Bernardo Sorj – brazil@digitaldivide.com

This year the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society is taking place in Geneva, and UNESCO is pround to presente the book brazil@digitaldivide.com. This book brings forth a comprehensive reflection on the meaning of information society and that of digital exclusion and the way the latter relates to other forms of social inequality. It also analyzes Brazilian experiences in these areas.
I would like to highlight two aspects which are present in Bernardo Sorj book that strike me as being very important as the World Summit on the Information Society is taking place. The first aspect is related to a mature view in regards to recent globalization processes, which are the backdrop for the progress of the information society. The second aspect is the opportunity the author offers us to ponder the contribution social to the understanding of processes related to creative social use of new information and communication technologies.
Using the concrete experience of a non-governmental organization that works with underprivileged populations in Rio de Janeiro, Bernardo Sorj leads us into a reflection on a type of action based on solidarity advanced by NGOs. It is truly important for us to be aware that, although it has negative effects, globalization is the origin of what the author calls “a unified space for expectations related to equality”. The basis for this is the acknowledgement of the fact that “humanity has a right to equal civilization standards”. These standards consist of a set of material and cultural resources which, when attained by richer nations, become “basic resources”. This side of globalization is not given much thought, but it is an opportunity for the interpretation of movements such as the one that led to the World Summit on the Information Society. In relation to this matter, the spectacle that will be seen in Geneva in December 2003 will be a new step in the global discussion on the principles and actions that will allow the greatest possible expansion of these new civilization standards. This is the condition for the development of the Information Society.

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