Preserving Fading Cultures With Information Technologies

Information technology has become vital in the modern world. It is useless to state its advantages, for as users we are already aware of them. Suffice it to say, our means of communicating are faster than ever before. One of the least mentioned uses of IT is the preservation of fading cultures.

There are many indigenous cultures which are in danger of becoming extinct. We have now become so technology oriented that we have little time to explore our own cultures in depth. People now move to other countries to seek jobs and become alienated from their own indigenous cultural practices in the process. The traditions and specific rituals of indigenous cultures need to be passed on to younger generations. Concerned efforts are being made globally to use information technology to preserve and rejuvenate fading cultures.

Instead of convincing younger users to limit their Internet usage, why not use it as a tool to pass on cultural values? Similarly, the Internet can be used to preserve languages that are are dying.

Communication and multimedia tools such as video and audio recordings are being used to promote culture. By using the audio-visual genres which information technology offers, such as dance and music, artifacts and a plethora of cultural nuances can be communicated. This is the most effective way of preserving indigenous cultures because these communication tools are now available all over the world.

Cultural databases, which are three-dimensional and create an audio-visual environment for users, are being developed by experts. Such cultural databases will quickly attract their users.

Much research has been done on the use of IT by the Latin Americans. For instance, Sami Pilco, an Ecuador national, documented in detail the problems and challenges Latin Americans faced due to the universal nature of software and websites. Because the world of the Internet has changed since this research was conducted, now indigenous cultures have a chance to represent themselves by claiming their own cyberspace.

Indigenous cultures represented through websites

The purpose of cultural websites is to promote indigenous cultures and to help native people fully benefit from information technology. Such websites created by indigenous associations or native people promote regional art, crafts, history, literature and languages representing a specific culture. The videos and pictures on these websites serve as audio-visual aids and can pass on cultural values effectively to the audience.

Introducing indigenous cultures through video games

Children love to play video games.  Games can teach teach children about their culture. Psychologists have proved that video games are effective educational tools. They can teach both specific content, cultural, in this case, and other skills.

Video games capture the player’s attention through rapid change of scenes or by using background music as an external stimulus to grab a player’s attention. Active participation of the  player also makes it a very effective teaching tool. Video games have different levels and are thus adaptable to the intelligence of the player. Video games can also be played again and again, automatically reinforcing the cultural content.

Promoting culture through movies and music

Media and the movie industries have played a significant role in promoting culture through art movies. However, the movies of any country are a mouthpiece of its cultural values and can be used to promote and preserve those values. Furthermore, information and communication technology is being used on a wide scale to preserve indigenous cultures under threat, like the Australian aborigine culture, the native American culture and the Orang Asli in Malaysia.

Featured images:

License: Image author owned

License: Image author owned

By Sarah Detlef

Sarah Detlef blogs about education, culture and translation. She provides French document translation services to www.24hourtransation.com and has taught French and English to university and college students throughout the world.