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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: 4th Summary available
Date:Wed, 18 Nov 1998 12:00
Author:Harald Friedl  []

Dear members of the forum,

Radio Bridge Overseas criticised the fact that the forum-project would close the 4th of December. So why not continuing, why not leaving this forum open to find its own dynamic?

I would be pleased to hear of Mister Haupt some of his experiences about his efforts to urge this discussion, and we easily would realise that a virtual discussion needs a lot of energy, of work and time to keep it alive. That a virtual forum as quite a lot in common with a "real" one.

We from the Internet-magazine "zum thema:" [] discussed several times the idea of pushing our treated subjects by stimulating a virtual discussion. Pretty soon we had introduced the chance of participating our "one-way"-discussions by sending and publishing e-mail-comments about the current edition. The feedback was - and still is minimal, even if our chosen subjects are always quite exciting like the MAI (Mutual Agreement on Investments:, about the "End of the 3rd. World?" [] or about the "Porno-Hype" [], discussing the fact of the world-wide (-web) progress of porno-industries!

A forum like this one we are participating - is something different then publishing an e-zine. But the common thing is, that it needs a lot of efforts to make something out of it. This brings us to the difficult question of "quality": What is the main difference between a online-chat and a forum like that one? Please, Mister Haupt, tell us a little bit of your work, and why you wouldn't compare this forum to a collection of spontaneous gossip. I guess a high-quality-forum is much more than simply collecting comments of people looking for a way to get a free publicity for their cyber-products...

I am very thankful about Mister Ewels description of the circumstances people in many non-industrialised countries have to face in their work - or even better: in their life!!, and that many of them have little time and energy left to become involved into virtual discussions on multicultural aspects of the internet.

To my opinion, internet - and the discussion about its meaning and consequences still is a (important!) question of those who can effort it - for those, who don't have the troubles how to survive the next day (What has that to do with our problem, somebody of the forum might ask: You are right: There are only some billions of people concerned, those who won't never ever join the cyber-market. So what?)

To be well understood: The main subject of this forum is a very important one. There is no doubt, that the effects, chances and dangers of the internet (for a multicultural exchange) are very important for our society - or better: for those people who can afford it by money and time, and additionally, to enforce the consciousness of its dangers and chances, its even more important to talk about it - following the (falling) tradition of media being an instrument of enlightenment and self-determination. But after all, we should not forget about the circumstances of resources, about circumstances forcing the web and its dynamics as they force the reality. That was the main message I wanted to give in my first statement "Cyberspace - anything more than a reflection of the "real" world?"

And I know that especially Mister Oguibe knows very well about those problems. Just by chance it was Mister Oguibe, I once allowed myself to cite in an article about the bitter illusions concerning the efforts of the internet for those, who won't ever join it. Mister Oguibe brought to the point (Sorry, I can't find the original resource anymore; Mr. Oguibe hopefully will correct the message, if translated wrong), that the frontiers, drawn through the cartography of cyberspace are pretty much the old borders of class and wealth, touching the impoverished places in the USA as the Chad. The Digital 3rd. World is a global territory dissolving the categories of the "First" and the "Third World".

So I am very glad that the forum has the resources to promote and host this forum for - at least - some weeks (better than nothing), and I am very glad to be able to participate.. Thank you very much.

Harald A. Friedl ( is a freelanced journalist and main editor of "zum Thema:" [], the first Austrian online-magazine for economical, cultural and political subjects.

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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