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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October - 4 December, 1998

[as of December 1st 1998 the forum has been prolonged - ... open-ended]

Date:Wed, 21 Oct 1998 15:19
Author:Andrea Siemsen  []

Just as Guillermo Gómez-Peña pointed out access to the media and to information have always been restricted but there have always also been attempts to extend the circle of the privileged. A few decades ago there was the movement of community radio followed by community video, which tried to give the ordinary person some say. Then there was all the rage about educational satellites reaching into the far corners of the globe. But each time there were limits set by limited resources be it of the radio waves (WARC was usually decided in favour of the socalled developped countries) or of finances.

Now we have the internet, but again it hasn't reached the distribution of the transistor radio as yet, and access for all will remain a dream unless there is the will power in all the nations to make it happen. But just as there is not even clean drinking water easily available everywhere, or food and shelter, it remains a dream. Someone having to fight for survival will not be tapping into the internet.

But at the same time it is a leap forward and is opening the way into information as we have never known before. It can facilitate exchange of information between people who otherwise would never have got together. It can bring precise knowledge to where it is needed - when you think of the use in the medical world and world of science.

The creation of fora where people interested in the same subjects join hands, so to speak, can bring results much faster than the old individual networks based on a paper basis. The more specific a question asked the easier an answer is received. And there seem to be always people willing to share their knowledge with others, information being the one commodity which doesn't diminish when used, but on the contrary can get richer when shared with others who might contribute more details.

Huge resources of knowledge can be tapped, even if there is not a large library nearby. New art forms develop, and much time is spent in front of the computer screen. When one looks at so many elaborate homepages I sometimes wonder are we back to McLuhans "The medium is the message" or are we using the new medium really to further communication with each other and to make things happen and not just hide in the cyberworld where we have the biggest stage on earth.

Andrea Siemsen

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Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, on the use of Internet in the cultural exchange with and between Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America. 12 October - 4 December, 1998

Project direction: Gerhard Haupt -
©  House of World Cultures, Berlin. 1998