While a precise forecast for the next decades is clearly impossible, some major challenges that need to be addressed in the next 10-20 years can be identified. Technologically there will be a shift from Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to Universal Convergence Technologies (UCT). In the cultural realm, these challenges include problems of repositories, the changing scope of cultural heritage; new links between national, regional and local; between culture, knowledge and scholarship; approaches to intellectual property and to models of culture. Five dangers are outlined, namely, over-zealous commercialism; anti-technology among scholars, anti-universal narratives; forgetting the past and a systematic destruction of memory. The need for a permanent E-Culture Net is outlined which would a) address these challenges; b) develop critical methods; c) create new models of culture that transcend Euro-Centric visions and d) focus on a Distributed European Electronic Resource (DEER).
The American vision of the Internet remains focusses largely on uni-lingual e-commerce. By contrast, the European vision, through its links with tourism, clearly has financial dimensions, and at the same time is developing a multi-lingual approach to cultural heritage that includes historical and cultural dimensions. This vision extends beyond culture to new definitions of knowledge. While the rhetoric of the day may focus on profit schedules for the next quarter, it is important to recall that major changes in new media have much longer cycles entailing decades and even centuries before their full effects are appreciated.