I.P.O. Information Service

The New Social Media and the Reshaping of Communication in the 21st Century

Lecture by the President of the I.P.O. at Doha Interfaith Conference


Dr. Hans Koechler speaking at the Ninth Doha Interfaith Conference, Al-Dafna Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Doha, Qatar, 25 October 2011

Doha (Qatar) / Vienna (Austria), 4 November 2011


At the invitation of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID), the President of the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.), Dr. Hans Köchler, delivered a special lecture on "The New Social Media and the Reshaping of Communication in the 21st Century: Chance or Challenge for Dialogue?" The Ninth Doha Interfaith Conference (24-26 October 2011) was devoted to the theme: "Social Media and Inter-religious Dialogue: Chance or Challenge for Dialogue?" The conference was opened by the Minister of Justice of the State of Qatar, H.E. Mr. Hassan Bin Abdullah Al Ghanim. The UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, H.E. Mr. Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal, sent a special message to the conference participants. The Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Mustafa Cerić, the Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool (UK), the Most Rev. Patrick Altham Kelly, the former President of the São Paulo Israelite Congregation, Rabbi Henry Sobel (Brazil), the President of the Islamic Call Organization, Field Marshal Abdul Rahman Sowar al-Dahab, former President of Sudan, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson (USA) delivered keynote speeches. Experts and representatives of the three monotheistic religions from over 50 countries presented papers on the pros and cons of the social communication tools and their implications for interfaith dialogue.

In his lecture, Dr. Köchler called for a critical evaluation of the new interactive tools on the perception of social reality. He explained that the new technology often tends to encourage advocacy or propaganda, or rallying around a common cause on the basis of an emotional mindset of “us versus the others,” and to a much lesser extent a balanced or neutral attitude. If we one want to assess the new media’s potential for dialogue, which is the essence of communication, we will first have to evaluate their consequences, unintended or not, in terms of mass psychology. Internet literacy, he concluded, has to be complemented by an awareness of the net’s social impact and a new ethics of communication.

  • Full text of lecture  

  • Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue

  • Declaration of of 9th Doha Conference on Interfaith Dialogue

  • "Religious leaders assess impact of social media"

  • I.P.O. Declaration on a New International Information Order (1984)

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