The Internet as a global facilitator? Time will show

The very interesting questions posed by Future Challenges Blog Carnival regarding the creation of a “bigger space for cultural similarities” or a “new supranational borderless culture” through the Internet are only at first glance easy to answer. As they are referring to a dynamic reality, they are in fact complex. Hence, I do not pretend to offer a complete analysis or even solutions. Instead, I would like to raise further questions and expound the problems of this issue, e.g. in terms of sustainability, a topic more and more relevant. This will lead to the question whether the Internet can be a facilitator for supranational dialogue and cooperation (or not).

First of all, let me say that the Internet is only one of the media and that other media as e.g. the television, the newspapers or the radio are also very important and influential, particularly in regions where the Internet is not yet developed. Or in countries where access to the Internet is limited or where its use is forbidden. That is why it can be questionable to talk about “the Internet” as a unique and global reality.

Against this background, I am wondering if the Internet can help to create a kind of common global understanding, e.g. a common understanding of sustainability. Well, it depends on many factors. The Internet is just an instrument. If the general situation is “good”, the Internet could eventually be a facilitator. The question is whether the Internet could help us to get out of situations of crisis. It will not necessarily help to solve e.g. the problem of hunger. Whether or not it supports changes also depends on the boundaries set by e.g. governments, but also, for example, on the strength and level of freedom of the Internet community.

The Internet is part of the world’s current economic, political and social developments. Its advantages can be useful for different projects. The possibility of sharing information worldwide and simultaneously is very fascinating and eventually promising. Hence, the Internet is an instrument that serves a lot of similar and also contradictory plans. I would say that in a world characterized by cooperation, the Internet would probably be one of the most relevant instruments of communication, just as much as in a world characterized by competition. At the moment the processes and projects of competition and cooperation coexist, as well as the efforts in favour of sustainability and against sustainability.

The question whether the Internet is an accelerator of an intercultural dialogue or not does not have only one possible answer. It could be, but it depends on the context. If it was an accelerator, crucial global problems should have been resolved 20 years after the adventof the Internet.

I would therefore say that the Internet is a young and important instrument that should not be underestimated, but it should not be overestimated, either. Its relevance has to be evaluated depending on the general situation and the context.

And we still have not talked about the contents … (to be continued)

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