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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:About the Forum
Date:Thu, 19 Nov 1998 13:21
Author:Gerhard Haupt  []

Radio Bridge Overseas criticized the limited duration of this forum and Harald Friedl asked me about my efforts to urge the discussion. In this respect I would like to answer briefly, because there will be a detailed evaluation of the forum as of mid-December, which will also include technical and organizational aspects. Therefore I also ask Manfred Ewel for some patience until then.

I agree with Klaus Juergen Schmidt from RBO that "the use of Internet should be a synergic one". There is no doubt, that the discussion about the issues raised here will go on beyond the 4 December, whether in form of a new project of the House of World Cultures, or a direct dialogue among different participants who may have become acquainted through this forum, or in form of other projects and events worldwide. In any case, a forum like this is just a part of a broader communication process, that is taking place on the net on a continuous basis in many different forms. That's just why the various materials and contributions will remain available on our website, so they could serve as stimulation or starting points for further debates.

The time limitation for this forum, is due, on one hand, to some technical and organizational reasons. In the last weeks there were several attempts to misuse the mailing list for SPAM. It seems that a forum like this, just for security reasons needs a permanent moderation and/or administration. This is also one of the realities of the net.

On the other hand this forum was initiated to held a concentrated discussion on certain topics during a determined period. For the House of World Cultures it is a new form of continuing a far more comprehensive program of cultural exchange, that has been going on for many years. Particular aspects of the debate have already been addressed in former events, in which the use of the Internet was not taken into account yet. The question of "curating and curated cultures" for example, was started to be discussed at the 1995 Symposium "The Marco Polo Syndrome - Problems of Intercultural Communication in the Art Theory and Curatorial Practices". I initiated it myself and organized it together with Bernd Scherer of the HWC. Information available on the website of "Universes in Universe" []. Revised contributions to the symposium and related essays were published in a special issue of the art magazine "neue bildende kunst" []

I made the proposal to the House of World Cultures, to organize this forum, because I am familiar with the issues at stake through my own work on the net. Together with Pat Binder I am running "Universes in Universe", a comprehensive infor-mation and communication system for the arts of Africa, the Americas and Asia/Pacific (in English, German, Spanish - The forum's preparation started with an extensive research on the net, in order to determine which concrete themes and questions could be of interest for the discussion. Some of the material I came across has been integrated into the link directories on the forum's website []. I have directly contacted a large number of experts, activists, practitioners, editors of cultural sites, etc. worldwide, asking them for their participation, and have notified via email more than 1,200 (!) individuals and institutions so far.

Among other things, through the frequent visits on our website, as well as the regularity of text's retrieval (in the different languages) on the email level one can see the strong interest in this forum. Daily, I get emails with very positive feed-back.

I think, that the hesitant participation in the discussion is therefore not due to a lack of interest. A lot of people have already announced in their emails, that "soon" they will be posting something. However, it seems that just those who are the most active members of the different net communities and editors of cultural websites are so much under stress, that they may have not found any spare time yet, to contribute to our debate. But indeed their experiences are of fundamental importance here, because it is especially their sites which are the ones that guarantee the creation of cultural content in the net, precondition we need to have something to "exchange".

It would be very important to use the remaining time of the forum to share more of these experiences of success and disappointment, as well as strategies and lessons, in order to strengthen the individuals or groups already committed in creating and maintaining the cultural diversity of the net. And to motivate new initiatives, though making aware of problems and possible frustrations, as well as to look for new ways of networking and cooperation.

Best wishes,
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.

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©  House of World Cultures, Berlin. 1998