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PROJECT TOPIC: IMPACT OF EVENT CENTERS ON SOCIAL ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA CITIES

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

The development of various means of communication continues to emerge as the society develops. Different eras of development in the society, were marked with forms of communication suitable to the period. For instance, earlier forms of communication did not need any technology or skill but as the need to communicate with a wider audience grew, so did the channels, bringing writing and writing forms in its wake. That era introduced theories like the Bullet theory that dwells on the strong, direct effects of the media on people. The theory was based on the “push” model concept of the mass media, where the gatekeepers who decide what the audience will have, simply push the information to the receiver. With the advent of new technologies today, the focus has shifted. The Uses and Gratification Theory has actively displaced the Bullet theory in the sense that people, when they are not seeking out media to subscribe to, can/have become the media themselves. The „audience‟ has moved from being just consumers to producers of their own media. The internet media is based on the “pull” model where receivers pull only the information they want. Tools like blogging, podcasting, video blogging allow the average citizen the ability to pull what is relevant and also participate in producing content. The evolution of the internet provided the technological framework for the emergence of the social media platform. The Internet has been described as a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. This extended definition by Omojuwa (2012) captures the essence and function of the internet; It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support email. Most traditional communications media including telephone, music, film, and television are reshaped or redefined by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). Newsproject, book and other print publishing are adapting to Web site technology, or are reshaped into blogging and web feeds. The Internet has enabled or accelerated new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, internet forums and social networking The new media of communication as the internet is commonly referred to, through the pervasiveness of web 2.0 has broadened and substantially increased public participation in the media. Web 2.0 is a term referring to myriad web applications that provide for interactive information sharing and collaboration via the internet using a variety of means such as texts, images, audio and video (Addison, 2006). The World Wide Web brings the internet into the realm of mass communication and also enables the development of the Social media tools for audience engagement. Social media has been defined in various ways by different scholars, some of these definitions will now be highlighted. Weber (2009) defined social media as an online place where people with a common interest can gather to share thoughts, comments and opinions. Weber further described social media as a new world of unpaid media created by individuals and companies on the internet. According to B&C (2010) social media is an online technology tool that allows people to communicate easily utilizing the internet to share and discuss information. In this capacity, it allows users to create content, interact and collaborate in a user generated visual community. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) defined social media as a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Other definitions see social media as elements of the new media that has the highest activity on the internet which use web-based technologies that transform and broadcast media monologues into social dialogues, support the democratization of knowledge and information while transforming people from content consumers to content producers. Social media are also perceived as tools that help to reach people when, where and how they want to receive messages; it improves the availability of content and may influence satisfaction and trust in the messages delivered. Likewise, social media equally provide the opportunity to tap into personal networks and present information in multiple formats, spaces, and sources which helps to make messages more credible and effective. Additionally, many social media channels facilitate social engagement, viral sharing of information and trust. It is obvious then that integrating social media into different communication campaigns and development activities will allow the government, civil society and other professionals to leverage social dynamics and networks to encourage participation, conversation and community – all of which can help spread key messages and influence informed and positive decision making. Deriving from the above definitions, it could also be argued that the social media tools could be suitable for mass mobilization of the Nigerian society, though with the recognition of certain challenges to the effectiveness of this tool, due to the socio economic development context of Nigeria. There are three key attributes of social media channels that are believed to make them highly effective as social development communication tools. • Personalization – content tailored to individual needs • Presentation – timely and relevant content accessible in multiple formats and contexts • Participation – partners and the public who develop and contribute content in meaningful ways. Many authors believe Social media and other emerging communication technologies to be useful tools for social development and mobilization, because of the following characteristics: Social media can connect millions of voices to, increase the timely dissemination and potential impact of trends and issues as they evolve in the society. Leverage audience networks to facilitate information sharing. Expand reach to include broader, more diverse audiences. Personalize and reinforce development messages on several issues that can be more easily tailored or targeted to particular audiences. Facilitate interactive communication, connection and public engagement. Empower people to make better informed decisions. Of the many mass media theories, the Uses and Gratification theory appears to capture the paradigm shift in audience use of the media enabled by the social media. This shift can best be described as a shift from „one-to-many‟, to „many-to-many‟ communication. The Uses and Gratifications theory is a model that could be used in understanding the different ways the audience now applies the media to satisfy personal needs and gratifications via the internet web based technologies. Uses and Gratifications Theory (a limited effects theory)


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