June 2006

Globalisation of culture with ICT

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Culture is a core part of our identities as human beings, connected to our mother tongues, to our families and kinship, to our links to our ancestors.  It binds us together with those whom we recognise as 'people similar to us'. The search for traditional commonalities in cultural heritage gives the birth of the sense of 'homogeneity', it brings a set of individuals together as persons of common cultural practices rather than as a gathering of strangers. The cultural and linguistic diversity helps us to understand the heterogeneity of human beings all over the world that is a most important character of the human society. Cultural diversity and linguistic diversity both are essential for the development of an information society based on the dialogue among cultures, and at the same time, based on regional and international cooperation.

UNESCO WSIS Action Directory shows how UNESCO is implementing the WSIS Action Plan. It has focused some of the most essential points such as creating policies that support the respect, preservation, promotion and enhancement of cultural and linguistic diversity and cultural heritage within the information society, as reflected in relevant agreed UN documents, including UNESCO's Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. It has also emphasized on developing national policies and laws to ensure that libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions can play their full role of content and supporting efforts to develop and use ICTs for the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, keeping it accessible as a living part of today's culture.

The new areas of applying ICT for development are fascinating. But the reality says that the problem of 'digital divide' not only resists the full utilisation of ICT potential by all,  but also, there lies a question of adaptability by the people associated. Here comes the requirement of content management and localisation.

We need to develop and implement policies that preserve, affirm, respect and promote diversity of cultural expression, indigenous knowledge and traditions, taking initiatives for local content development, translation and adaptation, creating digital archives, providing content that is relevant to the cultures and languages. For that, public-private partnerships are most essential.

This issue of i4d will help our readers to assess the contribution of ICT to cultural exchange and interaction in various parts of the globe. Let us start thinking locally and act globally, exchanging our views towards localisation of content with ICT, keeping the cultural diversity at its own place.

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