It seems natural to wince at a cellphone at the ear of a person of pure ethniticity, like this Tibetan woman chatting into edgy technology. We hear the lament that cultural diversity is being lost for all time. In a New York Times story today about the apparent swamping of Tibet by Chinese, the careful words of a Tibetan village teenager are quoted: “There are some differences between our own beliefs and the way we are taught,” he said, diplomatically. “You could say we have many legends and tales which are not taught to us in school.”
Something quite wonderful has been happening because of the internet to the legends, tales, languages and other possessions of diverse cultures. They are being preserved digitally and shared broadly. Thousands of languages are already well preserved online. Take for example this website on Native American Culture. Do you need the Cherokee font? wants some language tapes in Cheppewa? or a list of 1900 words in Saanich. Only a tiny number of specialists, separated by great distances, could have possessed such things before the internet. Even more interesting is to realize entirely new areas of comparision and study are created by aggregating once widely dispersed cultural materials. New understanding arises with digital rebirth of peoples of the past.