Cultural Diversity in the New Media

01-05-1999

Cultural identity has always been a continuous process where the cultures have been changed due to the influence of several factors, including technological changes. Within the information society, the European cultural diversity is going to face severe upheavals. The final impact is controversial. On one side the new technologies themselves can be a mean for the difision, valorization and safeguard of minority cultures, on the other there is a serious risk of a possible standardization of the cultures due to commercial reasons. The information society can be considered both as a community or a market place. If the latter aspect will prevail and the majority of the services will be offered by large multinationals, interested in reaching scale economies, the risk of cultural standardization is evident. If, due to interactivity, the participating cultural model where the users have an active role, will prevail, the offer will be more personalized and the impact on cultural diversity will be positive. The fact the new media will be not mass-media offers better opportunities to minority cultures to express themselves in an information arena tailored by the users, outside centralized control. The de-localization promoted by the new media can constitute a push both to globalism (i.e. the reformulation of cultures outside their original context with the risk of loss of traditions and ways of living) and to "tribalism" (i.e. the identification only with a local community, without recognition of larger levels). Nevertheless, cohesion and safeguard of local cultures, traditionally regarded as diverging objectives, can be conciliated within the information society. The dematerilaIïzation of the cultures makes the offer of information and communication explode anti will have a large positive impact on the difision and on the memorization of the information, anti therefore, of the cultural heritage. The new communities emerging within the information society may have

Cultural identity has always been a continuous process where the cultures have been changed due to the influence of several factors, including technological changes. Within the information society, the European cultural diversity is going to face severe upheavals. The final impact is controversial. On one side the new technologies themselves can be a mean for the difision, valorization and safeguard of minority cultures, on the other there is a serious risk of a possible standardization of the cultures due to commercial reasons. The information society can be considered both as a community or a market place. If the latter aspect will prevail and the majority of the services will be offered by large multinationals, interested in reaching scale economies, the risk of cultural standardization is evident. If, due to interactivity, the participating cultural model where the users have an active role, will prevail, the offer will be more personalized and the impact on cultural diversity will be positive. The fact the new media will be not mass-media offers better opportunities to minority cultures to express themselves in an information arena tailored by the users, outside centralized control. The de-localization promoted by the new media can constitute a push both to globalism (i.e. the reformulation of cultures outside their original context with the risk of loss of traditions and ways of living) and to "tribalism" (i.e. the identification only with a local community, without recognition of larger levels). Nevertheless, cohesion and safeguard of local cultures, traditionally regarded as diverging objectives, can be conciliated within the information society. The dematerilaIïzation of the cultures makes the offer of information and communication explode anti will have a large positive impact on the difision and on the memorization of the information, anti therefore, of the cultural heritage. The new communities emerging within the information society may have

Autor externo

Mariagrazia Forcella (Bergamo, Italy)