“In addition to television and the personal computer, the most powerful future technology for the digital citizen is the mobile phone,” says Adam Clayton Powell III, vice-provost of the University of Southern California, writes Murugi Murekio for the Highway Africa News Agency.


Powell who describes himself as “a recovering journalist,” says that just as our ancestors used paint for their rock art, today we are using our mobile phones to send voice and data, in essence a revival of oral tradition.  

Adam Clayton Powell III says the future of the African Internet is "one cellphone per child"
To appreciate this digital future, we must understand how far technology in the media has come.   
“In the 80s, we had television, newspapers and personal computers. During the roaring ’90s, television streaming over the internet became a reality,” says Powell III.  Before this print and electronic segments of media had little if any synergy. 

By the 2000s, PCs, TVs, CDs, game consoles and social networks became a major part of day-to-day life for the digital citizen. 

Today, much more collaboration between print and electronic media is possible through integrated content management systems and collaborative and open web technologies. Newspapers use digital tools on their web pages and electronic media adopt print strategies like text stories and photographs on their web pages.  

“Disney is a perfect example of the new model for business in journalism,” says Powell III.   
Disney has advanced beyond box office and television movies. They are now also developing games and ringtones which are accessible through a website and can be downloaded to mobile phones.  

For the digital citizen using a mobile phone, keypad and screen size can be an issue. How big should the keypad buttons be for faster typing? What screen size provides optimal viewing?  Another challenge, especially in the third world, is the limited bandwidth available for the digital citizen to send and receive data.   

This notwithstanding, the future of the mobile phone as a technology for the digital citizen is bright.    “The future is definitely one cell phone per child,” concludes Powell III.   

Powell III was speaking during his presentation on Technology for the Digital Citizen at Highway Africa in Grahamstown South Africa.   

* Murugi Murekio is a health reporter and editor from Kenya. Thanks to Highway Africa News Agency.