Monday, June 11, 2007

symposium 'traditional cultural expressions in a digital environment', 8-9 June, Lucerne

This weekend, the time for our eDiversity international symposium on traditional cultural expressions (TCE) in a digital environment finally came.
After almost 6 months of careful planning and organisation, inviting experts, booking venues and menues, going through every detail of the programme, both logistically and substantively, the morning of the 8th of June arrived.
It was a beautiful day in Lucerne and a good start for a very interesting, open and intensive discussion on the TCE pertinent issues.
The debates were unique at least in a couple of points. The first one was the interdisciplinary character of the contributions and the diverse backgrounds of the speakers that sought to reach out to other disciplines (history, philosophy, social sciences and law) and add value to the TCE discussions. The second point of distinction had to do with situating the debates in the new digital environment and seeking to address its repercussions (both positive and negative) for the protection and promotion of TCE.
With the benefit of hindsight, although as an organiser not entirely impartial in my view, a third point worth mentioning is the interesting group of experts and their willingness for open dialogues and exchange of ideas (a rare thing, I would say).
Finally, a word on my own contribution on new technologies and their impact upon the protection and promotion of TCE (ppt here; paper here). My main objective was to reveal that the digital technologies do change the entire environment where TCE are to be protected and promoted. Digital technologies and their far-reaching economic and societal implications (using the long tail and the participative web as examples) cannot be exhausted in the TCE discussions by mere references to the negative impact of these upon copyright enforcement and ICTs instrumentalisation for development purposes. A broader conceptual understanding is needed. Upon the latter, one could then take the concrete steps of putting together a multi-faceted flexible toolbox, which may properly address the specificities of TCE beyond copyright (at lower transcation costs too).
I was extremely lucky to have Herbert Burkert of the University of St. Gallen as a formal discussant and Sacha Wunsch-Vincent of OECD as a moderator. They put things into the right perspective and draw the precise contours of the topic framing it into the symposium's objectives. I am most grateful for their contributions, in particular to Herbert, who not only supported my views but also challenged the public and livened up the debate with his rhetotical skills.

Here are some visual impressions from the TCE discussions.