Chapter 1: Americanizing Palestine Though Internet Development Helga Tawil-Souri Information Society & MulticulturalismProfessor Han Woo Park Presented by Se Jung Park 2009.10.1
IT4Youth is internet development project in the Palestinian Territories. It describes itself as a nonprofit project. It’s aim is enhancing the learning skills and employability of Palestinian youth through the creation of in-school computer labs and regional IT centers open to the public. The program is a collaborative mission between two NGOs, the Welfare Association and International Youth Foundation, US Agency, the Intel Corporation, other US-based corporations. The case of IT4Youth
IT4 Youth’s goal is to “build a ‘digital bridge’, reducing the digital divide and helping to create a educational playing field for Palestinian youth.” It hopes to develop a pool of IT proficiant youth and national IT industry. The project provides implications on the role of the Internet in non-Western societies and the development process. The objectives of this chapter are not only to heighten awareness of local Internet practices but also to analyze the relationship between communication technology, development, and the expansion of capitalism.
Palestinian government has had little direct involvement in pursuing a managed IT strategy. Internet develoment has been driven by foreign privaate donors andmostly American NGOs. The Second Intifada opened the way for making the Internet “one of the few growth industries in the Plestinian economy.” Behind iInternet growth
Intetnet usage in Palestine Sources from www.internetworldstats.com
The popularity and use of the Internet in Palestine society hasn’t been universal. There is a clear divide along class and geographical lines. The Internet and other new media are more popular among the elete(urban, middle-upper class, educated, employed citizens). Based on in-depth interviews, observations, usage statistics at IT4Youth, the new mediun is used as an online dating service and entertainment tool, (Online game, chatting.) but rarely as an ecomonic neccessity of for the political struggle. Toward a digital divide?
In palestine, like IT4Youth project ensures Palestinians’ status as “developed” but it causes Americanization of Palestinian society. 1) The need for competence in the English language 2) The increasing number of Amercan capital, finally, the uncritical adoption of neoliberal strategies for develoment The Americanization of IT development
Actually, the Internet requires English proficiency. One young man said “of course there are Arabic wesites, but we all know that the world of the Internet is the world of English.” His friend added “I think to use the Internet without knowing English is to miss a lot.” Without knowledge of English, the Internet was limited and limiting.
Americanization is taking place in the material realm through the dominace of American NGOs and corporations as the forces behind Internet development. In every sector of Internet development, the majority of projects have been driven by the interests of American nonpofit, for-profit organizations. Expansion of American capital
This is perpetuated expecially as peace processes and negociations continue to be sponsored by the US. So, this brings out Palestinian policies are globally oriented rather than internally. Eventually, Palestine becomes a node in the blobal expansion and exchange of American capital The Americanization of IT development
It is important to recognize the chansges have happened at a particular time in history and are charged with a particular ideology in the Territories. The recomfiguration of the global economy post-1991 led to anxieties among the Palestinian eletes regarding where they would fit in the new world ecomonic order. Internet dependency
Americanization processes have led to a deepening dependency on the Western core. Developing countries uncritically adopt the claims that the Internet enables to jump-srart a nation’s economic capacity. It is based on purely financial perspective. But real is different. Rather, IT development cannot offer economic benefit to the societies of developing countires. This is because Profits are repatriated offshore.
Like the case of IT4Youth, American high-tech firm, developing countires became more dependent on others to provide essential infrastructure services and sustain ins hiche market than before. E.g.) Since its grand opening in mid-2003, IT4Youth has had to hire experts from the US, overpay for its Intel-and HP-approved hardware, and left huge debts. Internet dependency
The irony is that the goal of training locals to obtain Internet and technical skills were not to be used for the center of Palestine. Information society as an icon of modernization becomes a new form of colonization, reinforcing a world of contact and influence between asymmetrical economies. Internet dependency
Conclusion While the Internet can link users globally and enable information to flow across borders, location still matters in shaping both the creation of the infrastructure needed and online activities. It is important to consider that offline activities also determine the development and expansion of the Internet. While Internet development brings liberating, democratizing, and positive possibilities, in this case it also creates a form of unequal exchange between the industrialized West and the Palestinians.
Thank you for your attention! Se Jung Park firstname.lastname@example.org Dept of Media & Communication, YeungNam University, Korea WCU Webometrics Institute , YeungNam University, Korea http://english-webometrics.yu.ac.kr