Assessing socio-cultural impact of communication technologies
Monitoring trends in information technologies
Advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) are possibly the defining technological transformations of the late twentieth century. The development of personal computers (PCs), video games, interactive tv, cell phones, internet, e-commerce systems and telework systems, as new systems, have inevitably caused a focus on the technical ingenuity of design and the technical potentials of systems, overlooking the ways in which ICT's are also redefining our social world and the way we live. The study and evaluation of ICTs in social change and the development of thinking around information society concepts is now developing alongside technological study and research.
In the case of UNESCO this includes reviewing appropriate utilization of low-cost technologies, impact of the media on societies, culture and cultural identities. Case studies have been prepared on the new technologies and their impact in different regions. The focus includes the interaction between communication, social changes and the development process, and, on the other hand, with media education of users, and through them the producers.
Although it is quite true that modern world technology makes it possible to coordinate production and marketing on a global basis, it is also true that modern communications make centralized planning within one country possible. Moreover, the high productivity of the new technology allows countries greater scope for national independence, since it becomes far less urgent to concentrate on economizing scarce resources. Most important, improved communications make it easier for small regions and units to obtain the most advanced knowledge quickly and cheaply without formal institutional lines of communication. This provides increased scope for independence and reinforces polycentrism rather than centralism.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.