John Laprise, an Assistant Professor in Residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, discusses the result of cellphone ubiquity on self-efficacy. For more information on the impact of mobile phones on society, check out the Center for Global Communication Studies' conference titled “Ubiquity, Mobility, Globality: Charting Directions in Mobile Phone Studies,” which took place November 6-7, 2014. Click here for more information.
Many scholars are examining the effects of the Internet on individuals, but I would like to take a moment to talk about how the increasingly ubiquitous smartphone offers unique affordances to its user. When psychologists speak about an individual’s belief in his ability to succeed, they refer to self-efficacy. Experience (doing it), modelling (seeing someone else do it), and social persuasion (responding to external comments) all impact self-efficacy. Positive outcomes yield improved self-efficacy and negative outcomes result in reduced self-efficacy. By affording their users inexhaustible opportunities to make low cost, low risk, but gratifying choices, smartphones enable their users to develop the confidence to overcome societal barriers to individual choice. Smartphones’ steadily growing utility makes them increasingly ubiquitous. The result is the broad but subtle global growth of self-efficacy and, perhaps, individuality.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Accountability, Transparency, Participation, and Inclusion: A New Development Consensus?
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Four key principles—accountability, transparency, participation, and inclusion—have in recent years become nearly universal features of the policy statements and programs of international development organizations. Yet this apparently widespread new consensus is deceptive: behind the ringing declarations lie fundamental fissures over the value and application of these concepts. Understanding and addressing these divisions is crucial to ensuring that the four principles become fully embedded in international development work.
Ebola communication: What we've learned so far
This week, a World Health Organization infectious diseases expert reported the death rate due to Ebola in West Africa has now climbed to 70 percent, higher than previous estimates. And by December, new cases could hit 10,000 a week. For front-line medical workers, the projections couldn’t be grimmer. They are overwhelmed and their numbers are dwindling — Médecins Sans Frontières has already lost nine staff members to the epidemic — but reinforcements remain sparse. For organizations involved in communication and awareness-raising campaigns, meanwhile, this situation means they need to be more aggressive and robust, and their messaging fool-proof. We know many of them are on the ground, conducting door-to-door campaigns and spot radio announcements, putting up posters and distributing pamphlets to inform communities about the disease. Some have even resorted to using megaphones to reach people who choose to remain indoors, conduct skits in schools and communities via youth drama troupes. A few aid groups are even considering perceived viral forms of communication like music and video messaging led by former football player and now UNICEF ambassador David Beckham. But are these campaigns actually working? Will the new plans be effective?
A little over a year ago, I wrote on this blog that communicative norms on the use of social media were shifting around, but would eventually settle down. This would happen, I argued rather naïvely, as patterns and preferences of user communities determined the contours and content of fast changing information and communication ecologies. I should also have said that vested interests –both good and bad--would attempt to exert influence on this process.
We’ve all probably come across stories of the ways in which news and media organizations, businesses, schools, and international donors have been struggling to remain relevant within shifting information environments around the world. So have governments, parliaments, and bureaucracies. Much has been written about these struggles for relevance, and a dominant theme in much of this writing has been the need to provide users with tools to manage unrelenting information gluts.