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[Caizhai Lecture] Xie Xinzhou: Internet and the Renaissance of Chinese Culture

MAY . 26 2017
Peking University, May 17, 2017: The emergence of the internet has deeply changed the course of human civilization. As humans entered into the internet era, production factors went through massive changes, and the socialization of science and technology gains momentum. Intellectualized labor has become a milestone in the development of human civilization.

On the evening of May 11, 2017, Xie Xinzhou, director of the PKU School of New Media, gave a lecture in Caizhai Hall. He made an in-depth interpretation of the theme "Internet and the Renaissance of Chinese Culture" from three perspectives, the period when humans entered into the internet era, the ideology of internet, and the internet and the renaissance of Chinese culture.
 
 

Caizhai Hall 140th lecture given by Xie Xinzhou
 
How do we define an era? Xie Xinzhou started the lecture with the definition of "era". He introduced the criteria of distinguishing different economic periods, which can be found in Marx’s Capital. The criteria is based on production methods and economic systems. Unlike the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the information revolution intellectualizes human's labor, socializes science and technology, and combines technological development with the society. It also prompts the revolution of all factors of production. Humans have also entered into the internet era. The internet promotes both China's hard and soft power. China must seize the historic opportunity of information revolution and realize the revival of Chinese culture.
 
What the internet brings together is not cold machines, but people with flesh and blood. Xie Xinzhou said the progress of human intelligence always occurs after debating with predecessors. Internet thinking is about freedom (including freedom of expression and information communication) and equality. Since the 1960s, the internet has witnessed the Cold War, the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement, and its development has always been accompanied by the rise of new social trends. The power of reflection and reconstruction of the current society, economy and culture can always be detected on the internet. Just like the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the May Fourth Movement and the 1980s ideological liberation, the internet is now leading a new enlightenment of human liberation.


Students listening to the lecture
 
As the internet reshapes the world, the concept of territory becomes intangible. Xie Xinzhou pointed out that although internet technology contains the genes of western values, the internet belongs to world, with China included. China can rely on its own wisdom and localization of the internet to earn its place in the world. Besides, consensus can be reached through discussion and innovation so as to reconstruct common cultural values, and help us regain cultural self-confidence. What’s more, establishing public opinion spaces, communication channels and scientific management mechanisms are of vital importance. By achieving these, we can seize the strategic opportunities of the internet, achieve the “peaceful rise”, and help to establish a fairer world.
 

Q&A section
 
"The internet belongs to the whole world. The internet is ours, it is also yours. Let us welcome the advent of the internet community." Xie Xinzhou encouraged students present at the lecture with these words, which also marked the end of this semester's Caizhai Hall lectures. In the Q&A session, discussion included concepts of internet community, internet monitoring and managerial methods of online news.
 
Written by: Qian Kang
Edited by: Wang Yuqing/Gan Zhonghao