Intercultural links, flaws and sensitivity online

One thing that did not take place at the GHP was a videoconference between Paradiso and Siggraph in Washington and some people in San Francisco. Despite the fact that I have more than 30 pages of communication about this in my folder, discussing how to set it up, who would participate, etc., it did not take place. The tone of the Americans was too slick for us. Even though we would have had impressive guests via the video-link, the way they were producing this did not fit the way we produced things in Paradiso at the time. Immediately there was a special fundraiser (who asked Bill Gates to fund it), a marketing person, and a person who said what everyone had to say to make the image of the industry look good. They started giving orders very quickly in the communication process. Craig Larson wrote to us on July 20th:

"It is important that the media sees this gathering as a gathering of the Positive Cyberhero" types... to begin counteracting the "Bad Hacker" image that has been wrongly projected by the fearful press in recent years.(... ) I feel this is a Historical Event of tremendous importance... this is the first time in history that the cyber heroes of Europe, the East Coast and the West Coast will be aligned 'together' at one time. Who knows what changes will happen in the larger world as a result of this meeting! The International Press will be invited, the techno-dignitaries will be present and masses will be waiting for the results of this Euro-American Techno Summit.
Do not let anything get in your way... I know this is new for you and you can trust me and U.S. Sprint to come thru for you and everyone at the event. It is imperative that you check your e-mail here right when you wake up, during the day, and at night... so we can stay aligned and coordinated so that it goes easy for you." (Personal Folder Organization, 1989)

The fact that Captain Crunch knew them through "The programmers network" did not make things any better since they behaved like his employers. Even when I re-read the exchanged communication today, it irritates me. I realise that there is a cultural difference, a difference in historical context, nevertheless, we perceived the communication as arrogant at the time. However, Rop Gonggrijp comments that he did not experience my perceived difference in the same way. He was aware of the American way of dealing with technology at the time. They were stakeholders in the concept of 'hackers', and he was impressed with the quality of their work in the different reality of USA politics at the time. For that reason we had invited John Draper (Captain Crunch) and Lee Felsenstein. Possibly Patrice Riemens' and my perception of American politics influenced how we understood the communication and it did not work out (financial considerations also influenced this decision). Intercultural communication skills, and an awareness of different political situations are indispensable in such cases. The video-link that was not established is a clear example of not conveying trustworthiness since our languages and our way of acting in the world were apparently too different.