Abstract - The Information Society 18(4)

The Web of Time and the Dilemma of Globalization

Soraj Hongladarom

Time is affected significantly by the spread of the Internet throughout the world. On the one hand, the new communication technologies provide for 'round the clock' operation, threatening to obliterate time as a function of a culture's sense of identity. On the other hand, the Internet enables local cultures to resist the globalizing and homogenizing tide. The situation points to a dilemma. Local cultures find it hard to resist integrating itself with the world through the Internet, but at the same time they feel a real need to protect and to promote their identities. This paper tries to show that local cultures find the medium an appropriate and effective one in putting forward their agenda. As the globalizing force signified by the Internet tends to occur at a superficial level, different conceptions of time can coexist at the same time. The emerging conception of time is thus characterized neither by the pre-modern one of identification of time with nature, nor by the modern one of an abstract entity pointing forward, but by a 'web' allowing for different strands to go their own way while weaved together to create a coherent pattern, and this is how the dilemma is resolved. A case study of the Thai conceptions of time and the current debate on changing the time standard is presented in order to illustrate the point.

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