At what point does information technology become not merely convenient, but
indispensable in societies? That is, can countries that have previously been
isolated geographically, culturally, and / or economically continue to do so by
“opting-out” of the very technologies that are pulling the world together now? Do
countries have a right to national isolation, if they choose it? Can they still retain
the values and traditions of their culture if they instead opt to modernize and
embrace information technologies? Or, will such a convergence of similar
technologies gradually force more similarities between societies, potentially
resulting in a loss of cultural distinctiveness? These are questions that concern me.
In Society and Technological Change, Rudi Volti refers to these issues as
being ones of convergence theory. He states that, “Although the world’s nations
have different histories and cultural orientations, they are becoming more similar
to each other [that is, converging] as they make use of the same technologies”
(268). Essentially, he argues that in modern society, convergence theory is often
equated with Westernization by default, due to most technologically advanced
countries being from the West—with the notable exception of Japan. The problem
is that countries view the ongoing invasion of foreign media and technologies as
nothing less than an overt threat to their cultures and ways of life. They equate
modernization with Westernization with Americanization, and see their own
values continually being assimilated into and moulded by the U.S.
This phenomenon is often referred to as “cultural imperialism,” “lipstick
imperialism,” or “aping the West.”...
... middle of paper ...
...nte, Nicholas. Being Digital. New York: Vintage, 1995.
Safer, Morley and Steven Reiner. “Gross National Happiness: Nirvana in the Himalayas.” 60
Minutes II. 25 June 2000.
Shankland, Stephen. “Linux takes on Microsoft turf in Germany.” ZDNet.com 4 June 2002.
Shor, Ira and Paulo Freire. “A Pedagogy for Liberation.” Bergin and Garvey, 1987.
“SMS a sin, say Indian protesters.” The Register. 11 Dec 2002.
Stout, Kristie Lu. “China Sites Count Cost of Cyber-Control.” C N N . 4 Nov 2002.
TechEncyclopedia. TechWeb / CMPNet.com. 7 Feb 2003.
Volti, Rudi. Society and Technological Change. 4th Ed. New York: Worth Publishers, 2001.
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