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Localizing the Internet. Ethical Aspects in Intercultural Perspective

Edited by Rafael Capurro, Johannes Frühbauer, Thomas Hausmanninger. Munich: Fink Verlag 2007, ICIE Book Series - Schriftenreihe des ICIE, Vol. 4, 363 pages, ISBN 978-3-7705-4200-0 ( 49,-)

This book offers a selection of papers presented at the symposium organized by the International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE) in October 2004. The symposium was sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation, organized by the Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart, and hosted by the Center for Art and Media (ZKM Karlsruhe). We thank the Volkswagen Foundation for its generous financial support and ZKM for the hospitality. We also thank Océ Deutschland and the FAZIT Stiftung for sponsoring the printing of this publication. All other papers presented at the symposium were published in the International Review of Information Ethics (IRIE).

More Information on the ICIE books can be found here.

About this book

The ongoing debate on the impact of the Internet at global and local levels is at the core of today's and tomorrow's political decision-making, particularly in a world that turns more and more unified - and divided. It is also at the core of academic research on what has been called Information Ethics. The leading ethical question is how embodied human life is possible within local cultural traditions and the horizon of a global digital environment. The book deals with this question from four perspectives:

1. The Quest for Intercultural Information Ethics: This part addresses problems of founding internet ethics in a global and culturally diverse space. How is it possible to generate or find a more or less common ethical basis? Can there be a universal normative framework or would that be an affront against the cultural diversity? What does it mean, to respect otherness and at the same time to be able to get together in the net and solve unavoidable conflicts?

2. Internet for Social and Political Development: How many people with different cultural backgrounds integrate the Internet in their lives? This concerns in the first place community building. How far does the Internet affect, for better or worse, local community building? How far does it allow democratic consultation? How do people construct their lives within this medium? How does it affect their customs. languages, and everyday problems? The question about information justice is thus not just an issue of giving everybody access to the global network, but rather an issue on how the digital network helps people to better manage their lives while avoiding the dangers of exploitation and discrimination.

3. Internet for Cultural Development: "Culture" has received revived attention in the last decade by scholars around the world - our lives and identities are culturally grounded and the global interactions certainly have quite an impact on our cultural development. Since cultural imperialism cannot be an option, the questions are, if and how the local can reshape the global, and if and how the global may inspire or further the local? What do technological innovations mean in cultural terms? How do we construct identity in the net? Should we further place-networking instead or accompanying world-networking?

4. Internet for Economic Development: Obviously there is a large economic impact of the Internet. But is it a medium that helps people to better opportunities for economic development? Or is it an instrument of oppression and colonialism? What is the impact of this technology on the environment? How does it affect what has been called cultural memory or cultural sustainability?

The book offers internationally grounded perspectives on these issues, focussing on Asia, Africa, Latin America, USA and Europe.



  • The Promising Field of Intercultural Information Ethics (Rafael Capurro) pp. 9-18


  • Intercultural Information Ethics (Rafael Capurro) pp. 21-38
  • Allowing for Difference. Some Preliminary Remarks concerning Intercultural Information Ethics (Thomas Hausmanninger) pp. 39-56
  • Foucault, Deleuze, and the Ethics of Digital Networks (Bernd Frohmann) pp 57-68
  • Globalization of Information Ethics (LÜ Yao-huai) pp. 69-73


  • Digital Governance Models: Towards Empowerment and Good Governance in Developing Countries (Vikas Nath) pp. 77-94
  • Virtual Strangers - On the Social and Ethical Conditions of Virtual Communities (Lucas D. Introna) pp. 95-108
  • Laissez-faire or Regulation? Social and Policy Implications of IT Telephony (Richard A. Spinello) pp. 109-120
  • Gendered Views on the Ethics of Computer Professionals (Britta Schinzel) pp. 121-134
  • The Internet and Community Building at the Local and Global Levels: Some Implications and Challenges (Frances S. Grodzinsky and Herman T. Tavani) pp. 135-149


  • Can the Local Reshape the Global? Ethical Imperatives for Humane Intercultural Communication Online (Charles Ess) pp. 153-170
  • "New Technologies" and "Ancient Africa": The Impact of New Information and Communication Technologies in Sub-Saharian Africa (Willy Jackson and Issiaka Mandé) pp. 171-176
  • The Internet within Seken as Old and Indigenous World of Meaning in Japan. The Interrelationship between Seken, Shakai, and the Internet in Japan (Makoto Nakada) pp. 177-204
  • At the Boundaries of Ethics and Cultures: Virtual Communita as an Open Ended Process Carrying the Will for Social Change (Daniel Pimienta) pp. 205-228
  • Collective Construction of Identity in Internet: Ethical Dimension and Intercultural Perspective (Hugo Alberto Figueroa Alcántara) pp. 229-242
  • Internet and Free Networks. From World-Networking to Place-Networking (Wolfgang Sützl) pp. 243-262


  • The Internet: The Missing Link Between the Information Poor and the Information Rich? (Johannes Britz) pp. 265-278
  • On Sharing Ideas and Expressions in Global Communities (Wolfgang Coy) pp. 279-288
  • The Internet, Information Machines, and the Technologies of the Self (Fernando Elichirigoity) pp.289-300
  • A Toolkit to Empower Communities in Latin America (Susana Finquelievich) pp. 301-319


  • Fruit, Water, and Philosophy. Intercultural Perspectives on the Internet. A Report on Working Groups' Discussions at the International Symposium "Localizing the Internet. Ethical Issues in Intercultural Perspective" (Rafael Capurro and Rupert M. Scheule) pp. 323-334

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