Culture and the New Media Technologies
Sally Jane Norman
This report attempts to pinpoint key cultural issues raised by new media technologies. While coverage of the heteroclite practices encountered throughout the world cannot be provided by a brief, single-author paper of this kind, the examples discussed have been selected from a wide array of countries, structures, and thinkers fueling constructive debate. Through their diversity, it is hoped that these examples offer a fair reflection of the complex international situation.
The documents which served as a starting point, namely Our Creative Diversity (1) and In From the Margins (2), trace much of the terrain covered in this report. Conservatism within many government cultural bodies, lacunae in training, and the need for bottom-up policy-making are clearly described in these documents. As a modest complement, the present report draws on much material gleaned from grass roots cultural organisations making exemplary use of new media technologies (3). Despite their aptitude to guide new policy orientations, these structures are frequently overlooked because of their low profile. Conversely, heavy-weight institutions dominate reviews of cultural practice because they tend to be well equipped and maintain a well-primed public image. Since this makes them convenient case-study material, circuitous reasoning sets in : many documents discuss only well-known structures, despite their representing just one - albeit very visible - manifestation of cultural life.
Certain transversal themes have not been treated as individual chapters : this is the case for changes in labour and consumption patterns. Similarly, the question of womens access to media technology is linked to general infrastructure and, above all, education issues (many pioneering figures mentioned in the following pages are women, whose work itself stands as a strong gender statement). This report raises copyright issues with respect to concepts of cultural legacy and creative liberty, but proper analysis of international copyright legislation requires the competence of a jurist. The most controversial and potentially most decisive WIPO draft treaty with respect to new media was ultimately withdrawn from the Geneva 96 conference agenda (Treaty on Intellectual Property Rights in Databases). The approved Copyright Treaty gives creators of copyright material exclusive rights to make that material available to the public, including via on-demand, interactive internet transmissions (4). This treaty, like the Performances and Phonograms Treaty - and unlike the rejected draft Database Treaty - apparently integrates adequate provisions for fair use and public good. Policy proposals authored by supranational bodies like the European Community (5) call for comprehensive review by international law and copyright specialists.
Challenges posed by the new communication and information technologies
Recent media technologies including the CD-ROM, CD-I, digitised broadcast, BBS, intranet and internet services, are increasingly drawn on in the course of professional and leisure activities, welfare and health services, education and culture. Unfortunately, the considerable attention paid to these technologies by user countries almost systematically undermines the fact that most of the earth's inhabitants are still oblivious to and beyond the reach of these tools. Inequality on our planet, notably in terms of technological status, is nothing new, but is today ironically highlit by hype surrounding new media, all too often championed for their «universal» portent (1). Yet new media technologies will not represent any «universal» benefits unless we manage to reduce the gap between the info-rich and the info-poor; the humanist potential of these tools entirely depends on access. That said, their potential is huge, as modern communication and information infrastructures allow social reorganisation which short-circuits geographic and legislative frontiers that are the mainstay of national and economic hierarchies. Not since the invention of the printing press have we been so powerfully equipped to transform social practices at every level. But catch phrase comparisons of the digital and Gutenberg revolutions overlook one thing : now, as then, hundreds of thousands of millions of people do not know how to read and write.
The fact that new media technologies can contribute to key sectors like education reinforces the urgency of their wider implantation. Computer literacy can neither precede nor replace conventional literacy skills, but it can valorise them by enabling those who have acquired them to consolidate and exchange knowledge through vast, multicultural, responsive information spaces. Striving for generalised technological access presupposes review of the schematic north/south, third-fourth world cartography that usually serves as a reference for humanitarian planning, to take into account forms of poverty prevalent in and on the fringes of modern metropolitan regions (2). Indeed, explosive ghettoisation on the outskirts of the worlds most sophisticated urban areas puts them on an inglorious par with certain desolate regions : they have just as much to gain from social reorganisation calling on communication and information technologies.
Amongst other things, these tools can establish and reinforce cultural identity, a condition of effective social integration. Manuka Henare underlines the importance of associating cultural integrity and economic development : « If indigenous people are given recognition and autonomy, then economic development can be a means towards sustaining tribal character and asserting communal identity and communal rights. In this way business can be the means of cultural survival and indigenous people can promote their own cultural agenda alongside the trends of globalisation.»(3) Henare specifically refers to indigenous development, but this view of integration based on identity, recognition, and autonomy might be borne in mind when elaborating cultural policy for new media technologies. As opposed to individuals lacking identity and purpose, motivated groups are likely to experiment to forge community mores - including work structures - in keeping with their philosophies. In addition to inducing spectacular changes in labour patterns, as in telework and cottage computing, media technologies may subtend less dramatic but major transformations by leading welded cultural groups to assume active social roles.
While access is the key to broader, constructive use of new media technologies, network access already risks being compromised within the connected world because of sometimes cunningly disguised forms of avarice. Profit-driven consortia are seeking ways of taxing flow and consultation of currently « free » knowledge (via ownership of networks and servers, hard- and software, patents on data supports, duplication levies, etc.) (4). Artifices to rarefy available bandwidth may constrict internet activity by enforcing increasingly inert, receiver-type behaviour on the web, whereas its essential virtues derive from the fact that it affords engaged, participatory user behaviour. Moves in this direction - toward « push » consumerism as opposed to « pull » exploitation - are being made by telecommunications magnates keen to optimise their satellite and digital holdings by fusing the internet and television into a single passive medium, albeit « enriched » with a dazzling choice of purportedly interactive programmes (5). A major challenge that faces policy-makers with regard to new media technologies is to ensure that their unique potential as vehicles of truly active cultural exchange is upheld.
The impact of new media technologies on cognition
At the same time as new media technologies trigger questioning about cultural identities and exchange at a generic level, they pose philosophical questions of individual identity, notably through the digitised induction of sensory experience (1). Powerfully interfaced digital territories offer inscribable space for building and storing information, but also inhabitable space where we can physically grapple with objects and forces: through binary code, we can exchange parameters corresponding to sights, sounds, and even touch with remote human or mechanical partners. Shared computer displays, where geographically distant experts jointly guide delicate manipulations as in certain types of surgery, can be enhanced by integrating haptics interfaces for hands-on assistance. Chemists testing for new compounds are coming to grips with computer-simulated atomic landscapes, using force feed-back mechanisms to identify potential binding sites and propensities. These configurations are building a corpus of knowledge founded in sense experience, positing «bodypoints» rather than viewpoints. Fine-tuned sensations can be shared by scattered subjects thanks to motion platforms, data suits, and ingeniously crafted acoustic and visual spaces. Perception and cognition are being explored so that mental processing tasks can be allocated to different sensory channels, optimising complex data assimilation.
To explore this hybrid realm of « semi-carnal knowledge », we must learn to express ourselves differently, revitalising language that has tended to censor gut feeling as we graduated to supposedly more elevated spheres of intellection. This raises heady epistemological questions, since the abstract conceptions which engendered digital technology in the first place are suddenly at odds with their most recent, most prodigious inventions, namely interfaces reinstating the body as prime instrument and source of knowledge. Issues of distributed experience and identity through telepresence - familiar since the telephone allowed us to vocally and emotionally invest distant spaces - are acquiring renewed importance with new interfaces. To come to terms with this radical technology in creative ways, we need to learn from different philosophical visions describing our place in the world, our ideational and corporeal experience, and our relation to the environment - real or virtual.
Arenas where such debate can occur without the dominance of Western mainstream philosophy are unfortunately rare, despite cyberspaces appropriation of concepts from other traditions. As major corporations prepare the next « Virtual Humans » conference and negotiate standardisation of digital agents in shared virtual spaces, many people ignore the Sanskrit origin of the term avatar that designates these agents. Yet concepts of self-representation, embodiment, and virtual space are encountered within most cultures, and if we really want cyberspace to live up to its reputation for universality, these concepts sorely need to be discussed and enriched in multicultural settings. International nomadic events devoted to cyberculture, like the American-born Cyberconf which has begun to roam in Europe and is hopefully soon bound for Asia, play a modest but determinant role in promoting exchange between thinkers from different cultures (2). Much more is needed.
The epistemological interrogations raised by new media technologies address « hard » science as much as « soft » culture. Cognitivists and infometrics specialists are studying the emergence of global thinking strategies by tracking movements in the networks. Genetic algorithms are imbuing computers with evolving manifestations of artificial life, and digitised organic phenomena exhale spectral vitality. This hybridisation of the living and the mathematical through virtual space is collapsing previously infallible categories in Western thinking. To quote Donna Haraway, one of todays most influential thinkers on scientific culture and new technologies, «Communications sciences and biology are constructions of natural-technical objects of knowledge in which the difference between machine and organism is thoroughly blurred; mind, body, and tool are on very intimate terms. The « multinational » material organization of the production and reproduction of daily life and the symbolic organization of the production and reproduction of culture and imagination seem equally implicated. The boundary-maintaining images of base and superstructure, public and private, or material and ideal never seemed more feeble. » (3)
The new media technologies' challenge to art
The hermeneutic function of art is essential to humanity. Art stretches the imagination and lets us entertain new visions, enhancing our capacity to adapt to an unknowable future. The symbolisation and interpretation of life through art is a common, constant, distinctive feature of civilisation. The blurring of concepts due to accelerating technologisation today puts pressing demands on this hermeneutics. New technology is engendering complex forms of life that art can only effectively symbolise by employing new technology. Yet only the poetics of art can give us the perspective to better grasp contemporary life in its complexity. The place of artistic process in society is more important than ever; where and how this process is actually occurring and should occur is another matter. Differing opinions are encountered in the corpus of culture and media reflection called « Medien ZK », a networked forum devoted to net criticism created in 1995 by theorists, critics, and artists (1).
New media centres such as the InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo (2), Ars Electronica in Linz (3), and the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) in Karlsruhe (4) form a permanent, well-equipped relay for international art and technology, and catalyse reflection and creation. They will hopefully be attentive to links with smaller centres : reproducible, potentially ubiquitous digital creations offer opportunities for modest museums and galleries previously unable to exhibit unique, costly art works. In return, the latter sites may enrich cultural networks with their own unique, digitised works. This type of exchange depends on one of the stakes of information highway engineering, namely the maintenance of practicable links between super expressways and small byways.
Overall, though, initiatives geared towards creation with new media creation are heavily outweighed by investment in works from the past. Digitisation is being put to extraordinary use to uphold heritage, but there is a flagrant lack of bridging between the specialists of art history and the artists supposed to be creating tomorrows art history (5). This poses burning questions : is our cultural mission to be summed up as preserving art from the past in forms likely to increase its vintage value? In our zealous protection of bygone art, do we not run the risk of sacrificing contemporary creation ? Will the turn of the third millennium go down in history as the heyday of brokers of antiquity ? Do media technologies demand us to act as selfless devotees of past culture in order to enrich that of the future ?
An unbalanced situation arises when powerful technologies are systematically assigned to top-heavy heritage undertakings, while artists seeking to play a vital hermeneutic role in modern society are expected to go on gesticulating with tools they consider obsolete (e.g. paint brushes and chisels), but which have the advantage of being cheaper than computers and ISDN lines. Many cultural authorities cannot understand the interest of cross-disciplinary projects with new media, and ignore them on the grounds that they do not « fit in » with predetermined categories and funding structures (6). In the Netherlands, the authorities have formalised links with advisory artists groups to review funding applications, to avoid deadlock situations and/or inappropriate allocations. At the same time, thoughtful politics has allowed the risk of peer group self-promotion to be bypassed (7).
While new media technologies challenge art, artists challenge these technologies by pushing them to and beyond their limits. It is not unusual for industrial developers to call on artists for alpha- or beta-testing, since their often unpredictable demands on products before they hit the shelf are tough tool acceptability tests. Some companies create sites for artists to access powerful industrial resources, but their task is tricky insofar as innovative technologies tend to leave their mark on works built with them : artists may be unjustly accused of « selling out », and companies of ab/using creative talent to advertising ends. Although controversy of this kind appears inevitable in the unmapped world of contemporary culture, it could be tempered by better informed cultural education on contemporary art issues. An exemplary strategy adopted by the German National Research Center for Information Technology consists of employing artists alongside scientists and engineers, to nurture ongoing dialogue between disciplines (8). An alternative tactic adopted by artists wishing to escape the normative influence of imposed materials is to become technology builders themselves. Hence, for Russian artist and software designer Lev Manovich, « the aesthetic is the interface » : just as Malevich radicalised conceptual art through his White Square on White, todays computerised avant-garde integrates conceptual breakthroughs into tool design (9).
New kinds of creativity synergising old and new media
The multisensory potential of computer data, and the fact that a unique trajectory through information space can be actively pursued as a function of individual interests rather than everyone being tied to a single, predefined path, endows digital data banks with distinct dynamics compared with those of print-bound information resources. Paradoxically, though, since learning within modern technologised countries has gradually been imposed through an authoritative corpus of texts, these countries would not seem to be all that well prepared to exploit their new tools. Yet numerous peoples have developed sophisticated repositories of knowledge calling on non-literary traditions: highly codified oral and gestural narratives and iconographic recordings abound within the human heritage. Without trying to skirt around the importance of conventional reading and writing skills as a vital prerequisite for social integration and fulfilment (1), we have much to learn from forms of hitherto unpublishable fluency, to optimise our use of new media.
Impressive cultural and historical links have been built by Indian researcher Ranjit Makkuni. In the course of work on the recontextualisation of artifacts in museums, Makkuni devised an electronic sketch book based on Tibetan Thangka painting (2). More recently, he completed a vast multimedia work, installation and net-based, inspired by the Gita-Govinda, a 12th century love poem interpreted through paintings, music, and dance (3). Makkuni designed the physical exhibit layout and virtual multimedia organisation to emphasise the multidimensionality of our routes of access to a cultural space : the poem can be accessed at narrative, interpretative and reflective levels. The Gita-Govinda work is part of the Active Learning Project at Xerox PARC, which has been dedicated to media development for cultural learning for many years.
Exemplary research is likewise undertaken by South American artist Lily Diaz, whose analyses of early Mesoamerican codices employed by Nahua/Aztec Indians, and palimpsests compiled by Spanish cosmographer-chronicler Juan Lopez de Velasco, inspire modern « hypermedia » realms, integrating text and graphical interfaces. According to Diaz, in our current era of exponential technological innovation, « It may be to our advantage to investigate how antiquated modes of thought affect the design and application of the new tools we are in the process of developing. These new tools can be used to formulate new metaphors to better describe both the past and the pluralistic environment we presently inhabit. » (4)
A web project by American graphic designer Delle Maxwell adopts the ancient Aztec city Tenochtitlan as its starting point (5). Historical material is incorporated in the 3D model enhanced with sound, which reconstitutes the centre of the Aztec Empire as Hernan Cortes discovered it in 1519. Archaeological data, bibliographic and reference materials are provided in this web site, a testbed for VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) which targets the educational context. Maxwell developed her project under the aegis of Silicon Graphics, and the constant, unpredictable demands she placed on SGI tools were welcomed by the firm as research and development incentives. Tenochtitlan offers another case of blurring between corporate sponsorship and cultural initiatives, overriding the art/ industry opposition.
Approaches like these, which link « exotic » cultural resources with the scholarly and industrial pursuits of technologised modernity, should be encouraged by the proponents of new cultural policy, and tied into media development projects. These original visions of ancient cultures through new technologies appear all the more valuable in that they creatively challenge positions adopted by certain institutions which consider themselves the sole and rightful interpreters of « True Culture ». Yet one of the strengths of digital data is precisely its aptitude for integration into an infinite variety of works, conveying multiple interpretations and visions. Instead of wasting energy fighting stalwart defenders of absolute history, in itself ethically untenable, we can henceforth more positively encourage and muster new energies, by multiplying cultural recreations of history.
Copyright issues are central here : drawing on and recreating from existing data is just as essential to cultural activity as to scientific research, and has been ever since the first inscriptions. But the reproducibility of digital data makes this issue particularly sensitive : « It is undeniable that confusion and suspicion over licensing copyrighted materials for multimedia are currently barriers to some kinds of creative work. These barriers come as much from large media conglomerates bulk-buying exclusive electronic rights to copyrighted material as from individuals worried that the integrity of their work might be damaged. » (6) Some of the most inventive new media activity, from reconstitution works to house music and music video, exploits their capacity to tap into a vast collective memory. Those who abusively limit this creative activity are dealing a crippling blow at our cultural future.
Cyberculture and existing forms of cultural expression: consolidation of digital capital
New media technologies are heavily solicited in a move towards increasingly conservationist, not to say conservative attitudes to culture, considered as an untapped goldmine - literally and metaphorically - for the immediate and distant future (this shift towards culture seen as « bankable » patrimony (1) is borne out by telling changes like the renaming of Great Britain's Ministry of Culture, now called the Ministry of Heritage). Many factors explain the close links between a conservationist approach to culture and new media technologies : the reproducibility and ubiquity afforded by networks and digital media mean that data can be made permanently available to communities from all sectors of activity. The possibility of revalorising fading aspects of human history opens up formidable opportunities - euphoric new media defenders echo the humanist ideals of Comenius or the Enlightenment encyclopedists. Manichean oppositions of humanists and technologists are caricatures at best, but today's situation is complex in that the digital revolution has engendered a set of cultural premises and actors with disconcertingly mixed values. Altruistic foundations may embark on commercial ventures to cover costs and thus uphold their autonomy. Conversely, mercantile businesses may allocate resources to cultural institutions through a genuine interest in the arts, a desire to redeem their public image, a strategy to open up new lines of research and development, a scheme to alleviate company taxes, or for all these reasons.
Given the cost of technologies for tasks like digital reproduction of vanished or vulnerable art works, cultural organisations alone cannot assume this financial burden. Industrial partnerships take on many forms : the Mécenat Technologique et Scientifique at Electricité de France (EDF) has launched novel sponsorship by making state-of-the-art technologies available for cultural projects. Hence, prehistoric paintings in the Cosquer Cave, which are fragile and difficult to access as the cave is submerged 37 meters under the Mediterranean, are being digitised using techniques implemented with sensors developed for nuclear plant maintenance. The Cosquer visualisations are freely available on the internet. Here, deployment of high-end industrial tools allows otherwise impossible cultural tasks to be accomplished, and produces an effective public relations action with high educational value (2).
More traditional cultural heritage initiatives using new media technologies are anchored in library-type practices. The Universal Library Project, based at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, intends to make all the authored works of mankind available through public networks (3). Other libraries target specialised users : Shakespeare's works and translations of Greek and Roman classics have their own internet homes, as do many certain women's studies departments. MEDLIB is a virtual library network planned for the Mediterranean region, as a feature of UNESCO's Memory of the World programme (4). This programme encompasses archives from an exceptional range of geocultural settings and disciplines, including Tamil medical manuscripts, Slovakian codices, and traditional music archives from Tibet.
Growing numbers of data bases exploit the proclivity of media technologies to unite texts and graphics, sound and moving images within freely explorable virtual constructs. The Bibliotheca universalis, a G7 initiative, proposes multimedia versions of major works and artifacts of the world's cultural and scientific heritage (5). In addition to encouraging large-scale digitisation, this project is pushing for international documentary management standards. A comparable undertaking is the System for Universal Media Searching (SUMS) developed by the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology and earmarked for development by G7 (6). This began as an interface to local databases, then was extended to include seamless links with the internet. The Museum Educational Site Licensing Project (MESL), launched in 1994 by American universities, libraries, and museums with funding from the Getty Art History Information Program, investigates « standards and mechanisms for distributing images and data among institutions, mounting and delivering this information to university users, developing tools for incorporating images and data into the instructional process, and developing parameters for licensing this type of content. »(7)
While librarians all over the world are grouping to promote free public access to literature and reference works through the internet, there is a sharp contrast between cutting edge research to develop seamlessly combinable multimedia bases, and grass-roots effort to compile and present archives in modest text bases (8). The South Asia Gopher (SAG) is a collection of information resources edited and designed by David Magier, from Columbia University. SAG is as prolifically useful as it is unspectacular : it offers substantial bibliographic resources, lists South Asian language and font software, publishes directories of South Asian research institutes and NGO's, announces forthcoming cultural events, academic postings, etc. The Bombay Library Network (Bonet) is operated along similar lines by a small team at the National Centre for Software Technology in Bombay, also responsible for the international gateway of the Indian Education and Resource Network (ERNET) (9). Bonet catalogues member library resources, ensures an inter-library lending service, a photocopy and book order request service, and an online information retrieval system for computer and software technology. It also organises a monthly seminar to promote exchange of know-how.
These examples stand as precious reminders of the importance of appropriate tool use : austere information servers may be convivial assembly points for a motivated community, while others go unnoticed because they lack a functional core beneath their seductive façades. Clearly, this does not justify leaving poorer organisations under-equipped on the pretext that they get by well enough on minimum means, but it does warrant reflection, since consultation of sites well-endowed with multimedia attributes (animated graphics, sound, etc.) requires much more computing power and loading time than that of frugal text bases. As too many cybernauts know, the biggest computer is not necessarily an asset when networking in regions prone to power and phone line cuts (10).
The new media upgrade race is an effective form of economic exclusion for many would-be users : even purportedly democratic institutions forget this and adopt high-end displays which rule out simple browsing for the less well equipped. Technology consumption patterns in advanced countries are merciless for those who cannot bear the financial weight of constant hard- and software renewal (11). Yet for financially privileged consumers, « quantum leap » upgrades like those introduced by each generation of Pentium processors afford undreamed of possibilities, and represent a new - albeit relative - egalitarianism in their closed world.
Yet while arguments to sustain the viability of older systems hold little weight in the face of short-term commercial goals, longer-term market penetration depends on computer acceptance by an uninitiated public, unlikely to appreciate having to constantly invest in rapidly redundant technology (tactics to integrate the computer into household television/ stereo sets try to solve this problem). This seems to indicate that it is in the interests of industrialists to ensure scaling mechanisms allowing transitions between systems, to win new markets. While some of the most spectacular G7 and European projects focus on issues like virtual work space connectivity, these tend to target high-end applications (12). Research geared towards compatibility of more heterogeneous low-end systems would have immediate salutary effects for modest computer users, and probably represent long-term benefits in terms of broader acceptance of computerisation.
Data standardisation: information or deformation?
An insidious side-effect of the heritage fixation, as evident in the « real » world as in cyberspace, is the extent to which ways of conserving and prioritising cultural resources are being dictated by economically advanced nations.While guidance from partners experienced in new technologies is necessary and desirable for novices, the determinant, lasting impact of corporate providers, whose proprietary systems are apt to condition future uses of digitised resources, should on no account be underestimated. The format war that has opposed leading manufacturers of video equipment for decades is now being waged across digital technologies. Poorer countries must not be made long-term hostages and/or victims of this industrial and economic rivalry. The notion of « appropriate technology transfer » was coined by the Unesco engineering community twenty years ago, to define ethical practices and denounce dumping by wealthy organisations selling obsolete technologies to less fortunate and less informed customers (1). The same engineers emphasised the necessity to contest technology transfers where adequate accompanying information was deliberately withheld. This debate could be usefully reviewed in the current media technology context.
Throughout the technological world, appropriateness of imported resources is not just a matter of tangible machinery, but is intimately tied up with intangible design factors. Questions such as how we build our cultural archives, i.e. how we hierarchise and organise our digitised heritage to optimise its use, depend on hard- and software choices, in turn subject to immense economic competition. As any documentalist knows, the world's richest data bases are worthless without effective indexation tools. Referencing and access routes within media systems, interconnectability of multiple bases, and interface design, need to be engineered from the outset with potential user populations in mind. What constitutes meaningful data for one person from a given cultural background may be meaningless for another; furthermore, how we actually go about seeking information is largely influenced by our upbringing. Search engines which have been developed by modern technologised society, and bear authoritarian monolingual routing mechanisms likely to unduly channel and distort a foreign user's quest, risk being unsuitable elsewhere. Hand-me-down operating systems, however well adapted to their makers' practices and traditions, may indelibly mar other peoples cultural legacies.
Pejorative effects do not just stem from « cold » engineering concepts, but also from carryover to new media of ideological biases manifest in earlier information systems. The Torres Strait Islander (Australian Aboriginal) Protocols show how loaded purportedly neutral « cultural » and « archival » terminology can be (2). Backlash is predictable and understandable : the Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that the latter « should define for themselves their own intellectual and cultural property » (3). There are two sides to the coin: standardisation enhances mobility, thus availability of information. At the same time, it has a bulldozer effect on even the most disparate materials, indiscriminately commodifying and flattening our cultural landscape. Those who are empowered to design networks to bear our cultural memory should be morally held to implicate representatives of other peoples in the building of information architectures. The Torres Strait Islander Protocols call for indigenous peoples to be trained in new media and employed in information organisations. Hence, the emergence of monolithic, doctrinaire systems can be constructively countered, by the creation of more acceptable data repositories.
In addition to training and recruitment, it is urgent to facilitate participation of indigenous peoples at international events devoted to information system design, ensuring that adequate (i.e. not token) resources are officially allocated to constructive debate on the multicultural implications of such systems. A resolution to guarantee breadth of vision and respect geocultural diversity could be formulated in keeping with the protocol laid down by « Memorandum of Understanding » agreements : these voluntary co-operation frameworks between various categories of actors, including industrialists and service providers, constitute a morally binding public commitment to respect certain principles and work towards predefined common goals and consensus in specific areas.
As well as following existing technology and anticipating its ramifications over a broad span of geocultural contexts, policy-makers need to keep up with breakthroughs which risk radically changing and extending media practices. For example, the advent of « intelligent agents » in the networks, i.e. customised search engines that become increasingly proficient as they adapt to an individual's daily information requirements, is likely to profoundly modify use of large data bases in the near future. These tools, which yesterday sounded like science fiction, are now being integrated into everyday personal computer programmes. It is crucial to ensure informed feedback on such developments for structures elaborating often costly media programmes, to avoid anachronistic choices of equipment and methodology.
Social interaction: sounding virtual communities
The fact that immense amounts of data can be conveyed through telephone lines substantially modifies our geopolitical and geocultural setting : multi- and transnational economic forces are generating masses of culturally hybridised citizens of the connected world. At the same time, scattered individuals and structures are congregating around poles of interest and forming new communities of ideas in cyberspace, this social clustering being dramatically offset by the parallel dissolution of national identities (1). As a result, two apparently antithetical influences - globalisation and the emergence of geographically distributed but ideologically cohesive identities - are the most determinant social forces at work in cyberspace. Both have their positive and negative sides. Cultural homogenisation is feared as consumer patterns promoted by economically dominant powers are propagated throughout the world, yet the spread of common language may also facilitate dialogue and exchange. « Cluster cultures » act as niches of difference and uphold wellsprings of heterogeneity, yet in their extreme forms may become isles of xenophobia and autarky. This redistribution of community identity poses new questions as to what constitute viable and lasting social links, and how disembodied discourse through telecommunications networks can prolong embodied forms of social interaction.
Among the communities that have seized on possibilities of the internet to give cohesion to their geographically scattered members, the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN) aims at building a multimedia resource base for the study, teaching, and appreciation of history and material culture in Scotland (2). Financed by Millennium funding (i.e. through the National Lottery), SCRAN was launched in September 1996, and will run under contract with the Millennium Commission for five years, continuing on a self-financed basis as a multimedia resource thereafter. The SCRAN board includes representatives from national museums and education structures, as well as from the British Computer Society. In addition to providing residents of inaccessible parts of Scotland with a common cultural platform, the project intends to act as a rallying point for the vast Scottish diaspora.
Other new media structures train young people to ensure their professional integration. The Aboriginal Youth Network project, conceived in 1995 by Microworks (Ottawa), is now an independent public organisation (3), committed to employing and training Aboriginal youth on web technology and transferable job skills. First Nations, Metis and Inuit summer students are currently preparing for longer term projects to employ street youth in computer skills. ARTEC, the London-based Arts Technology Centre, likewise provides new media training for excluded youth. While such organisations obviously require physical infrastructures, their network environments generate a singularly open, stimulating context for people more used to « dead-end » situations. ARTEC trainees post their web pages on the Centres site, and are in high demand upon completion of their studies (4).
In some cases, the community spirit generated by networking is exploited to attenuate local political tension. For example, in response to the urgent need to relieve interracial conflict after the 1995 Los Angeles riots, the LA Culture Net was initiated by the Getty Information Institute in the form of discussions among local cultural organisations advocating participatory culture and digital communities (5). The three-year project, scheduled to run until June 1999, has grown steadily along three axes : organising online cultural resources for people of all ages and walks of life, training local communities in network technologies so they can exploit and contribute to online cultural resources, and developing alliances between business, education, municipal and cultural sectors in the service of community development. Networked infrastructures have been established to enhance exploitation of cultural resources (libraries and museums, galleries and events), digital training seminars are organised to familiarise teachers with LA Culture Net, exhibition projects are instigated by the LACN team, and public technology seminars in 1998 will allow open debate on cultural policy.
A novel form of social and cultural interaction characterises « Africa Fête », launched by musician Mamadou Konte in the wake of the Africa Fête Festival he founded in 1978 (6). The site presents African musicians, their works and backgrounds, schedules and itineraries. Apart from making themselves known to the public and potential programmers on the web, the artists can trace each other's movements, facilitating coordination and joint events. Africa Fête has become a precious relay for the African, European and American continents, although its goal is « all of humanity ». In its aims to further cultural exchange amongst young people, it has been active in a series of encounters based on concepts of citizenship and identity : after a five-month preparatory period, twenty French rappers from suburban Paris high schools were selected to spend a week at the Tringa Cultural Centre, in Dakar, in June 1996, where they participated in music activities with young Senegalese artists, a workshop with traditional percussion master Doudou NDiaye Rose and saxophonist David Murray, and a day of web-cast multimedia creation. The next step involves creating similar links between African artists and their American counterparts.
Projects like these show how our search for a more generic vision and sense of solidarity can benefit from the all-encompassing energies vehicled by new media technologies. At the same time, our quest to sustain creative diversity has much to gain from their propensity to foster tight-knit virtual communities. Furthermore, these two tendencies nourish one another in a vital feedback loop : major information channels allow large numbers of people to access and learn from the idiomatic wealth of minority cultures. The real cultural challenge posed by new media technologies consists of striking the most dynamic balance between these tendencies.
Education, the key to media technology access
Dissemination and productive use of media technologies depends on education. While access and computer literacy for young people is a widely conceded priority, it is just as widely recognised that children given the chance to explore information technologies are generally eager, responsive learners. Where information and communication technologies have been introduced with adequate accompanying guidance, young people have quickly established links with schools round the world and launched networked group activities, developing a unique sense of community awareness (1). Networked rural schools may build stronger notions of identity and international solidarity than non-networked urban schools. Furthermore, early training in new media dissolves gender obstacles : girls are often active networkers, and are steadily forming a new generation of computer literate women.
International childrens projects reflect cultural diversity which apparently survives the digital sieve: in the Colorado-based « Kids-as-Global-Scientists » project, students use electronic mail to study local weather patterns (2). The Corcovado School in Rio de Janeiro uses the KidLink Network for « Medicinal Plants on the Internet » : young people share research on traditional medicinal plants, gaining insight into relations between humans and the natural world (3). KidLinks multiple language support gives children new forms of multicultural awareness. Language differences are the focus of many higher education establishments active with new media: the Distance Learning Laboratory of the University of Pereslavl (Russia) has launched a project with Toyama University (Japan), to study telecommunications for foreign language learning (4). As Japanese and Russian are rare languages with few common forums, this project tests telecommunications and information processing technologies, develops conceptual and analytic abilities for working in a global information environment, and promotes cultural awareness.
Media technologies induce major transformations in education culture : research need no longer be restricted to fields of competence mastered by ones home school, but can be extended under the aegis of remote « mentors ». Online education programmes offering considerable intellectual and economic advantages are growing fast : « visiting lecturers » use videoconferencing that can be accessed by scattered classrooms, electronic mail is exchanged with thesis supervisors, and online data bases decentralise traditional centres of learning, introducing a certain form of democratisation. As virtual education picks up impetus, educational real estate is less heavily taxed.
The main obstacle to development of new media technologies in education is infrastructure: schools and literacy are unknown to vast numbers, and for others, computers are an unthinkable luxury. Even where there are good physical infrastructures, resistance to change may pose formidable barriers. Use of media technologies in education implies a shift in thinking for many teachers, who have to learn to act as guides rather than dogmatic dispensers of rote learning (a poor but sadly widespread conception of teaching). They are often unprepared to assume this more challenging role, and seek refuge in corporatism. It is urgent to educate educators to teach young people to teach themselves, to learn to define and satisfy their own goals by actively searching in massive data bases that no human brain could ever compete with. The « Computers in Teaching Initiative » (CTI), a public-funded organisation in Great Britain, provides online information services, training programmes, and above all, sympathetic human advisors who are highly computer literate and dedicated to education, to guide teachers in their use of technology (5). The twenty-four CTI centres have been chosen from higher education structures covering a wide array of disciplines.
As in most sectors where economic gain is not immediately quantifiable, lack of finance blocks the integration of media technologies in education. To compensate for insufficient public funding, many institutions request direct corporate sponsorship. Certain computer and communications consortia have responded to this need, but industrialists are a suspicious stand-in for « disinterested » national policy makers and advisors. Academic and corporate partners sometimes set up their own organisations to promote new media in education. New Media Centers (NMC) is one such non-profit organisation, launched in San Francisco in 1993 (6). NMC identifies institutions around the world most apt to serve as models for innovation, and encourages them to develop community-based programmes, such as in-service training workshops for school teachers, and professional development courses for lifelong learning. NMC hardware, software and publishing companies focus on appropriate technologies for media-based curricula, e.g. facilities for distance learning, videoconferencing, and online discussion. The selected institutions range from small (450 students) to large structures (50,000 students), representing a wide array of cultures including strongly Hispanic, African American, and Native American campuses. In addition to 75 sites within the United States, NMC lists ten institutions from Canadia, Australia, Colombia, Finland, Sweden and Taiwan.
NMC offers an inspiring sponsorship model, although its selection of institutions apt to serve as beta-sites for developing technologies needs to be nuanced by organisations targeting more problematic places of learning. Investment where « ROI » is unpredictable calls for a different kind of social commitment, and is unlikely to come about in the absence of strongly formulated policy, valorising corporate and academic partnerships. There are, however, simple ways of preparing for technological implementation in inexperienced structures, including exchange programmes allowing students and/or teachers to familiarise themselves with work methods in equipped institutions. Media residency programmes, offered by growing numbers of organisations (e.g. the Media Arts section of the Unesco-Aschberg Bursaries for Artists programme), deserve strong policy support for this reason.
Information in the public domain and cultural property
The flexibility of multimedia has important cultural repercussions. For example, language learning programmes simultaneously employ textual, aural, and visual media, which can be paced and customised by their users. Although prevalence of the English language within new media remains a controversial topic in cultural politics, the internet fosters many sites for small, ethnically and linguistically distinct groups. Some odd effects are encountered in terms of geopolitical redistribution of linguistic legacies : it is often « outsider » structures that become the informed and official withholders of cultural codes. Hence, the eclectic Yamada Language Center of the University of Oregon apposes copyright reserves on its Mayan Language Resources, which include cosmology, the Mayan calendar, and an ancient Aztec Mayan ball game (1). While these resources are accessible thanks to academic labour, which should rightly be protected from piracy, one wonders how many Mayan or Aztec Indians were consulted when their language became subject to copyright. As sweeping conceptions of heritage and conservation lead to new forms of patented commodification, usurpation and alienation of cultural identities may well become a future battlefield within new media technologies.
Problems interpreting what belongs to the public cultural legacy, as opposed to the intimate cultural heritage of a given people, are rearing their heads across new media. In the past, museums have been condemned for indiscriminate accumulation of often plundered artefacts and cultural vestiges, which may be violated and emptied of ritual meaning by uncontextualised, uninformed public display. These issues are likely to reappear with renewed vigour as unscrupulous « owners » of cultural artifacts and documents, including archives recording occult practices, publish them via new media. It seems ironic that industrial secrecy and encryption programmes like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) trigger vehement debate within the world's connected population, whilst issues of privy group mores and technological rape of cultural practices are neglected (2).
A fine line must be traced between aspects of our cultural heritage which can be readily broadcast to benefit humankind, and esoteric aspects of cultural practice which, if over-exposed without due contextualisation, are prone to the same shabby voyeurism that characterises sensational press and television. For there to be constructive debate on this question, slighted groups must be given the opportunity to convey and uphold their views. Certain indigenous groups are starting to ensure new media training for their own kin, so that they will better defend their own interests. The Australian Indiginet programme seeks « To facilitate access by Indigenous community organisations and individuals to the internet. To assist community organisations to maintain ownership of their cultural property and to maintain control over its selective transmission. (...) To provide training in interactive media. (...) To develop a community controlled cultural archive. » (3)
The strengthening of new media fluency among indigenous people is vital for the human heritage. Persons deprived of the possibility to shape and transmit their cultural legacy have every reason to resent usurpers versions, and the worse this situation, the higher the likelihood that secret societies will emerge, i.e. fortified data enclaves. Indigenous peoples must be entrusted with the responsibility of transmitting their heritage as part of humanitys cultural wealth, to be preserved, but also built upon and revivified through contemporary vision. Australian Aboriginal musicians sometimes incur the wrath of their elders for playing the didgeridoo in modern settings, but these musicians maintain that they respect tribal mores, and do not consider them incompatible with such activity. On the contrary, they consider re-interpretation and reappropriation of their cultural resources to create new traditions an essential aspect of contemporary cultural dynamics (4).
Given the singular communicative potential of new media technologies, many of the following proposals suggest use of the internet for show-casing exemplary practices and triggering debate on cultural questions. Athough extensive use of networks constitutes an economic way of generating international dialogue, it should not be seen as an alternative to physical assemblies. International meetings are usually a costly and complex undertaking, but they form an indispensable part of human exchange. Judicious exploitation of information and communication technologies however allows these encounters to be better prepared, as substantial groundwork can be accomplished through networked information and discussion forums. Physical assemblies can thus optimise their limited time, and debates can be instantaneously, effectively followed up and prolonged via web sites.
To allow sound preparatory and follow-up work of this kind, communication infrastructures must be defined to ensure equality of access. It should be constantly borne in mind that an urgent contribution to cultural debate on new media technologies is needed from chronically under-equipped parties. Some of the most interesting reflection on contemporary culture is being formulated within structures that do not have web sites (1). Moreover, multiple language platforms should be favoured for discussions dealing with multicultural issues, i.e. platforms integrating effective translation resources. The expedient solution of adopting English for international discussion tends to minimise the importance of language as a vehicle of cultural difference and wealth. The linguistic bias of search engines and browsers today constitutes a major obstacle for internauts seeking to glean a more « universal » culture from the world-wide web. Research to develop alternative, parallel technologies is needed.
With respect to physical assemblies devoted to information and communication technology, effort is required to ensure that delegates are truly representative of new media culture, and aware of its specific day-to-day implications. Several observers of international events of this kind have deplored the flagrant absence of a large category of young activists - programmers and artists - involved in new media at determinant levels (2). These energetic, well-informed actors are often upstaged by official spokespersons with little or no practical experience of digital media, particularly networking. Yet decision- and policy-making in this realm by a gerontocratic group is totally inappropriate. Furthermore, since spokespersons elected to attend new media encounters are bearers of a decisive cultural mission, and to a certain extent act as role models for their peers, a careful balance should be sought to ensure representative delegations, in terms of gender and ethnic origin. Foresight and common sense may dispense with the necessity to impose often conflictual quota-type systems.
a) Cultural policy-makers must guard against media developments likely to compromise active, creative, participatory cultural expression, and uphold public awareness of the implications - positive and negative - of normative technologies. A « watch group » nominated to follow up new media developments, comprised of persons familiar with new technologies and with international law (notably in terms of freedom of expression, fair use, and intellectual property aspects), could be a useful nucleus within an internet forum devoted to these questions. Dedicated representatives of structures devoted to media, culture, and training, like Frank Boyd from ARTEC (London), Tapio Maekelae from the Muu Media Base (Helsinki), Zainub Verjee from Western Front (Vancouver), Ravi Sundaram from the Indian Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (Delhi), Jules van de Vijver from Media-GN (Groningen), Yngve Sundblad from the Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory at NADA (Stockholm), and Diane McCarty from the Media Research Foundation (Budapest), together with free-lance writers and cultural activists like Canadian Katherine Dodds, American Mark Dery, and German Pit Schultz, could constitute or contribute to such a core group. A structure like Globenet, devoted to information infrastructure development and access, could play a strong role in animating a group of this kind.
b) Nomadic events devoted to culture and new technologies should be encouraged, as should current attempts to diversify their localisations. Such events could enhance interaction between itinerant cyberculture specialists, and local structures keen to promote reflection on these questions. Indeed, a widening of cultural approaches to new media depends on extension of the currently limited platform for debate. Moreover, cohesive action between host sites and new media personalities may favour technological implantation in otherwise neglected areas : through itinerant conferences, industrial developers attentive to high-end cyberculture discourse could be made aware of «outpost» infrastructure requirements. Among such nomadic events, ISEA (Inter Society of Electronic Arts/ International Symposium of Electronic Arts), Cyberconf, and the World Wide Web conference, have developed effective international platforms for such action, and should be assisted in their efforts to diversify venues : there has been public discussion of ISEA's being hosted in Bangalore, and of Cyberconf's being hosted in Goa; the recent Malaysian edition of the WWW Conference introduced new perspectives and raised novel issues for many networking professionals. Clearly, such policy calls for thorough groundwork, to avoid the development of a new kind of highbrow tourism amongst a "cyberculture elite" (akin to that encountered in companies which hold seminars in exotic - and financially advantageous - locations). However, the quoted structures have built up international relays which they can call and build on, to ensure that ephemeral cultural events maximally benefit host regions and, reciprocally, to create conditions whereby persons from these regions can really make themselves known to their visitors, and set up a useful dialogue with them. Moreover, the fast growing network of small cultural festivals and organisations with fixed sites could be more productively involved in hosting major itinerant events. This is likely to potentiate their action at the local level. The International Directory of Electronic Arts [http://nunc.com] features a well-informed, updated inventory of these activities; the authors of this guide could be asked to perform a prospective review of possible interworkings between nomadic and site specific cultural events.
c) Media institutes with a strong digital technology focus should be encouraged to develop dynamic links with smaller centres, to avoid the creation of exclusivist high-end cultural consortium networks, and the ghettoisation of lighter structures. This implies design of flexible communication architectures which allow exchange between heterogeneous partners. Parallel to initiatives for seamless connection of large-scale data bases, other projects could aim at establishing seamless connections between variable-scale data bases. Large structures devoted to culture and new media, such as the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Ars Electronica in Linz, the ICC in Tokyo, and BANFF in Canada, already constitute an international cultural relay : their comparable facilities mean that they can readily circulate technologically sophisticated works amongst themselves. While this exchange of works and ideas promotes dialogue within the arts community worldwide, it is crucial that such structures also uphold exchange with sites that are not as well equipped, which generate different types of work, often conveying different preoccupations and energies. Failing this, we run the risk of sustaining and being capable of recognising only a very narrow, elite kind of artistic production. While this issue may appear somewhat banal in cultural terms, it actually poses serious problems in terms of industrial development and priorities. A strong cultural plea needs to be made at formative levels in information technology development, for example amongst G7 and EU policy decision-makers, to favour research geared towards upholding connectivity of heterogeneous media bases.
d) Leading on from the previous recommendation, connectivity between cutting edge and older information systems must be sustained, and reflection on the « upgrade race », set in its economic and social context, must be deepened. A generalised, culturally aware and weighted attitude towards technological development, its logic and its characteristics, needs to be fostered from the earliest level, namely within the education system. The means and ethics of technology transfer and evolution should henceforth constitute a topic in its own right within media training programmes. Whereas current syllabuses leave little room for approaching technology (old or new) in ethical and epistemological terms, a wider base for discussion on media and cultural development is needed. First and foremost, this means devising novel training programmes for current educators, i.e. those who are forming tomorrow's teachers. New media training centres, familiar with the "generation gap" induced by information technologies, could be incited to contribute towards the elaboration of such programmes via a brainstorming exercise, perhaps with an international competition framework as an incentive. Young people - students, but also youth excluded from the traditional education system - should be strongly sollicited in this context, to help forge pertinent curriculum lines within a task force grouping education and new media specialists. Publishers specialised in education could be a useful motor group within such a task force.
e) Artists should be regularly and creatively involved (i.e. not just as illustrators) in heritage projects using new media technologies. Projects where artistic vision has elucidated history should be valorised at the level of cultural institutions, but also amongst industrial developers, who may substantially benefit from artists technological demands. Overstated claims of « scientific objectivity » to justify monopolies on cultural data should be challenged, but this challenge should be posed constructively, via alternative, creative interpretations. Thus, for example, major museums (via ICOM) and prestigious cultural foundations (Getty, Smithsonian, Guggenheim, Gulbenkian, Soros, etc.), in collaboration with information technology developers, could be convened to devise common programmes, aimed at inciting and supporting artists in their use of new media to elaborate creative visions of past cultures and works. Structures like the European-based and funded EVA group (Electronic Imaging and the Visual Arts), closely linked to the museum and information technology community, could be requested to promote such initiatives. Collaborative undertakings of this kind would help to clarify currently complex copyright issues, particularly with respect to notions of « fair use » : much multimedia creation draws on existing culture to forge works based on the play of memory, but at the same time numerous artists working along these lines are running up against excessively restrictive interpretations of copyright. A series of freely artistic recreations of history, commissioned by and for museums, to become part of the public estate, could usefully challenge some currently nefarious, strictly mercenary attempts to monopolise aspects of the human cultural heritage.
f) To avoid generalisation of architectures and information routing procedures emanating from a single, sometimes inappropriate cultural perspective, active involvement in the elaboration of media tools by people from other geocultural horizons should be encouraged. Initiatives like the Indiginet training programmes should be multiplied. Cultural ramifications of data base design should be an explicit topic on the agenda of major international new media events. Industrialists should be alerted to the importance of this discussion, which may enrich current design concepts, and facilitate future acceptance of information and communication technologies in currently unequipped regions. Multilingual browsers and search engines need to be developed for these same reasons. Organisations like SIGGRAPH and the European Information Technology Conference should be lobbied to heighten awareness of the need to foster plural inforoutes and data base architectures. They could be requested to regularly instate specific debates and conference themes dealing with this issue, where persons from structures like Indiginet, the Aboriginal Youth Project, and ARTEC could present ongoing works. These debates and thematic sessions would be extremely relevant for schools, particularly media training institutions based in usually neglected parts of the globe, seeking to uphold and convey cultural specificity.
g) Effective implantation of media technologies to enhance cultural development requires prior training and adequate human infrastructures. « Human-human » interfaces precede « human-machine » interfaces. It is far more productive to make basic equipment accessible in a context which privileges discussion and exchange, than to install high-end equipment without sufficient human guidance. Policy-making involving new media technologies should ascribe as much importance to human interaction, seamless or not, as to machine compatibility. Undertakings like the V2_East initiative [http://www.V2.nl/east], dedicated to cultural development in central and eastern Europe, must constantly struggle to obtain human resources, which often prove more difficult to procure and fund than machines. Finnish artist Tapio Maekela, director of the Muu Media Base in Helsinki, strongly feels that media fluent pools of people must be made more mobile, by setting up itinerant groups to ensure media training in newly equipped centres deprived of human resources. Maekela recently issued a number of proposals via internet mailing lists; these proposals are pragmatic and firmly grounded in experience, and could well be taken up by Unesco policy-makers (the "Media Art and Mobility Fund" - MAMF - is one of these initiatives). Organisations like the Vancouver-based Video In, which have a long history of providing media training for a broad spectrum of people, and a strong focus on asserting cultural identities in the face of strong corporate culture, could likewise be sollicited in attempts to forge new training protocols.
h) Debate on new media technologies should mobilise a frequently ignored group of actors strongly implicated in media development, i.e. (often young) programmers and designers. Decision-making by politicians unacquainted with the reality of technologies on which they are adjudicating is vain, inappropriate, and unacceptable. Exclusion from policy-making processes of people speaking for distinct age, professional, ethnic, and gender groups exacerbates the differentiation of mainstream and underground activity. Pockets of difference - or dissidence - which query consensual practice are a vital feature of a dynamic society, and inherent to the interrogative function of art, but the forming of defensive, tight-knit groups by disillusioned outcasts ultimately means amputation of irreplaceable aspects of our cultural heritage. An innovative training structure such as ARTEC, aware of the exclusivist risks of new technology developments, could be asked to animate a web forum to foster exchange amongst currently marginalised groups with a view to building a platform of informed, competent spokespersons capable of intervening in policy-making events. Similarly, Holland's Virtual Platform group, which recently convened a conference entitled "p2p" ("From Practice to Policy", Amsterdam, October-November 1997), and which has built up substantial experience with media practitioners from a wide array of structures endowed with very different resources, could be called on to contribute to such a forum.
Sally Jane Norman is a cultural historian and theorist. Since completing a "Doctorat d'état" at the University of Paris III, her writing has essentially focused on links between art and technology. Author of numerous articles, she is currently research director at the International Institute of Puppetry (Charleville-Mézières) and co-ordinator of two European i3 (Intelligent Information Interfaces) projects for the "Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie" in Karlsruhe, Germany.