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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]

Subject:Re: Hopes and Impediments 1
Date:Mon, 02 Nov 1998 13:04
Author:Gerhard Haupt  []

Dear participants of the HKW-forum,

Our Forum goes on for another five weeks and I think, we should use the remaining time, to discuss more intensively some of the already addressed issues. Perhaps we manage to reach some practical conclusions and initiatives.

What Olu Oguibe wrote in his last posting about the Internet's fragility and the problem of institutional server-control, touches fundamental aspects of our work on the net. And this refers not only to conscious interventions in the sense of censorship, but also - and to a larger extent - to a widespread ignorance displayed by the institutions when facing the net.

There are still too many institutions that obviously see in a website or in their presentations of exhibitions or events - if offered at all - only a means for their timely limited public relation activities within the frame of the respective event. Otherwise one could hardly understand, why also here in Germany important websites disappear, what unfortunately happened, for instance, to the highly informative website of the 6th Triennial of Small Format Sculpture in Fellbach (1995), dedicated to "Europe - East Asia" curated by Lorand Hegyi. This is particularly serious, when, along with the event, information about artists that one could not find anywhere else, disappear as well.

In the last years the vision of the WWW as a gigantic library was praised with euphoria. However many of those in particular, who would have the power and possibilities to supplying this library with content and to making available information for educational purposes, seem not to be aware of this essential cultural mission. Sue Williamson emphasized in her statement, how often the ArtThrob's archives are being consulted. It is incomprehensible, that still so many institutions don't care about such a multiplication of attention that could be drawn to their programming work.

Numerous initiatives and programs have been developed over the last years, to sensitize decision makers in culture, politics and economy to this issue. I find it would be very interesting, if members of our mailing list, who participate in such initiatives, could tell us their experiences and to let us know where do they see the decisives points of departure, in order to work more effectively in this direction.

I would like to ask for instance Amanda McDonald Crowley and Cynthia B.Rubin, what role does this topic play in the work of an organization like ISEA. Cynthia is Cultural Diversity Chair of ISEA. That's why I would have a further question to her: Why did it seem necessary, to set up a special commission for Cultural Diversity within ISEA?

Until now it was only Pat Binder who replied to Olu's thoughts to increase the availability of "fall-backs and alternatives for important bodies of information". Pat also urged to discuss how we can increase relevant information at all. It is here in particular where I see the starting point for practical considerations for a forum like ours. To begin with, it is indeed necessary, to promptly inform to a larger circle, when important websites are at risk, in order to undertake something about it and to look for mirror-sites possibilities, before they are definitely lost. How could this be reached in practice? Would it be useful to set up an alarm network for "endangered websites" or a sort of webspace-pool for alternative hosting? What about copyright of the institutions, that originally financed the sites? And what rights have the authors, who developed the content and design, even when their work was paid by an institution?

Gerhard Haupt

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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