visitors to my blog read that secondary blog, so I am contemplating setting up a separate site for Manui Publishers.  The good thing though is that  is still popular with many people around the world.

The gist of this discussion is that while the technology is here for us to take advantage of we must continue to remind ourselves that the traditional printed world of books will not go away. It is one thing to be excited about the fancy information and electronic technologies, but we must also develop the foundations of our contemporary society on traditional printed word. There is no escape here; the hard reality is that the world is still a world of books. 

It is the world of books that Papua New Guineans must take advantage before launching themselves completely into the world of information technology. Reading or writing a book in the traditional sense of it is not the same as reading or writing using information technology. In academic writing for example, there is still the old guard of the traditional printed word represented in print and bound copies of a book. The attitude in academia is that some of the electronic sources available on the internet that are easily accessible by students are not necessarily realiable or from authoritative sources. For example every now and then lecturers at universities around the world remind students that using Wikipedia, Encarta, or other electronic sources are dangerous to quality of student research in the library or from reading authoritative research availble in various academic publications. 

The importance of writing books is what I am raving on about in this column. Many Papua New Guineans do not have access to information technology, let alone internet resources. Writing the traditional book is still the best option we have at the moment if we are to maintain some solid foundation in the way we build our society. 

Information technology is good but we must remain equally alert to the dangers of information technology. With the traditional book printed information we are free to use them in whatever way we like. Printed books will remain the primary source of knowledge and dissemination of information for many societies in the world.


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