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    Community Buliding Essay (697 words)

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    Building Online Communities of PracticeForewordInformation and communication technologies are developing at a breath-taking pace. They repre-sent the foundation of the coming Information Society which will establish completely new struc-tures in economy and society.

    This process is chiefly characterised by the globalisation of com-munication and of all activities linked to it. National frontiers are losing their significance. We are becoming global players, and services and goods can be produced in any part of the world. At the same time there is no aspect of human life and no group in society which is not affected by the new information networks and their potential for growth, wealth-creation and prosperity. In order to exploit this potential we urgently need international cooperation at all levels and on all factors which impede the full development of the Information Society.

    In view of this challenge the German government has always placed great emphasis on global cooperation. This was reflected in its active role in the Global Information Society initiative taken by the G 7 Heads of State and Government at the summit meeting in Naples in July 1994 and at the subsequent Ministerial meeting in Brussels in 1995 which launched eleven pilot projects for the Global Information Society. I am delighted to present the final report on this work to the public on the occasion of the Co-logne G 8 summit meeting, which is being held under the German presidency. The pilot projects are an impressive demonstration of the potential of the Information Society in many areas, such as commerce, culture, education, the environment, health and public administra-tion.

    They have led to the establishment of new structures of cooperation which will remain effec-tive even after the end of the pilot phase. The involvement of a growing number of Non-G 8 countries, including developing countries, was one of the most encouraging aspects of the pro-jects, as was the participation of representatives from industry and research. With an enhanced exchange of information and experience the work has raised awareness of po-tential applications and of policy requirements. The projects have also yielded more tangible re-sults like memoranda of understanding and have given an impetus for standardisation and the de-velopment of new goods and services. This was done without any new institution or new funding: the process relied on the goodwill and the commitment of the participants. I hope that the global cooperation to which the pilot projects have contributed, can be further developed and extended.

    Dr. Werner MllerFederal Minister of Economics and TechnologyGermanyJune 1999ContentsForeword by Dr. Werner Mller, Federal Minister of Economics and Technologypage 1Final report on the G 8 Global Information Society Pilot Projectspage 4Annex: Project ReportsGlobal Inventory Projectpage 12Global Interoperability for Broadband Networkspage 15Transcultural Education and Training for Language Learningpage 19Electronic Librariespage 23Multimedia Access To World Cultural Heritagepage 28Environment and Natural Resources Managementpage 32Global Emergency Management Information Network Initiativepage 35Global Healthcare Applicationspage 38Government On-linepage 44Global Marketplace for Small and Medium Enterprisespage 48Maritime Information Societypage 51The G 8 Global Information Society Pilot ProjectsFinal ReportThe information society is developing at a rapid pace. It is changing the way business is done in the private and public sectors and is having real impact on the lives of citizens. The Global Infor-mation Society initiative taken by the G7 Heads of State and Government at its summit meeting in Naples in July 1994 and the subsequent Ministerial meeting in Brussels in 1995 with the launching of eleven pilot projects has catalysed thinking and action for the information society in areas such as commerce, culture, education, the environment, health and public administration. It has encou-raged public and private sectors to work together and has led to new common platforms and net-works for cooperation, involving industrialised and developing countries.

    It has stimulated the creation of markets for new products and services. A number of techni-cal and other obstacles have been identified related to the implementation of practical applica-tions. In some cases work will continue through collaboration in appropriate international fora. This final report reviews achievements and future pro-spects.

    1. Terms of referenceThe pilot projects had a number of key objectives. They were set up to’support the goal of international consensus on common principles governing the need of ac-cess to networks and applications and their interoperability;? establish the groundwork for productive forms

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