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Internet Governance 25 November 2009

Promoting Cultural Diversity through Cultural Heritage in Cyberspace

Chair: Fekri Hassan, Professor Archeology UK

Intro: Knowledge is to do with interactions between people in society – individuals, groups, government, professional societies, etc, each with their own agendas. How do we tie society to IT? Interactions  based on a Knowledge society plays a major role in the production use and application of the knowledge that provides an input into every aspect of human endeavour.  Knowledge is to do with the interactions between people in society (indivs, groups, government, professionals, etc) each with their own agendas. Social cohesion results from accessibility to knowledge and the embodiment of societal experiences through culture. Knowledge is used through its creation, dissemination and preservation. UNESCO is involved in a major project to digitize manuscripts into high quality online formats. The World Heritage Programme assists to preserve historical sites that fulfil a certain set of criteria. Adding a site to the UNESCO programme gives the site and its country an economic advantage.  A concern of UNESCO is how a given society is portrayed in school text books. There is a danger of stereotyping a culture based on what they remember from these resources. Actual information about valuable cultural artifacts add to the authenticity of the information we are passing on to future generations. Panel members from Egypt, and India described and explained projects involving cultural artefacts and information that is being digitized and loaded onto websites with local content.

Work in the Pacific

I was able to explain a similar project in the Pacific in association with the University of Wollongong to preserve information about cultural artefacts from the Cook Islands (and other Pacific Islands) which are currently being stored at the Australian university and displayed on their Virtual Museum. The purpose of the partnership is for the Cook Islands to provide relevant and authentic facts and stories about each of the artefacts so that they can be used as a learning resource by children in the Pacific, about their cultural heritage. I explained that the advantage for these ancient cultures in the Middle East was that they had a written language which recorded stories and facts about their evolving culture. In the Pacific a written history did not exist, and it was important for us to capture any knowledge from the old people who are still alive to tell it, and from any other resources that we can find. I was able to make contact with Benjamin White – Head of Intellectual Propery of the British Library who has offered to assist us with any information which might be available from their wide range of resources. This would be very helpful and strengthened the networking capacity of a forum such as the IGF.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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