eCulture: The European Perspective was the title of a round table meeting jointly organised by Culturelink, the Network of Networks for Research and Cooperation in Cultural Development, and Circle, the Cultural Information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe, which was held in Zagreb, Croatia, on 24-27 April 2003. The meeting brought together 81 researchers, policy-makers and practitioners from 19 European countries, Canada, Korea and Australia.
During the past ten-odd years, Culturelink and Circle have enjoyed close cooperation in numerous activities, ranging from research projects on topics of vital importance to the global cultural development, and the creation of cultural policy databases, to the joint publication of books and periodicals, and the exchange of information and expertise in intercultural dialogue. This cooperation is, perhaps, the best indicator of networks functioning as dynamic systems of communication, exchange and partnership, characterized by openness and flexibility.
Digital technologies and the network environment have faced us with new possibilities and challenges. Thus, the eCulture conference brought into focus topics that are vital for ensuring the future of our freedom of choice, our creative freedoms and our insight into existing knowledge recorded through the cultural heritage. New forms of cultural expression, new contexts and new contents call for rethinking (national) cultural policy and international communication. As Ritva Mitchell stresses in her Introduction, "the articles in this volume show the way to new thinking and research on the concepts of information society and eCulture".
This volume comprises 14 papers, reflecting the richness of ideas and thoughts about our world in a time of change and a search for new solutions. Our thanks go to all contributors of this volume for their dedication and effort in the attempt to meet the challenges of the 21st century.