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Testing the waters

Funny – my original plan was to erase this post but seeing how the comments followed my seemingly insignificant announcement ‘Hurrah I got in’, I decided to write up a post summarising my ideas spurred by the conversation below (perhaps a new precedent in blog writing?;-)

When musing over the term ‘digital culture’, I thought naively it’s like culture but digital, which made me think what culture is. If culture is a set of assumptions, beliefs, symbols and behaviours typical of humans grouped in a society, is ‘digital culture’ the same but transplanted into the digital world? A kind of Human Circuitry?

Being a linguist and into a word play, I cannot help noticing that the root of the phrase in question is ‘culture’, which makes it carry the main meaning, the adjective ‘digital’ being just a modifying element. You could say then that the word ‘culture’ has a kind of hegemony over the phrase. Taking it further, you could say it is trying to colonise the phrase, imposing its values, customs and habits … Yes? Or am I taking it too far?

But why on our wallwisher wall, Sian complains about digital texts replicating analogous writing instead of coming up with new formulas or, on the course design module site, somebody rants about colleagues trying to use e-platforms to hand out PDF worksheets. Wouldn’t it be ‘culture’ invading and colonising the ‘digital’? Following Cousin’s argument from last term that often technology is perceived as a tool in the hand of a human and so pushed to a subservient role, it seems to me that the term ‘digital culture’ might be often and easily misconstrued, especially in popular beliefs. The terms ‘organic’ and ‘machinic’ might sound incongruous on the surface but as Jeremy points out below they do mingle smoothly in a metaphorist interplay. So perhaps the two could penetrate each other more persistently, blurring the boundaries and growing together into something novel (uncanny?) instead of invasive transplantation and transgression? The blurring would facilitate, in my view, the process of becoming, a space in-between the definite points, where things are less certain, experimented on, tried out and therefore exciting , a breeding ground for new seeds … Am I being overidealistic? Is it too much of utopia?

~ by Ania Rolińska on September 12, 2011 . Tagged:

33 Responses to “Testing the waters”

  1.   Jen Ross Says:

    nice job, Ania! Good to see you’ve been experimenting with the look of your site as well. I like your choice. :-)

    •   Anna Katarzyna Rolinska Says:

      Thanks Jen – There’ll be more to follow in regard to experimentation – let the weekend come and the course begin! It feels good to be organising a new online space and ponder what will become of it, what it will grow into in a few weeks’ time …

  2.   Jen Ross Says:

    The organic metaphor of growth is a good one, I think – and an interesting one as we start to consider hybridity and human-machine relationships. Roll on week 1!

    •   Anna Katarzyna Rolinska Says:

      Ha, on the surface it might seem incongruous, technologies and machines and the idea of being organic, could these two be married? But the metaphor works, always been working for me since I discovered a blog post on ‘how to grow a blog’ .. and I perceive learning and life in general as process, journey, growing and becoming … Things are not what they are, they are what the become (Bachelard) … maybe more about it in the ‘About’ section??

  3.   Jeremy Keith Knox Says:

    Hi Anna, its excellent to read some really interesting ideas coming out already.

    In considering affinities between the ‘machinic’ and the ‘organic’, I think ‘metaphor’ itself is an interesting way to frame our understandings. ‘Natural’ tropes may help us to get to grips with technology (growing, surfing?!), but it also seems to work the other way around. Technological terms appear to permeate our understandings of the organic: for example, the ‘mental processes’ of cognitivist learning theory, or the ‘codes’ used to describe genetics.

    Great reference to Bachelard. If you know the work of Gilles Deleuze, the notion of ‘becoming’ is a distinctive feature of his work (1987), and I think he was certainly influenced by Bachelard. The idea of persistent growth or ‘becoming’ is fantastic way to think about the blogs and lifestreams, and I look forward to how yours progress in the coming weeks!

    Deleuze, G. (1987)


    •   Siân Bayne Says:

      Hi Anna, and welcome. I like some of the writing which draws into question the very distinction between the natural and the cultural/technological – more on this later in the course when we look at Donna Haraway’s work among others. Great to see the blog starting to take shape.

  4.   Siân Bayne Says:

    Another nice post Ania – I do like the way you are interrogating ‘culture’ and ‘digital’ here. I wonder what you made of the Hand reading on this? – in particular perhaps his point that in its contemporary (digital) modes, culture is ‘ubiquitous’ – it’s not ‘out there’ any more but (quoting Lash and Lury) ‘seeps out of the superstructure and comes to infiltrate, and then take over, the infrastructure itself.’

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