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Innovative or improved ways of doing things; More equitable access to technology or electronic information
Why I support the development of an International Data Network.
by Oliver Seely, California State University Dominguez Hills
The incidents I’m going to relate below are things that would never have happened if the Internet were not available to me. Though bordering on the trivial, and perhaps not the kinds of things that would look good in a proposal, they still represent a lively and certainly not unproductive experimentation with the new world of electronic information transmission.
I am the listowner of XCULT-L, the International Intercultural Newsletter. The host node is at Pennsylvania State University. As listowner, I do all the custodial stuff from my study at home in Lakewood, California (via the Internet node at my university). Right now the big discussion is whether there is a conspiracy to control the media in the U.S.
The members of XCULT-L tend to be somewhat intense. Although a list goal is to improve intercultural communication, many members come “wearing their culture on a shoulder as if it were a big chip” and are just waiting for someone to knock it off.
It was this list that made me realize something peculiar about lists in general. Out of every hundred members of a list, only 2-4 ever take an active part in a discussion. This is true also of CAUSERIE (see above).
Many issues have evoked strong emotional responses: The rights of women in various cultures, female circumcision and “whose custom is it anyway”. At the beginning of that discussion the world of Islam was unfairly charged with having originated that custom, but the membership was set straight by one knowledgeable subscriber who convinced us that it is a custom that was practiced by various ancient Christian and Muslim communities who likely got the practice from more ancient cultures dating back to Old Testament times and before.
We are now 304 subscribers from 25 countries. Only about 40 of us are non-U.S. subscribers, a sad fact of life, but somewhat alleviated by the fact that many U.S. subscribers are either immigrants or second generation Americans interested in other cultures.
I have been the listowner of XCULT-L for about a year. During that time there have been two deaths among its membership. That seems to be a relatively high number for such a small group. If that number turns out not to be a fluke, that is, if the trend continues, it will support a suspicion that has recently grown on me: that e-mail and electronic networks, like home shopping channels on cable TV, open a new world to the home- bound. That the new world is devoid of prejudices based on age, race, status and handicaps (because one cannot yet see the person with whom he/she is communicating), a completely new social dynamic develops. This is not the place to discuss such a development but it is at once both sobering and amusing.