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Information Technology has tremendously impacted the way we communicate. A good example to illustrate this reality is how Dream Project for Africa used technology to connect to a global audience during its recent #JoinTheThinking2017 conference.

#JoinTheThinking is an initiative created by Dream Project for Africa to serve as a platform for Africans across the globe to discuss ideas that can move nations of the African continent forward towards becoming fully developed nations. This year, using Facebook LIVE and Open Broadcaster Software tools, #JoinTheThinking2017 was broadcast LIVE over several days to a global audience at less than 0% the cost if we had decided to use traditional means of broadcast.

Using Facebook LIVE via OBS, we connected in real time with our audience from all parts of the world and were able to respond to their questions in real time. The videos and chats are still up in the cloud and on the pages for replay. Ten years ago, what we achieved in terms of being able to communicate to a global audience could have been only possible for giant companies or government institutions and at costs running into hundred of millions of dollars. But with IT, we did this effectively at absolutely no cost. This is how much IT has changed the way we communicate. This is not to say that there are no challenges in using IT to communicate efficiently and effectively, there are many challenges.

Some of the challenges we identified in #JoinTheThinking2017 included the poor communication infrastructure in most of the African communities we would have loved to reach. Poor, unreliable and overly expensive internet access prevented many people from joining the LIVE broadcast. IT illiteracy was also a problem, few people understand how to use their phones or how to do more than browsing their Facebook or other social media pages.

There have been concerns how IT’s influence on communications has made the world a much more disconnected place. Those espousing this school of thought argue that IT’s impact on communication has made people lose the personal touch that is embedded in traditional communication. Although digitalizing the communication process has made people rely more on using texts and symbols to convey their feelings, thereby allowing insincerity or inhibiting the feel of sincerity, this factor is too insignificant when compared to the benefits of IT’s impact on communication.

IT has created an avenue for uncensored news. Governments’ violent crackdown on protests and crimes by law enforcements or other agencies have been brought to the attention of the entire world in real time as a result of IT. Such broadcasts create reactions that force those institutions to retrace their actions and resort to more democratic means of handling issues.

A good example is the recent Untied Airlines forceful removal of Dr. David Dao, a passenger on an overbooked airline. After the news and actual video of the incident went viral, United Airlines was forced to take responsibility and to review their customer relations processes. The fact that the issue generated global sentiment against United Airlines also cost the airline in billions of dollars as well as years of hard-earned reputation.

IT has influenced the way we communicate in many other profound ways and we are just beginning to explore much more ways to leverage IT to improve the effect and effectiveness of communication as well as reduce the overall cost of communication.

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