「2002 太平洋鄰里協會年會暨聯合會議」, 日本大阪市立大學 2002年3月28日
Digital Media, Informatics, and Cultural Heritage
|Page 3 of 13|
A Summary of Some Theoretical Studies
is now transforming our Society
Nowadays, no one can deny that information technology (IT) is now transforming or changing our society. It is transforming the ways we communicate, the way we deal with people and the way we learn. Besides those ways, IT also transforming the nature of all kind of works we are facing everyday, including doing commerce, doing health care, conducting research, dealing with environment, building and designing things, and many more. Each level of governments and even the practice of politics, such as democratic, are subjected to change, too.1 It is difficult to find a single thing that is not subjected to change at all. And, all the changes happened are so unexpected fast that everyone can feel the tight pressure come from those changes.[i]
this ever-changing situation, we think we have to concern and ask: How
does information technology interact with our culture and society? What
are the cultural and social impacts and the ways of impact of
Information Technology? How
long will these transforming last?
Specifically to our people, we might worry: Can
our culture survive the information age? Or, will our traditions become
endangered while Internet becomes more popular? And, if
so, what shall we do?
Summery of Some Preliminary Studies
In order to address the above questions/problems, some preliminary studies on the nature of IT as well as the possible social and cultural impacts of IT have been conducted since 1996. The subjects studied include the following major topics: the properties of digital media, the rules of media on communication and knowledge processing, the nature of information, a definition of information that serves our purposes, characteristics of IT, the rules of IT on academic research, education and learning, etc. And, launching of NDAP is one of the actions in response to our studies. These studies are trying to address some much-concerned problems listed above, so we summarize some major results of those studies in the following paragraphs.
Digital media is quite different from any kind of traditional media. Any traditional media can be classified as “material media”. This means we have to select a kind of materials as media to mark on it whatever we like to express traditionally. Therefore, any communication activity that must use a kind of media is subjected to the media material properties, or obstacles. So, before digital media has been invented and used, communication is costly and subjected to those characteristics of the economical systems developed by in those days.
Unlike traditional media, digital media can be classified as “energy media”. It usually utilizes stable energy states within material to mark what we like to express. Therefore, it does not destroy the material while using it. So, digital media usually can be used over and over almost without limit. It is almost free from any material obstacles, and free from any temporal and spatial constraints that materials used to subject. As a consequence, while digital media is being used, the characteristics of communication drastically changed, and certainly do not follow the characteristics of our traditional economical systems. We have to regulate them by laws, such as by intellectual property rights or privacy laws.
digital media is applied, the ideas, methods, tools, audience, range,
situation, and effectiveness of communication have all been changed. The
change of communication behavior leads to the change of fundamental
value systems of our daily life. In other words, communication change
leads to social and cultural change.
from documented progresses of human civilization development, media’s
influence on the representation and dissemination of knowledge has
proven to be very great. Handling knowledge in general can be considered
as a kind as communication also. Whenever a new form of media was
introduced, it invariably led to changes in the dissemination of
information knowledge, modified human relations and society, initiated
organizational and social change, and developed new forms of
civilization. The same multi-facet changes also happened in the field of
can be viewed as the technology dealing with digital media. So, as
social functions are concerned, IT
is not only communication technology, but also knowledge processing
technology as well. Since communication and knowledge processing are two indispensable driving
sources of civilization, naturally, IT becomes the major
driving force of new civilization.
may argue that there are other forces that cause social change too, such
as invention of new materials, new mechanical tools, new sensors, the
advances of microelectronics, bio-informatics and even the influence of
the thought of post-modernism. It is true that IT is not
the only driving force of change. But, while we take a closer look of
all those forces, we can easily found that it is IT that
makes all those achievements possible; at least, IT
greatly speeds up their developments.
example, consider the role
in supporting various academic disciplines. IT
should not confined merely as a very powerful tool, in fact, IT
ways of looking at problems, offers new ways of interpreting problems,
offers new methods of solving problems, and even provides new models and
new theories to understanding problems
in every discipline without an exception. May be these phenomena can
explain why we have so many computational sciences and informatics of
various kinds in the past two decades. It is obvious that academic
achievements will certainly lead to social and cultural change. And
these changes must owing to IT.
In order to build up consensus among our colleagues, we adopted a definition of information developed by Professor Ching-Chun Hsieh years ago. It says: Information is defined as the form of what we know expressed on media. By this definition, the properties of information can de derived from four aspects, namely the characteristics of what we know, the media used, the tools and associated skills applied, and the expression system applied. And, every one of these four aspects will provide us a checklist to study and understand the social and cultural impacts of IT. Some of our major findings have already shown in the above paragraphs.Our studies made us believe that mankind is now facing a fatal cultural and social change, from material media to energy media, from paper to digital multi-media. Considering the situation while writing system had just been invented, people will write down every thing they know in words in order to maintain their tradition and the ways of living. So is the situation today. We have to digitize all our cultural treasures in order they can be understood and utilized in digital era. Otherwise, they might be gradually faded away.
[i] The original message of this paragraph is come from an report of National coordination Office for Computing, Information, and Communications, USA, August 1998
|Page 3 of 13|