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Abstract -- Internet: Supporting Democratic Changes in the Post-Communist Slovak Republic Policy Track
P2: Democracy

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Internet: Supporting Democratic Changes in the Post-Communist Slovak Republic

Vystavil, Martin ( vystavil@savba.sk)

Abstract

The role of communication is vital for both people and society. Both groups use different communication means which suffer from certain handicaps. The telephone, fax, and classical mail do not provide sufficient comfort and they can hardly be adjusted to the demands of, for example, group communication. Television and radio broadcasting and newspapers are the one-way-type media which do not meet the demand of interaction.

Communication media have become a subject of power struggles, which is especially evident in post-communist countries. The dependence on state and the media subsidized by state make it easier for incorrectly behaving power circles to influence the wide public. Therefore, a need has arisen for creating a platform for mutual communication between individuals which would operate independently of a central supervisor and would be able to flexibly satisfy users' demands. Internet appears to be such type of a platform. Thousands of Slovak students have access to the network's services every day. The fact itself works as an irreversible change in the consciousness of people. However, other social groups are not included, which poses a problem to be solved.

The LOGOS project is an attempt to make the world of Internet accessible to citizens of Slovakia and provide a bridge to Slovakia for citizens of the world. The project aims at creating an information platform which would provide relevant evidence on present events in Slovakia and open space for interesting personalities and institutions from various social groups. Based on the WWW system, the project has been initiated at the Computing Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

The co-operation principle is very simple. An institution or a person addressed will provide information which equals to forming their presentation within our system and taking legal responsibility for the presentation. We will provide, free of charge, HW-SW means and consultation if necessary. The project is meant to be a time-limited one by a period of one year.

The form of the project has turned out to be successful with a number of interesting people and institutions from the cultural, state, social and media spheres that we have so far managed to invite. The most interesting seems to be co-operation with various media institutions in Slovakia. We have succeeded in inviting the most prominent Slovak dailies. We have currently been co-operating with three of them, receiving their production every day. New projects have been launched with others.

We feel that having complete issues of dailies freely accessible through WWW is a unique thing even from the world's perspective. The interest is enormous: a daily audience of 5000 readers read an average of 100 KBytes. The numbers are going up. (To illustrate this: Internet in Slovakia has about 10 000 users.)

Hence we have managed to create an information platform for our citizens and Slovakia's friends scattered around the globe.

Under co-operation with a commercial firm specialized in monitoring TV and radio stations, we have made accessible interesting publicistic programmes from all close sources in Central Europe. We offer our assistance in forming a presentation, and, newspaper readers, for example, can not only send E-mail right away while they read, but they can also take part in the daily's conferring and discuss individual events with each other.

A significant room in the project is covered by cultural institutions like galleries, book publishers, and electronic book re-editions.

We consider very interesting the presentation by the Institute of social care of mentally handicapped children. Presentations of individual pupils are much interesting, and we are convinced their presence in the project brings in a new dimension.

It is worth mentioning that almost all participants in the project have become active users of the network.

The success of the project is determined to a large degree by the specific situation in today's post-communist Slovakia where abrupt changes have still been taking place. We believe it is necessary to form space for discussion, mutual communication, and sharing positive values. We are pleased that in this turbulent era we can contribute with small irreversible changes in the consciousness of people to the democratic development of our young state.

URL = http://www.savba.sk/logos/list-e.html