Today I read an interesting article about the influence of ICTs on indigenous cultures. The question was if ICTs could be used to preserve indigenous cultural issues such as language or if the particular society gets westernised* by introducing ICTs. The interesting but far to short article can be found in the link section. For some basic knowledge on ICTs and development policy look here.
My point of view is that the introduction of ICTs is vital for these societies. Sooner or later most of them will get influenced by western ways of life by different things such as television, clothes or the golden ‘M’ shining bright above certain fast food temples. The sooner they realize that there is something that has to be preserved the better it is. ICTs offer the possibility to preserve the cultural values as well as they are used to introduce new values. Other influential intrusions can not be used to preserve cultural issues – they do only westernize the society. Take for example clothes. Shops selling clothes which could be watched at the walk of fame in the US might make people want to wear these clothes rather than their own traditional ones. How could they contribute preserving cultural issues? A mesh-up of blue Jeans and traditional tunics? Do not think so.
On the other hand… a webpage containing traditional meals, ceremonies and what-so-ever-cultural-issues, written in the native language is easily set up (if the language uses characters known by current word-processing programs – several projects work on this issue). Well-done, cultural issues preserved as far as they can not be forgotten anymore. It is obvious that it takes more than a simple website to preserve cultural issues – but it is a beginning. Radio and television can be used to announce certain meetings, cultural events or holidays which otherwise will be forgotten. It takes, of course, a keen government and society which is aware of the possibilities as well as of the obstacles of new technologies. Especially ICTs are, in my opinion, a good tool to help societies preserve their cultural heritage although they introduce western and eastern issues at the same time. The point is to make ICT count. You will not be able to do anything against the introduction of new values but you will be ble to do something to strengthen the cultural heritage and help preserving it.
When used carefully and thoughtfully, ICT is a great tool for development as well as for the preservation of cultural heritages.
*I use this term because every reader can understand what it is meant for. In order to achieve accuracy this term should be defined properly before using it. In this case it will only refer to values which a predominant in countries such as the United States, England or Germany. By spreading them, a certain change will occur in a particular society. For example introducing fast food restaurants might transform the behaviour of consuming food.