Dominique Wolton
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Lost in transmission : understanding is key

Canberra Times (Australie), 7 mai 2009

Communicator : Dominique Wolton is director of the Communication Sciences Institute at the National Centre for Scientific Research in France. Dr Wolton is in Australia for lectures at the ANU and the University of Melbourne.

By Aarol Ridgway

Technology may have changed the speed of transmission, but communication is still limited by how readily a message can be understood, according to a visiting media and communications specialist.
Dominique Wolton, director of the Communication Sciences lnstitute at the
National Centre for Scientific Research in France, delivered a lecture titled Political communication : Politics, the Media and Public Opinion at the ANU last night.
Dr Wolton called on politicians to « reinvent democracy » to harness the potential of new technology and globalisation.
« The challenge of democracy is to help people live together in peace, and communication isn’t always successfull », he said. « If you put 500,000 computers between Israël and Palestine, you won’t get peace because peace results from political will... It isn’t about sending information quickly, it is more about building communication between people and across languages, and managing the speed of communication against the slowness of people. »
More than 100 people came to hear Dr Wolton, who is the author of more than 30 books and countless academic papers.
Although politicians were accused of dishonesty, the « worst cancer of democracy » was to believe all politicians were liars.
« They are tethered to the past, and must provide the public with a vision of the future even though there isn’t one » he said.
« They lie no more than scientists, journalists, businessmen, because the public is always watching them. »
He believes social networking phenomena such as Facebook and Twitter are merely modern solutions to age-old problems, and points out that despite huge growth and rapid uptake, fewer than 4 per cent of the wold’s population uses Facebook.
He said the future was not technology itself, but the way it is used.
« The main belief is that better technology equals better communication, and that’s not true. The problem is not to send information quickly but to have common understanding. »
Dr Wolton met with University of Canberra academics on Tuesday as part of his visit to Australia. He is to give a lecture titled Globalisation and Cultural Diversity at the University of Melbourne tonight.

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