BBC News is doing something beyond news this week: they are trying to build bridges directly between their first-world readership and people in Afghanistan. They have selected six Afghans from a small village, from very different walks of life and different ages, and are inviting readers to email the villagers to ask questions or talk.
It's moderated, not a direct email link, but that's probably for the best (especially if translation is involved, which I assume it is). I'm impressed that they're facilitating communication between individual people, because that plants the seeds for real understanding and cooperation across cultures, lowering the boundaries of distance, nationality, and race. And while this sort of thing could have been done with print media hundreds of years ago, I've never heard of an instance before; I think the internet has lowered the bar enough that it's now easy and fast, and I hope we see more of it. I'd like to see this happen on a broader scale, with people in low-income areas of Africa, southeast Asia, and Latin America, as well.
I wonder if a similar thing can be done with blogs by setting up cross-cultural sites that people from places like England and Aghanistan can both post to. It would still run up against translation and other issues, but it would be a more localized solution rather than relying on the BBC or a similarly size institution.