Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

La culture sur internet : entre mythes et réalités

Joëlle FARCHY, Maître de conférences en économie à l'Université Paris 11

PlanetAgora - Forum de concertation sur le pluralisme culturel - Sixième chapitre des débats – novembre 2003 - 2003/11

In an attempt to determine whether the Internet promotes cultural diversity or contributes to cultural uniformity, Ms Farchy examines the relationship between culture and the economy by assessing the impact of the Internet on culture. She admits that the Internet has given rise to a new utopian vision, a vision of a better world that includes culture. However, she points out that even though new forms of writing are emerging, the medium has yet to establish its own cultural identity; the Internet is still mainly used as a tool to promote and distribute existing cultural products, despite hopes that it develop into a direct channel providing free access to abundant new cultural forms. Although genuine new opportunities exist on the Internet, “the hopes it raises belong more often to the realm of myth than reality, a reality now largely overtaken by very traditional economic issues.” The Internet’s ability to provide access to huge quantities of information is unquestionably a significant opportunity for culture. But, asks Ms Farchy, does an abundance of supply create diversity, or rather concentrate profits in the hands of the few. In her view, free distribution of cultural products is often just a way to promote goods, services, and software. This diverts culture from its true role, transforming it into a pretext for buying and selling goods. She concludes that the Internet on its own is not a path to a better world. Only a strong regulatory framework can guarantee diversity and culture for all. Readers can comment on this text on the PlanetAgora forum. ( Available in French only)