Jonathan Sterne argues that ‘we need to be more careful in our object construction’ (2006, p. 18), and not just assume that we know what cyberculture is. He suggests that the danger in doing so is that significant parts of cyberculture, such as sound/audio, are overlooked.
Sterne also highlights the role of periodization in deciding what is or is not included in our construction of (historical) concepts. In cyberculture studies the standards of periodization include (Sterne, 2006, p. 23):
- by technology: computers – personal computers – Internet
- by art: avant-garde art – cyberpunk – cyberculture
- by economics: fordism – postfordism
Sterne calls for less acceptance of historical periods as ‘self-evident categories in our data, and more like problems to be considered and debated’ (p. 24). This prompted me to interrogate my own ideas of when cyberculture ‘started’. Can we include arcade culture, or is the separation between human and machine and the limited connectedness* within it, too far conceptually from the connected worlds of the Internet, and the socially/bodily integrated nature of digital technologies assumed/witnessed in more ‘traditional’ notions of cyberculture?
*for me, arcade ‘culture’ provided the first opportunity to play against unknown others – but the experience was tied to the location of the game played on, and examination of ‘top scores’ on return to the arcade/pub housing the game. I still don’t know who BK_STONE was/is.. but they were very good at Pac Man..
Do parents still model news consumption? Socializing news use among adolescents in a multi-device world – Jan 23, 2017
February 01, 2017 at 04:49PM
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I previously referred to Bourdieu’s (1984) work, with reference to his suggestion that the human body has always been a site where social distinction is sought and that by extension, using technology to enhance human appearance and capacity is part of a continuing tradition. In the linked article (above) could be said to bring into play another of Bourdieu’s concepts, cultural capital.
The study in the article examined the impact of socialisation on adolescents’ news consumption:
Results indicate that parental modeling remains an important factor in socializing news consumption, even when modeling takes place via mobile devices. Additionally, we find consistent evidence for “matched modeling” between the devices parents use for news and those used by youth.
My interest was spurred by Bayne’s (2015) assertion that digital technologies cannot be separated from social practice. The use of hand-held devices and prevalence of screens in homes has seen media consumption become individualised, changing ‘social practice’:
Media use inside the home is increasingly individualized as parents and children adopt mobile devices and often use them behind closed doors, in a shift toward what Livingstone (2007) has called the privatized “bedroom culture.”
Connecting the results of the study to cyberculture, many of the fears expressed in cyberpunk relate to the increasing gaps between rich and poor or able and not able – for example, in Blade Runner anyone who can afford it and is declared fit for it has left for the Off-World colonies. The study shows how access to digital technologies alone is not an enabler or equalizer – how it is used, and how it is talked about has significant impact; technologies are not adopted universally in the same ways. Yes, digital technologies impact on social practice, but culture also impacts on how digital technologies are used.