Sunday, 1 September 2013

"How might online identities reshape our understanding of culture, ethnicity and gender?" by Johannes Leuschke


When looking at the big issues of today's world, for instance the war against terror or the constantly unequal distribution of prosperity, you almost always find that these global issues are ascribed to cultural, ethnic or gender related differences. Be it the incomprehension of Islamic rites or gender discrimination; a better understanding of culture, ethnicity and gender is a main key for a better, more peaceful world. Therefore, one challenge for the summit is focusing on how online identities might reshape this understanding.

The Internet is used for many different purposes; on one hand it offers a huge amount of distraction from daily life while on the other it helps to organize it. Using it can be funny, informative and productive at the same time. However, the main point in this context is that it enables the users to enjoy the benefits of a linked-up and thus interactive world, in which borders do not seem to exist anymore. This borderless connectivity is a huge chance which is, still, accompanied by the necessity of engaging oneself in the cultures one now has access to.

A huge amount of people use social media - a Facebook profile, a Twitter account and up to a certain extent, even a telephone number are so called online identities. The Internet, as it is often said, has the opportunity to make small voices louder and equal to others. Through their online identities, people express themselves in a way that was not possible in the past, and taking a look at the ideas on the ITU crowdsourcing platform, many contributors seize on this matter of fact. The variety of ideas in this category ranges from educational programs to virtual summits, from creativity projects to culture-based social networking. Some conceptions are rather theoretical, while others offer concrete solutions. One can find a lot of interesting and highly productive proposals, but one will easily recognize that a vast majority of these contain the creation of something new, be it a virtual classroom for cultural studies or even a whole online museum for ethnic affairs. However, establishing something new is not absolutely necessary to face this challenge because, as explained, online identities already exist and the majority of the people on our planet make use of them every day.

To draw a conclusion, one can definitely say that ICT’s offer a strong possibility to reshape cultural awareness in various ways. The Internet especially is an amazing opportunity, not only to become informed about new cultures, but at the same time to get in touch with people of these different backgrounds through online identities.

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