ICTs and the spread of indigenous knowledge

12 Oct 2009

At first glance, the relationship between indigenous knowledge and the Internet seems fraught.

Indigenous knowledge provides a distinct set of beliefs, practices and representations avidly tied to place; the internet lauds itself for erasing boundaries and borders.

On one hand, the traditions encapsulated in indigenous knowledge are culturally unique, using local understanding to solve local problems. This makes it an important component in the fields of ecology, education, agriculture and health security. On the other hand, the internet is lauded for spreading information to help people, but it is also a bazaar, tilted towards large corporations and the economies of scale:, Google, Microsoft, PayPal. Indigenous knowledge has certain spiritual and ceremonial components; the internet is largely agnostic, and makes a good deal of money peddling pornography.

For all their perceived differences, the indigenous knowledge and global knowledge systems have become much closer in the past decade. Indigenous knowledge practitioners have begun leveraging different media to exchange ideas and publicize traditional learning to the larger world.

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