Kim H. Veltman

Learning and Communication with Old and New Media

UNESCO Conference: Das Verbindende der Kulturen. SEKTION:Integrales, lebendiges, gemeinsames Lernen, Orientierungs- und Sinnfragen, Mehrsprachigkeit und Kulturnavigation, Vienna, December 2003, Vienna, 2004.


The author surveys five changes in method with respect to culture in the 20th century which temporarily pointed away from universal approaches. Attention is given to six areas that provide new sources for binding elements, Das verbindende der Kulturen: 1) relation and scale; 2) intangible and tangible culture; 3) texts as integrators of culture; 4) rediscovery of meta-narratives; 5) links between local-regional-national-international-global and 6) a discovery that language is unique. Some challenges for interfaces are outlined. It is suggested that basic cultural activities offer a framework that transcends the limitations of earlier Euro-centric and Asia-Centric models, and points to models which are global in scope while fostering diversity and uniqueness.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Media as Extensions of Man
3. World Views, Theories of Space, Vision and Representation
4. Five Changes in the 20th Century
5. Relation and Scale
6. Intangible and Tangible Culture
7. Texts as Integrators of Culture
8. Rediscovery of Meta-Narratives
9. Local-Regional-National-International-Global
10. Language as Unique
11. Challenge of Different Levels of Distance
12. Cultural Activities as an Integrating Path
13. Conclusions

1. Introduction

Once upon a time learning and communication was purely oral. The advent of media transformed this and led in the 19th and 20th centuries to a recognition of media as extensions of man. In the 19th century there were simple assumptions about the role media and convictions about a one to one correspondence between world views, theories of space, theories of vision and practice of representation. In the 20th century the pitfalls of such deterministic models and the totalitarian regimes they inspired cast a dark shadow over the earlier optimism of the Enlightenment. Detailed scholarship and research undermined these assumptions and led to five changes in method. For some, these changes implied an end to progress, continuity, meta-narratives and indeed to all integration. If the 19th century announced the death of God, the latter 20th century seemed to announce the death of culture and the end of man’s abilities to make sense of what we think, do, create and share. If this were true, John Donne’s famous phrase would need to be revised as “Everyman is an island” and solipsism would be the order of the day.

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