International Conference on
Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication (CATaC'06)
28 June - 1 July 2006
University of Tartu, Estonia
Neither Global Village nor Homogenizing Commodification:
Diverse Cultural, Ethnic, Gender and Economic Environments
The biennial CATaC conference series continues to provide an international forum for the presentation and discussion of current research on how diverse cultural attitudes shape the implementation and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The conference series brings together scholars from around the globe who provide diverse perspectives, both in terms of the specific culture(s) they highlight in their presentations and discussions, and in terms of the discipline(s) through which they approach the conference theme.
The 1990s' hopes for an "electronic global village" have largely been shunted aside by the Internet's explosive diffusion. This diffusion was well described by Marx - all that is solid melts into air - and was predicted by postmodernists. The diffusion of CMC technologies quickly led to many and diverse internets. A single "Internet", whose identity and characteristics might be examined as a single unity, has not materialised. An initially culturally and gender homogenous Internet came more and more to resemble an urban metropolis. Along the way, in the commercialization of the Internet and the Web, "cultural diversity" gets watered down and exchanges strong diversity for a homogenous interchangeability. Such diversity thereby becomes commodified and serves a global capitalism that tends to foster cultural homogenization.
CATaC'06 continues our focus on the intersections of culture, technology, and communication, beginning with an emphasis on continued critique of the assumptions, categories, methodologies, and theories frequently used to analyse these. At the same time, CATaC'06 takes up our characteristic focus on ethics and justice in the design and deployment of CMC technologies. We particularly focus on developing countries facilitated by "on the ground" approaches in the work of NGOs, governmental agencies, etc., in ways that preserve and foster cultural identity and diversity. By simultaneously critiquing and perhaps complexifying our theories and assumptions, on the one hand, and featuring "best practices" approaches to CMC in development work, on the other hand, CATaC'06 aims towards a middle ground between a putative "global village" and homogenizing commodification. Such middle ground fosters cultural diversity, economic and social development, and more successful cross-cultural communication online.
The conference proceedings, along with a subsequent book and special issues in both print and electronic journals that collect conference papers, have become primary resources in the growing field of both theoretical and practical literature on culture, technology, and communication.
Dr Charles Ess
Distinguished Research Professor Interdisciplinary Studies
Springfield MO 65802 USA
Dr Fay Sudweeks
School of Information Technology
Murdoch WA 6150 Australia