INET 99: Open Doors on the Net Wired News by <mailto:email@example.com> Heidi Kriz 3:00 a.m. 24.Jun.99.PDT SAN JOSE, California -- In a place where most minds are concerned about cashing in on the Internet, many delegates to INET 99 view worldwide networking as a way to bust out. "The Northern countries have had this habit of an information and technology culture for a long time," said Soledad Ferreiro, moderator for an INET panel on community networking. "In the rest of the world, the introduction of the Internet is more about freedom than anything else." The freedom to dream, communicate, and discover their identities were common themes among panelists representing Internet projects in Egypt, Spain, Russia, and Japan. "In these places, there is no 'habit' of this technology, it is being used as a tool that can, in and of itself, help bring about a cultural revolution," said Ferreiro. See also: Chiapas' Well-Connected Rebels <http://www.wired.com/news/news/technology/story/17633.html> "The anonymity of the Internet gives Japanese women the courage to say things they wouldn't otherwise," said Akiko Orito of Japan, where women are subject to prejudice and have few opportunities. In Japanese society, one of the most charged areas of controversy is whether a woman should use her own name or that of her husband. The laws require that a married woman take her husband's full name and use it on most occasions. Whether women are competent enough to work and have opinions is still a matter of controversy. It's a different story on the Net, said Orito, who presented the results of a survey of Net users: In everyday life, Japanese women use their own names in written and formal greetings only 22 percent of the time. While communicating on the Internet, Japanese women use their own names 92 percent of the time. Since Internet users can choose how much of their identity they want to reveal, Japanese woman will often seize the opportunity to disguise their gender and be lively and contentious in their online debates. It's a significant contrast to the "calm and deferential" demeanor usually demanded of Japanese women, said Orito. In Russia, the Internet is being used to solve community problems, said panelist Greg Cole, who helped found the Internet-based Russian Civic Networking Program, organized by the Friends and Partners Foundation (http://www.friends-partners.ru). "They say in Russia that there is the Russian government and the Russian people, and the two never have anything to do with each other," said Cole. "We are trying to change that by getting people to sit around the same table -- the Internet -- and help local governments and communities figure out how they can develop services for their local citizens." Cole said sponsors of the joint US and Russian project -- including the Ford Foundation -- are interested in "furthering democratic institution building" at local levels. But he said none had ever laid out a political agenda or "told us what we can or cannot do." In fact, no political debate is allowed on the network, which consists of 30 listservs and 100 Web sites. "We found, especially on Russian-US topics, that once you open the gates, one or two voices always dominate and chase away the others," Cole said. Related Wired Links: <http://r.wired.com/r/10025/http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/2 0388.html>INET 99: Let Industry Lead 24.Jun.99 <http://r.wired.com/r/10025/http://www.wired.com/news/news/culture/story/19 715.html>Radio Free Yugoslavia 17.May.99 <http://r.wired.com/r/10025/http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/1 2609.html>Indonesia's Net War 29.May.98 <http://r.wired.com/r/10025/http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/9 632.html>An Online Human Rights Fete 13.Jan.98 <http://r.wired.com/r/10025/http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/2 223.html>The Hottest Net Issue Worldwide: Access 25.Feb.97 <http://r.wired.com/r/10025/http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/1 371.html>Re-Enlightened and It Feels So Good 9.Jan.97 Copyright © 1994-99 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved. ---------------------------------- Send mail for the 'huridocs-tech' list to 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. Mail administrative requests to 'email@example.com'. For additional assistance, send mail to: 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. Archives of previous messages posted to the list can be found at: http://www.human-rights.net/huridocs-tech.
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