Looking back at the late nineties fifty years from now will be quite entertaining. I won't be here to do it, but being one never to miss the fun, I'll take a crack at it now.
The 1990's have been dubbed the decade of the Web. What hype and hyperbole spewed forth with the onset of the primitive Internet application. Prognosticators predicted the end of every non-virtual institution. Fortunes were made by college grad's overnight with the offering of things appropriately called, "YAHOO". Did you know the 3,000 Gates Media Arts Centers across the US are named after the guy who built that former dynasty, Microsoft?
Well, here we are in 2050 and lips on lips are still a sign of affection, planes are too crowded and the seats too small and my home server is too slow. Thank allah for the few sane voices back in the nineties that kept things in context and didn't succumb to that insidious 'capitalist consumption' notion prevalent back then."
Context is the word. Community arts and media groups are the game. We are in the perfect position to offer reserved, balanced, contemplative and practical models for deployment of information technology for community building vs. profit. Since the Latin subroot for both Community and Communication is - To Share - we should continue to craft plans to secure great equipment, provide media literate use suggestions and fight for free bandwidth to transmit messages.
Information technology is but one more pallet to ad to the toolbox of creativity.
Half the people on this planet have never made a phone call, and likely never will. What of the Internet and the great global society? Many groups have joined forces to help support and establish the People's Communication Charter. The PCC suggests that access to and dissemination of information is a fundamental human right and should be adopted by the United Nation's to lend support to free expression activists worldwide.
We can be community "Mediums" as described by the American Heritage Dictionary:
1. Something occupying a position or having a condition midway between extremes.
2. An intervening substance through which something is transmitted or carried on, as an agency for transmitting energy.
3. A surrounding environment in which something functions or thrives.
4. The substance in which a specific organism functions and thrives.
5. The materials used in a specific artistic technique.
We want to create a surrounding environment for the organism humankind to function and thrive. We want to create an intervening substance for transmitting energy. We want to provide the materials for artistic techniques.
Dirk Koning is the Executive Director of the Community Media Center.