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European Cultural Backbone (ECB) calls for Bottom-Up ICT Policy

Calls for Bottom-up ICT Policy

The European Cultural Backbone (ECB) recently met in Brussels to consolidate its input into the cultural and social dimensions of the Information Society. In doing so the ECB challenges the European Union to include these issues in its priorities for programmes such as the eEurope initiative launched at the European Union Lisbon Summit in March 2000. European Union rhetoric, which stresses the socially positive potential of media, is increasingly used as a veil for campaigns geared towards passive media consumption. The EU has so far not found structures to accommodate the existing creative community of small-scale, dynamic and inventive initiatives. The prevalent short-term economic logic is unlikely to guarantee long-term sustainability of diverse cultural practice.

A balanced information environment needs to strengthen the emancipatory use of Information Technologies by European citizens. The European Cultural Backbone insists that the significance and the social value of the work being done by cultural organisations working with new media must be recognised by cultural, media and technology policy, both at national and international levels. The work of the European Cultural Backbone is explicitly geared not towards private and commercial interests, but aims to foster creative uses of new technologies in the public interest.

The European Cultural Backbone held its annual meeting in Brussels on 10 -11 July 2000, against the backdrop of the World-Information.Org Exhibition, which is organised as part of the European Cultural Capital festival Brussels 2000. The European Cultural Backbone was set up in 1999 as a coalition of institutions and individuals who work in the field of new technologies and who creatively use and develop participatory media for social change. Its membership reflects the geographical, social and cultural diversity of Europe, including non-EU-Member States and partners in other continents.

The European Cultural Backbone is characterised by experimental and collaborative working structures that seek to foster the new arenas of activity generated by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The work of the European Cultural Backbone is firmly grounded in social and artistic practices. It is concerned with research, development and critical analysis of new technologies and pursues a dual strategy of co-operation within a wide network of independent media-cultural initiatives, and the promotion of such creative practices in the national and international political arena.

The European Cultural Backbone Working Groups currently focus on innovative methods for training and education; access to high-performance computing and broadband networks; online publishing resources for culture and shared editing tools; mobility for media practitioners; and research into collaborative performance methods.

The European Cultural Backbone provides the vision and practical models for building the Information Society of Europe's citizens.

Participants of the European Cultural Backbone meeting in Brussels included Konrad Becker (Public Netbase, A), Susan Benn (Performing Arts Labs, UK), Yves Bernard (iMAL, B), Cathy Brickwood (Virtual Platform, NL), Andreas Broeckmann (V2_Organisation, NL), Nils Claesson (CRAC, SE), Alexandra Dementieva (iMAL/NICC, B), Sher Doruff (Sensing Presence/Society for Old and New Media, NL), Bronac Ferran (Digital Media Resource Network/Arts Council of England, UK), Eric Kluitenberg (De Balie, NL), Maja Kuzmanovic (FOAM, B), Sally Jane Norman (Ecole supérieure de l'image, F), Marko Peljhan (Ljudmila, SI), Laurence Rassel (Constant VZW, B), Marie Ringler (Public Netbase, A), Sinisa Rogic (REX, YU), Rasa Smite (E-Lab/RIXC, LV), Marleen Stikker (Society for Old and New Media, NL), Tuomo Tammenpaa (m-cult, FI), Minna Tarkka (m-cult, FI)

For further information and contact, please check the European Cultural Backbone website: http://www.e-c-b.net

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