International Observance: Digital Divides & World Society

MONDAY, MAY 17: Whether or not “Twitter,” “Blu-Ray” and “Kindle” are part of your vocabulary, there’s one thing no person today can deny: The digital world is here to stay. Since 1973, the world has observed May 17 as World Telecommunication Day, in honor of the founding of the International Telecommunication Union on May 17, 1865. It was just less than five years ago, though, that this day was changed to World Information Society Day. (Read more at Wikipedia.) By changing the name of this day’s observance, the United Nations hopes to raise global awareness about digital technology and, as a result, decrease the digital divide.

Shanghai will host the 2010 World Expo, “Better City, Better Life,” which “represents the common wish of all mankind to achieve better living standards in future urban environments.” City living is a hot topic this year—UN World Health Day on April 7 was deemed “1,000 cities—1,000 lives,” and World Information Society Day aligns its theme with future city health, too. Organizers hope to highlight the ways digital technology and access to information can improve societies around the world; “smart” buildings, intelligent traffic management, efficient waste management and effective communication are a few of the examples most useful in urban environments. Interested in getting involved? Try raising awareness in your community about this issue. Or, check out the important new author Rev. Mae Cannon, an evangelical pastor who works with John Perkins—one of the prophetic figures in transformative urban ministries. To help mark New Year’s 2010 at ReadTheSpirit, we featured an interview with Cannon about her work and her recommendations for getting religious folks out of their pews and into the streets.

Yet as is the case with many technological advances, negative aspects come with the positive, too. As was pointed out by President Obama in a recent speech at Hampton University (watch the video here), open technology puts pressure on democracy. The Christian Science Monitor, too, published an opinion piece that supported the protection of human rights on the Internet.

Care to read more? It’s appropriate that the World Expo is in Shanghai this year. Asia actually is ahead of the U.S. in erasing the digital divide. In 2008, Editor David Crumm reported from Asia about these cutting-edge developments.

Do you use digital technology as a part of your spiritual life? Email us with your examples and opinions at [email protected].

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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