Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Researchers innovate next generation of electronic devices

A team of researchers from the University of Manchester’s Photon Science Institute have collaborated with colleagues from the University of Cambridge and industry partners from Germany to develop the new instrument of electronic devices employing 2D materials reports ITRealms.

This table-top instrument, ITRealms gathered affords the new magnet to only generate a field in short pulses that each last for a fleeting one hundredth of a second.

ITRealms recalls that since the 1950s, experiments conducted with magnetic fields have played a pivotal role in the development of semiconductors devices such as transistors and light-emitting diodes that have changed the world. Previously, scientists have had to visit huge facilities such as the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in the USA to probe the fundamental structure of materials to better understand and manipulate their properties.

However, such facilities are extremely scarce, and scientists must compete with others for valuable time on the machines.

The team led by Dr Darren Graham, ITRealms reports worked with researchers from manufacturers Laser Quantum to incorporate lasers into the new instrument which are more than 10 times quicker than those found in typical ultrafast laser systems. Thus allowing them to increase the number of measurements during one magnetic pulse to around 100 - previous experiments with a similar magnet system were limited to 4 measurements per pulse.

“We’re sure that when people realise that we can do such measurements in the lab they will be lining up to use our instrument. We’ve already been contacted by several groups interested in having measurements made on their samples,” Dr Graham said.

Ben Spencer, a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Manchester’s Photon Science Institute said, the challenge when using these pulsed magnets was being able to record data within the brief time period that the magnet is on.

“The breakthrough we have made is in the measurement technique, which is the leap forward that will now enable routine cyclotron resonance measurements on a table-top in a laboratory environment,” Spencer said.

Remmy Nweke/ED.Op

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Pix: Dr Darren Graham

Chief Boko Haram bomb maker killed by colleague, another blinded – Army Spokesman

The Nigerian Army has said that the chief Boko Haram terrorists bomb maker has been killed by colleague in attempt to escape from the group, reports ITRealms.

Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, disclosed this in a press statement made available to ITRealms, Tuesday, saying that things seems to be falling apart in the hierarchy of the terrorist group, as another top member has gone blind.

He described this development as a major breakthrough in the clearance and rescue operation by the Nigerian military, confirming as the chief bomb maker and a high ranking terrorist, were shot dead Tuesday.

According to Usman, the chief bomb maker, apart from his high status in the command structure of the Boko Haram terrorists, was one of their capable hands involved in making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), coming after their chief scientist, called Abu RPG, who has been killed long ago.

Usman also said that the chief bomb maker  was killed by one of the body guard of the Boko Haram terrorists leader, Abubakar Shekau as he was about to run away just like several others are doing because of the intensity of operation CRACKDOWN.

In a related development, he said, one Julelebeeb who was appointed to take over is now completely blind because his two eyes were shattered by shrapnel, in the process of preparing an IED to consolidate his appointment.

There is no doubt, this development has dealt a devastating blow on the terrorists capacity on IED preparation, suicide bombing and their ability to sustain their criminal acts.

Nigerian Army, therefore, reassured the public that “our troops are continuing with the clearance and rescue operations successfully in order to completely clear Boko Haram terrorists wherever they might be hiding.”

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

International investors’ heads to Tanzania

The Nyerere country of Tanzania would be hosting a three-day international forum for investment in Dar es Salaam in July, this year, reports ITRealms.

The Tanzania International Forum for Investments  scheduled to take place at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, between July 12 and 14 July 2016, with confirmed funding commitments amounting to US$1 billion and participation from global investors.

TIFI, according to the organisers, is set out to be the largest gathering of international investors in Tanzania soil and aims to generate more than $4 billion in potential investments and funding commitments.

Some of the confirmed participating companies include Credit Suisse International, Africa Finance Corporation, Nedbank, UK Climate Investments, Pembani-Remgro Infrastructure Fund, Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking,  Intertoll Africa (Pty) Ltd, Advance Consulting, Netherlands, Letsema Consulting & Advisory (Pty) Ltd, Afriwise Consult, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Advanced Finance & Investment Group ("AFIG Funds"), Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries – Netherlands, and CRDB BANK PLC.

Others, comprise ZHE Africa, East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Kibo Mining Plc, Rand Merchant Bank, Frontier Investment Management (FIM), German International Cooperation (GiZ), Mkoba Private Equity Fund,  Kibo Capital Partners, CrossBoundary LLC, Metier Sustainable Private Equity, SME Impact Fund, MasterCard, Public Investment Corporation -Africa’s largest asset manager and many more.

The TIFI 2016 world class programme comprises intimate highly-interactive sessions that give entrepreneurs, investors and financiers the best platform to build relationships and forge business-to-business and business-to-government partnerships.

The forum, ITRealms further gathered would showcase specific investment opportunities in key sectors including agriculture and agro-processing, tourism, energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, telecommunications and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), mining, and financial services, with investors and participants at decision making level, comprising local and foreign companies, heads of public institutions, and other relevant stakeholders expected to grace the event.

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Microsoft offers Ekovolt, 11 others grants to accelerate affordable Internet access

Microsoft Corporation has awarded Affordable Access Initiative grants to 12 entrepreneurial businesses, including Ekovolt in Nigeria to scale-up their solutions and business models to increase affordable Internet access in communities around the world, reports ITRealms.
Each company, ITRealms gathered, received seedgrants, and resources including BizSpark tools such as free software, services and technology support to help extend the reach of their hardware, applications, connectivity and power solutions.
In Nigeria, the grant received by Ekovolt would enable simplify everyday life and connect people, places, and things with technology.
ITRealms also reports that with Affordable Access Initiative grant support, this wireless broadband and cloud services provider is expanding its solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria.
The Managing Director, Ekovolt, Mr. Emeka Ebo, the partnership would help in the application of new technologies in delivering Internet services to underserved markets and rural communities in Nigeria.
“As we combine Microsoft’s cloud solutions with Volt Internet services, we can offer bundled packages of customized Internet and Enterprise solutions for small to medium-sized businesses typically only found at large corporations,” he said. 
The executive vice president, business development at Microsoft, Peggy Johnson, pointed out that with more than half of the world’s population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving.
“By using technology that’s available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come,” Johnson said.
ITRealms recalls that Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative aims to democratize access to the Internet through grants, commercial partnerships, connecting new leaders and community engagement. 
ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Akano, Olaitan to join Rudman @ 2016 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance

The trio of Chief Executive Officers of New Horizons, Crafts Village Nigeria and Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Messs Tim Akano, Ogunbekun Olaitan and Mohammed Rudman respectively, have confirmed their participation at the 2016 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum (NDSF) on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) and Nigeria IPv6 Roundtable thrill participants, reports ITRealms.

The Executive Director, Operations, DigitalSENSE Africa Media, Mrs Nkemdilim Nweke revealed this at the weekend, saying that the aforementioned trio not only confirmed participation but have developed strategies to delight participants in-line with the theme of this year’s forum on IG4D and Nigeria IPv6 Roundtable, which is ‘Internet Governance: Creating Opportunities for All Nigerians’ on Day 1 on Thursday June 2, 2016, and ‘Creating Opportunities for Nigerians with IPv6’ on Friday, June 3, 2016.

She also said that the 8th edition of the two-day forum holding at the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), former NITEL Training School, Cappa-Oshodi in Lagos, would have the National President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Sola Aderounmu, presiding over this year’s august assemblage in June.

Mrs. Nweke noted that DigitalSENSE Africa Media, an At-Large Structure (ALS) certified by the global internet coordinating body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), uses this forum as a rallying point to educate Nigerians on issues of relevant with regards to Internet Governance both locally and internationally.

She equally said that Mr. Akano, the CEO of New Horizons would be coming to the forum to share information on digital jobs and how Nigerians could leverage on it, just as Mr. Olaitan of Craft Village, the No. 1 customised greeting card and fashion crafts company, would demonstrate best practices on how to create and maintain an online stores, while Mr. Rudman of IXPN, would be offering insight to the global update on growing Internet Protocol version Six (IPv6) in commemoration of the World IPv6 Day 2016.

Before, Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance for Development and Nigeria IPv6 Roundtable has fascinated SystemSpecs, the owners of Remita, the online payment driving the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Federal Government based on its multi-bank channels.

She recalled that the two-day forum, is organized since 2009 in collaboration with the support of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), MTN Nigeria and Etisalat Nigeria to name a few.

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!
Pix: Akano, Olaitan and Rudman

Huawei launches GR3, GR5 smartphones targeting Samsung

Leading global innovation and ICT solutions provider, Huawei has launched two affordable mid-range devices, the Huawei GR3 and Huawei GR5 with the undertone to tackle Samsung market share, reports ITRealms.

The Country Manager, Huawei Consumer Business Group Nigeria, Mr. Leo Jiang said the newly launched smartphonesare 4G supported with a sleek metal finishing, and unique features that will cater to a wide range of customers’ preferences.

ITRealms gathered that the Huawei GR3 features an ultra slim design that is comfortable for single handed use and a160 inch wide viewing angle screen, and a choice from three high-end metal color options, including titanium gray, silver and champagne gold.

The Huawei GR3’s 5 inch display, he said, is the ultimate in visual experience, paired with a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 5 Mega pixel front camera for amazing panoramic selfies, in addition to having been made with aerospace grade material and a solid and powerful octa core processor with 2 GigaBytes of RAM and support for up to 128 GigaBytes of Micro SD Card storage.

Jiang said that the beautiful Huawei GR5 will no doubt be popular amongst photography aficionados and tech lovers as its camera comes with an independent metering function, and can adjust highlights and shadows in photos automatically. Users are able to take selfies in 10-level beauty mode, panoramic selfie and a refocus mode.

“The Huawei GR5 also comes with the new second generation fingerprint identification technology that’s more comfortable, accurate, and natural to use, whilst allowing you perform simple functions like clear notifications, answer phone calls, or take pictures; even with sweaty hands,” he said.

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Zika virus knocking at Nigeria’s door –Tomori

Nigerian virologist and Head, World Health Organisation Advisory Panel on Yellow Fever,Professor OyewaleTomori,has said that the discovery of a strain of Zika virus in the Cape Verde, a country near Nigeria, means it knocking on the door of the most populated nation in Africa, ITRealms reports.

Reacting to the finding of Zikavirus in Cape Verde, Prof. Tomori, who is the President of the Nigeria Academy of Science, cautioned Nigeria to see Zika virus as a serious issue nearby.

“This tells us that the Zika outbreak is not only a problem of South America, but one that is knocking on the gates of West Africa,” he said, advised that Nigeria “must resuscitate our moribund and comatose national disease surveillance system and in particular, our mosquito-borne virus disease surveillance system at the Department of Virology, University of Ibadan and the National Arbovirus Research Institute at Enugu.”

Tomori also advised that Nigeria heightens risk awareness to pregnant women and promote protection steps to avoid mosquito bites as well as sexual transmission.

He lamented that with Zika arriving at the gates of West Africa, and Yellow fever raging on in Angola and DR Congo, Nigeria may likely resort to her one and only defence against disease outbreaks “organize vigils and worship in mosques, to plead with God, who loves Nigeria so much, not to let either of the diseases enter Nigeria. We are the same Nigerians, some of whom will travel to Angola and DR Congo, with fake yellow fever vaccination cards.”

Okoli Vincent/GEE
  ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Use technology to address urbanization - CLGF

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), Carl Wright, has called for urgent and smart use of technology to help address the ever-growing global urbanisation challenge, reports ITRealms.

In a lecture he delivered on smart cities at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) in London at the weekend, Mr. Wright noted though the trend towards decentralised government in Commonwealth countries continues, urban centres also continue to grow, with greater need for efficiency in areas such as energy, public transport and other services, and smart city solutions through better use of technology will be essential to making our cities more efficient.

The lecture was part of the CTO's new monthly lecture series initiated by host Secretary-General Shola Taylor earlier this year.

Also speaking, Mr. Taylor said, the CLGF provides unique support to local government authorities and communities among member countries, stressing "They have a unique understanding of the growing social and demographic urban challenge as more rural and semi-urban populations continue to migrate to larger urban centres. Through e-government and other technology-centric solutions, ICTs provide us with opportunities to manage this change more effectively,” said Mr Taylor.

Nenye Dom/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!
Pic: From the left: Secretaries General Shola Taylor and Carl Wright shortly before the lecture on the smart cities challenge, last weekend in London.

Etisalat lifts local manpower with ETEPP 2016

Fastest growing telecommunication company in Nigeria, Etisalat, has unveiled a set of postgraduate students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as part of its 2015/16 Etisalat Telecommunication Engineering Postgraduate Programme (ETEPP), reports ITRealms.

The course intakes were unveiled during the closing ceremony of the 2016 edition of the internship programme held in Abuja recently.

The internship is part of the Etisalat Telecommunication Engineering Postgraduate Programme (ETEPP), a Master’s Degree course in Telecommunication Engineering at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria which is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of Etisalat, aimed at developing indigenous manpower in the Nigerian telecommunication industry.

ITRealms gathered that this programme provides students with the opportunity to gain practical knowledge through a month-long internship stint with various departments of the technical division of Etisalat Nigeria.

The Vice President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Dikko, explained that the internship programme which commenced in 2013 is a flagship Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of Etisalat Nigeria designed for students to gain practical experience in the field of telecommunication by undergoing a month-long work experience in various departments of the engineering section of Etisalat, to augment and buttress their course work in school.

“The objective of this program is to drive and improve the quality of local manpower in the telecommunication industry by adding practical knowledge to the theory students have learnt in the school. Through this initiative, Etisalat is grooming local telecommunication engineers that would take the industry to the next level in the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.

On his part the Chief Technical Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Stephane Beuvelet said Etisalat is proud to be involved in the telecommunication industry skill development initiatives.
“ETEPP and this internship are very important initiatives, designed by Etisalat to ensure that these students become assets to Etisalat and the telecommunication industry in future. This internship is a major step towards the development of rounded engineers that would excel in both theoretical and field work,” Beuvelet said.   

Beuvelet further explained that Etisalat took the challenge of raising and improving local manpower in the telecommunication industry in Nigeria after observing a gap in Nigerian universities offering courses in telecommunication engineering in the country. “We are working in partnership with Plymouth University UK, the Etisalat Academy, UAE and the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria,” he said.

In addition to the Students Masters’ programme, he said, lecturers of the Ahmadu Bello University are also sponsored for their Ph.Ds in Plymouth University UK, while three best students of ETEPP will be at the Etisalat Academy in the UAE,” he said.

Applauding Etisalat for the good gesture, Head, Department of Computer Engineering, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Dr. Yusuf Jibril said “this CSR initiative of Etisalat has impacted much on our department and our students in many ways. Under this initiative Etisalat and Huawei Technologies donated state of the art equipment to the department, exposed our students to the most recent practices in the telecommunications industry and also sponsored some of our lecturers for their PhD in Plymouth University UK. We really appreciate this good gesture and hope other telecommunication companies can emulate this.

One of the interns of the Etisalat Telecommunication Postgraduate Programme (ETEPP), Kelechi Okogwu, an M.Sc. student of Telecommunication Engineering, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria expressed his appreciation to Etisalat. According to him, the initiative presents a wonderful opportunity to anyone interested in developing a career in telecoms engineering, with the course content well thought-out between the faculty and Etisalat.

“The internship programme reinforces our class room knowledge; in fact we have benefited so much starting from the basics of telecommunication technologies, to the current developments in the industry, as well as a peep into the future of telecommunication engineering,” he said.

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!
Pix: (L-R) Chief Technical Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Stephane Beuvelet; Intern,
Etisalat Telecommunication Engineering Postgraduate Programme (ETEPP), Unachukwu Josephine ;‎ Vice President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria, Ibrahim Dikko at the closing ceremony of the Etisalat Telecommunication Engineering Postgraduate Programme (ETEPP) Internship for postgraduate students of ABU, held in Abuja recently

Oracle unveils big data infrastructure with DIY options

Oracle has unveiled big data infrastructure with options to assist people in building their own big data capabilities from scratch through Do-It-Yourself (DIY), reports ITRealms.
Big Data Solutions Lead at Oracle Australia, Mr. Vicky Falconer, said they see this introduction as a way to tailor the technology to specific business needs and to give IT department complete oversight and control of the processes and capabilities.
He promised they would explore the challenges of taking the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) route with big data and how buying the capabilities packaged together on a pre-built system could overcome them.
He pointed out that for many businesses, the ‘buy’ approach will be the better option. By investing in a suite of big data technologies packaged together, either deployed on-premise or via the cloud, companies could address all of the time to value challenges.
The technology, he said, is already tested, integrated and optimised for the task, with the vendor providing the expertise and support that may be lacking in the IT department, and which will evolve with the technology.

And while even well thought-out DIY implementations take months to make production-ready, in theory, Oracle’s Big Data Appliance could be up and running on-premise in a matter of hours.
ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Social media and English Language by Reuben Abati

I get confused these days reading many of the posts on social media, and text messages sent through cell phones, because of the kind of new English that young people now write. The English language is without doubt quite dynamic. In the last 200 years, it has lent itself to many innovations, as cultural, religious, and situational codes have transformed the language and extended the dictionary, with new words and idioms.

The kind of new English being written by twitter and what’s app users, particularly young people is however so frightening and lamentable, because it is beginning to creep into regular writing. Texting and tweeting is producing a generation of users of English, (it is worse that they are using English as a second language), who cannot write grammatically successful sentences. I was privileged to go through some applications that some young graduates submitted for job openings recently and I was scared.

This new group of English users does not know the difference between a comma and a colon. They have no regard for punctuation. They mix up pronouns, cannibalize verbs and adverbs, ignore punctuation; and violate all rules of lexis and syntax.  They seem to rely more on sound rather than formal meaning. My fear is that a generation being brought on twitter, Facebook, instagram and what’s app English is showing a lack of capacity to write meaningful prose, or communicate properly or even think correctly.

To an older generation who had to go through the rigour of being told to write proper English, and getting punished severely for speaking pidgin or vernacular or for making careless mistakes of grammar and punctuation, the kind of meta-English now being written by young people can be utterly confusing. The irony is that it makes sense to the young ones, and they can conduct long conversations in this strange version of the English language. I’d not be surprised if someday a novel gets written in this new English, which seems like a complete bastardization.

You may have come across the meta-English that I am trying to describe. It is English in sound, but in appearance it has been subjected to the punishment of excessive abbreviation, compression and modification. Hence, in place of the word “for”, you are likely to see “4”, and so the word “forget” becomes “4get”, or “4git”, “fortune” is written as “4tune”, “forever” as“4eva”. The word “see” has been pruned down to a single alphabet “C”, same with “you” now rendered as “u”. In effect, you are likely to read such strange things as  “cu” or “cya” meaning “see you.”

Some other words have suffered similar fate: “straight” is now written as “Str8”, “first” as “fess”; “will” as “wee” (I can’t figure out why), “house” is now “haus”; “help” has been reduced to “epp”; (“who have you epped?”) instead of the phrase “kind of”, what you get is “kinda”, “money” is simply “moni.”, the computer sign ”@” has effectively replaced the word “at”; “come” is now “cum”, the conjunction “and” is represented with an “n” or the sign &, “that” is now “dat”, “temporary” is likely to be written as “temp”, “are” as “r”, “your” as “ur”  “to” as “2”, “take” as “tk.” In place of “thank you”, you are likely to find “tank u”, “with” is now “wit” or “wif”, and “sorry” is commonly written as “sowie”. I have also seen such expressions as“Hawayu?” (“How are you?”), or “Wia r d u?” (“where are the you?”).  The you? The me? The us?        By the time these new words get combined in what is supposed to be a sentence, you’d have a hard time looking for the sense beyond the sound.

On many occasions, I have had to call the sender of such messages to explain what he or she is trying to communicate in simple English, and if it is on social media, I still often call for help. In recent times, I have encountered such messages as “This kidney gist is giving me heddik. I wee hold ya hand if you need kidney love you till we find a miraku. It kent happun pass dat.”  Try and help translate that into correct English. And how about this: “As fuel don add moni, everybody don park dem moto for haus.” Pidgin English? Well, may be. Or this: “B/c we d p’pl thought #fuelscarcity was temp. with the fuel hike policy, high cost of living is now a perm cond’n in Ng.”

Oftentimes, this special prose arrives amidst a number of other confusing symbols, emoticons, memes, acronyms and abbreviations, looking like a photographic combination of English and hieroglyphics.  Some of the more popular abbreviations include Lmao (“laughing my ass off”) lol (“laughing out loud”), lwkmd (“laughter wan kill man die”), stfu (“shut the fuck up”), omg (“Oh my God”), rofl (“Rolling on the floor with laughter”), uwc (“you are welcome”), smh (“shaking my head”) brb (“be right back”), #tbt (“throw-back Thursday”), #WCW (“Woman Crush Wednesday”), and such new words as “bae”, “boo”, “finz”, “famzing”, “Yaaay”. Not to talk of such expressions as “You should mute me now”; “get wifed-up”,  “birthday loading”, “you hammer”, “kwakwakwakwa.”

 This paring down of language gets really worse when it is further reduced to mere jargon that is understood only by the young people who are adepts at it. You can take a look at your child’s text messages or BB or what’s app and not be able to make any sense out of the jumble of incorrect English, graphics, memes and pure lingo. The danger is that sexually suggestive conversations can be carried out by two young persons, texting each other, and a dinosaur-parent would have no idea.

What can any parent make out of the following for example: “10Q” (it means, thank you), “1174” (this means nude club), “121” (one to one), “143” (I love you), “182” (I hate you), “1daful” (Wonderful), “2BZ4UQT” (Too busy for you, cutey), “420” (Marijuana), “53X” (Sex); “9” (Parent is watching), “PAW” (Parents are watching); “99” (Parent is no longer watching), “ADIDAS” (All Day I Dream About Sex); “aight” (all right), “AITR” (Adult In The Room); “AML” (All My Love); “B4N” (Bye for now), “BF” (Best Friend) and “BFF” (Best Friend Forever). 

This resort to abbreviations, lingo and special English reveals certain things about the growing up generation. There is a fascination with speed- when they get on their phones and other appliances, they want to get the message out of the way as quickly as possible, and they have a lot to say. There is emphasis on secrecy and privacy: that’s why there is so much concern about third party presence.

Many of the children who have become socialized into this new mode of communication are not always able to differentiate between correct and incorrect English, and this is why parents and teachers must be concerned. It is possible to assume that the teaching of morphology and syntax in our various schools is no longer as rigorous as it used to be.

Anyone who was brought up in those days on a compulsory diet of Brighter Grammar By Ogundipe, Eckersley and Macaulay and Practical English by Ogundipe and Tregdigo) would find it difficult to write this new English being made popular on social media.

It would feel like an act of murder. Teachers and parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children are able to learn the very minimum of skills: the ability to communicate in decent prose.  Some persons may well argue that this may not be the most important of skills required to live in a modern age, or that it doesn’t really matter in the long run, but I really doubt if a time will ever come when the business of communication will be reduced to a mastery of abbreviations and lingo.

The ability to write clearly strengthens a person’s ability to think clearly and to communicate effectively. It should not be surprising that many young persons these days, seem more at home in the world of gadgets and electronic appliances. They are forever texting or playing computer games and trapped in the electronic, virtual, space. They live both online and offline, spending a better part of their day on websites, thus, their emotional development is tied to this reality.  Most parents lack the knowledge of what happens in the social media, and while some parents are trying to learn very fast, a knowledge gap still exists between them and their more digitally savvy children.  But this should not result in the abdication of responsibility.

The abuse of the English language, and the inability to write well, is certainly not the only risk that an obsession with social media poses for young people. Parents also need to worry about addictiveness, exposure to inappropriate content and liaisons: all kinds of paedophiles and sexual predators operate online looking for innocent victims and luring them with sweet lingo.

 There are bullies too, harassing and stalking their targets. Under ordinary circumstances, parents have a duty to teach their children basic etiquette: this is even more required as they relate with others and navigate both online and offline spaces.

Back to the issue of language, our despair is slightly moderated by the fact that the interface between man and technology through the social media has also resulted in much useful creativity. New words have been invented through the social media, which are now gradually finding their way into mainstream English and the dictionary. In 2013, the word “selfie”- referring to a photograph taken by oneself with a smartphone, or Ipad- was declared the Oxford Dictionary Word of The Year.

Similarly, such words as textspeak, texting, sexting, twitter troll, tweeps and emoticons, are becoming common words in regular, daily communication. Words like “friend”, “timeline”, block” and “like” have also assumed new meanings and recognition, the same with such other words as:  “unfriend”, “unlook” “twitter status”, “profile”, “trending”, “timeline”, “twitterati”, “blogging”, “bloggers”, “tweet”, “retweet”, “hashtag”: all of which have caught the attention of lexicographers as clear evidence of the living and evolving nature of the English language.

If this is all that there is to social media and the English language, there probably would have been no cause for alarm, but the emergence of a generation of young Nigerians who cannot spell well, punctuate properly, or get their tenses right, because they now write social media English may have far-reaching implications for the use of English as a foreign language in our society.

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!