Information Proliferation: A Must of Our Time [Archives:1999/30/Last Page]

July 26 1999

By: Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi, Managing Editor, 
Yemen Times 
It is unequivocal that this age is the time of knowledge. In fact, the 20th century is described by many experts as the time of technologically revolutionized era where the communications have turned the world into a small village. In other words, it is said that what has been achieved by the humanity throughout human life is very little in comparison with what has been accomplished in the 20th century. The most important field that has witnessed marvelous wonders is that of communication and information. That is, informatics is one of the pillars of the success of the advanced world. It is rather said that man in our time is valued by how much information he has. Therefore, the world has assigned centers for making information available for everybody. Moreover, obtaining this information has become a part of one’s human rights, for all the world constitution stress the significance of this right. Centers and organizations are established in the advanced world for the purpose of proliferating information and making it available as a commodity in the marketplace of knowledge, since they believe that it is only knowledge and illumination of minds that will yield progress and prosperity for any society. 
Unfortunately, in Yemen the case is entirely the reveres. The officialdom as well as the public are not aware of this vital issue. We find that the officialdom doesn’t give any due attention to the necessity of making it available for the interested people. It is quite rational that each ministry should have, so to speak, a monthly bulletin for recording all its figures and statistics. Paradoxically, the ministers and their deputies don’t know themselves exact data and figures about their ministries. If a journalist interviews any of such official and asks him a question about any figures related to their establishments, soon he will forward him/her to another official, which is completely clear that they don’t know what is going on in their establishments. What a pity? 
Some other officials still believe that information is a secret that should not be disclosed or released to the media or whoever else. That is, they still hold backward views that the release of such information is against the national interest of the country or such information might be used against the government. They forget that informatics in this modern epoch has become an industry. This puts each nation in its position according to the amount of information it produces. Our officials don’t know that once information is available and released, it becomes easier to perform a good work in different arenas of life. To drive the point home, it is not possible to think of any economic growth or progress without information being available at the hands of everybody. I don’t mean that information is the only major factor of development. Rather, information is a helpful means that can be used in various economic establishments and decision-making cores for the well-being of the populace. 
Another point is that researchers are troubled by the shortage and blackout on information, an indispensable service. Accordingly, a society that does not value researching, as one of the potential means of solving any problem, will not be able to even crawl towards the 21st century at a time where some nations are going fast. The fissure is so wide, isn’t it? 
The people of media are also plagued with the same problem. Sometimes the officials papers and journalists are blessed with the access into such information while others are deprived of this advantage and constitutional right. More cynically, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs doesn’t have a special spokesman who can release information to the public as well as the media. Therefore, it is high time the government understood the vital role of information in the life of its citizens and hence lifted such blackout on information. Furthermore, it has to establish information centers nation-wide. Magazines and bulletins for the purpose of spreading information have to be issued. This is because access to information is an access to knowledge and an access to knowledge is an access to progress and prosperity. The government and officialdom have to keep their eyes peeled to this issue.