New Media in SEE - Part 5

posted by usha on 2005/10/23 08:31

[ New Media in SEE ]

The conference e-society.MK which started on October 20, 2005 is dealing with topics, such as "e-government", "free access to the media", "cyber-crime & e-business", etc. It gathers international speakers from the media, the economy, the research/science sectors and from NGO's.

The conference is organised by Foundation Metamorphosis, with the support of the OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje. And actually, it is the name of the foundation, Metamorphosis which caught my attention, since I wrote my PhD thesis on (more traditional) metamorphoses in/of literature. There was a tendency having started in the late 1980's to combine metamorphosis with the Internet and the cyber-world. In doing so, the individual metamorphosis vanished step by step and was replaced by a common sense of "flux". Thus, a world of constant transition and processing events took over the imaging of the miraculous and terrifying break in a natural order of the perseverance of things that remained mostly only within the names (or language).

The Foundation Metamorphosis fosters the development and improvement of democracy and prosperity, its main goal is the "improvement of the living conditions and promotion of positive social changes through usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)". To do so, its activities and projects tackle the bad situation of IT knowledge and usage in Macedonia. A lot of its projects seem to be promising, especially its dedication to the improvement of education. How this should effectively be done while only 27,4 % of Macedonians possess computers and even less Internet connections remains open. The foundation provides seminars in its classrooms with all the necessary technological devices, but back at home and in the own school it will be difficult for the children and young people to continue e-discussions, e-business and so on.

I don't want to question the honorable intentions of foundations like Foundation Metamorphosis, but to bridge the gap of "democracy and prosperity" needs more than the new media, promising a lot, but most often restricted to a certain class of people, as has been shown also in the study of Eliza Eranus, Sarolta Láng and László Letenyei. Connecting social and ecnonomic work on images like "metamorphosis" feeds high expectations, since the idea of an order of things is nurtured which shall almost everything almost effortlessly make possible by the mere following of the (positive) transformational nature of this order. Sometimes, I suspect this encouraging world-view is more necessary for the ones spreading the "good IT-news" than the ones receiving it. Yet, the terrifying aspects of metamorphosis should not be forgotten. Ovidian metamorphosis also means the loss of speech (while in modern times, IT is creating a voice to be heard globally). The panels and public discussions of the "e-society.MK" conference are aware of that, too. IT-business goes along with cyber-crimes such as pornography, and the more efficient trafficking in women and children. Order - whichever - has always to be constructed, it is not given, neither as a persistent one nor as one in flux, and metamorphosis keeps on to be a powerful, but nevertheless terrifying phenomenon.


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