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Cultural Convergence and Cultural Diversity in Digital Greece

Next up at WebSci '09 is a panel session on cultural convergence and digital technology, with representatives of the Greek creative industries sector. The first speaker is PASOK MP Maria Damanaki, though,who notes the importance of the Web and of digital technology for culture and creativity. Any form of human activity which is not expressed in a digital form could even be considered to be obsolete, she says, and there are new horizons for the creators of culture in this digital environment - namely, cultural convergence.

This is a revolution: technology does not just change communication, but our very social perceptions of space, time,and culture. Digital technology forms the essence of creation, and offers completely new paths; citizens may not yet fully understand this, however, and it must be asked who is in control of such technological changes. Convergence,at this point, just happens, as an apparently unstoppable force, and we must adapt a careful, conscious stance that uses the benefits and manages the risks of such developments.

We need to define more precisely the framework of cultural convergence that we desire - does it lead to the prevalence of the powerful,do we want to build an online environment offering free and easy access to cultural wealth? How do we deal with the dominance of the English language in the online world? Will the development of global digital networks eradicate cultural diversity in the same way that the European colonists eradicated cultural diversity in the lands they settled? Or can European union directives and other policies manage to preserve cultural diversity? At the same time, how can universal ideas (such as universal human rights) be upheld and enforced?

And what about intellectual property rights in the digital landscape? Digital goods need to be freely available to everyone, but we must also support the rights of their creators. How can a free cultural environment be combined with the desire to define degrees of freedom of the exchange of digital rights - for example through the adoption of Creative Commons licencing, which as yet hasn't been effectively introduced in Greece.

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