The protection of traditions and the digital divide
Nowadays, humanity is experiencing a Western phenomenon called globalization. This trend endeavours to homogenise thinking, culture, society, economy and politics; it poses a great challenge to the identity of the Arab-Muslim nations. This phenomenon uses the media, the Internet and technology to target beliefs, values and virtues. They say globalization will transform the world into a small village. If this is true, geographic, historic, political and cultural barriers will fall.
Perhaps the technological, economic and media-based nature of globalization has increased its cultural, social and political impacts to such an extent that all world relations are dependent on and associated with markets and commercial interests and media and technological exchange. Globalization has also led to the loss of concepts such as independence, and has made us aware of our interdependence.
Technological developments pose a huge challenge for Arabs, who must keep abreast of innovations and re-organise their relationships with others. Technological challenges are no longer limited to the digital divide or to technological illiteracy, they herald the downfall of nations.
In most fields, the divide between the developed and developing countries continues to widen. This is especially true of the digital and information ages, which separate those who possess knowledge and its tools from those who need them.
It is extremely important to address the digital divide for several reasons. Doing so will open the door and allow for a comprehensive discussion of social development. It will also allow for discussions about democracy, political reform, corruption and transparency. Other reasons include tackling issues such as the problems of globalization and attempts to dominate the world with liberal and capitalist models.
Documentation dates back to pre-historic times, which means that documentation existed before writing. In its broadest definition, documentation involves preserving historical events and scientific information and narrating them to individuals so they can benefit from them. Documentation also applies to the oral narration of information, knowledge and skills; the Odyssey and the Iliad were narrated orally several centuries before they were written down.
‘Tradition’ is the most accurate Arabic term to describe folk arts, folk heritage, folklore, folkloric expression, cultural traditional expressions and material and non-material cultural heritage.
In a broader sense, traditions are a significant part of a society’s culture; they represent the nation’s memory, which is the basis for artistic creativity. These traditions are an inspiring cultural force, a moral incentive and an unending source of spirituality.
Protecting traditions is the best way to preserve the rich and prosperous elements of the culture of the individual and the society. However, in the absence of man - the protector of these traditions - the heritage of the past and man’s identity will be lost.
Strenuous cultural and social efforts must be made to protect man’s achievements and identity in order to safeguard his existence and the continuity of his culture.
Haytham Younis Gad