Week 3 Summary

Week 3 of Education and Digital Cultures has been difficult for me to manage as I have been without my usual Internet and device access, and my routine has been broken by being away from home, having more demands on my time than usual, and a solid dose of jet lag. The digital environment enables study at a distance, and flexibly alongside other commitments, but the same time it is relentless: we’re connected and able to continue our participation even when doing so creates stress and interferes with other priorities.

The week saw the passing of Toro Iwatani, the creator of Pac-Man, and, combined with reading Sterne’s (2006) chapter on the historiography of cyberculture, this led me to examine the parameters I set when I periodize cyberculture, and how these parameters affect what I include and exclude. It seems that, for me, community culture is significant, despite my tendency to focus on transhuman notions from within cyberpunk. This was also apparent through my reference to Bowie’s webcast in 1999.

Another key theme was the two-way relationship between technology and social practice, which grew out of reading Bayne’s (2015) paper, What’s the Matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’?This focus provided a link to the third block of the course, algorithmic culture, with readings on the internet of toys and the datafication of childhood, which suggested digital technologies are normalising surveillance within social practice, and an analysis of factors affecting adolescents’ news consumption, which suggested that social practices of parents affect adolescent media and device choices. The first two readings prompted thinking on the ethics of human/machine ethics, which I look forward to exploring further in future posts.

Finally, my posts this week explored a tension between ‘enabling’ and ‘enhancing’ medical technologies. The former was represented by a titanium chest implant, the latter a quest to achieve mind-uploading, and a bionic arm with additional features crossed the boundary, both enabling and enhancing. My explorations revealed a persistent discomfort regarding cyborg adaptations that question what it is that it means to be ‘human’, and what we value as ‘human’ performance, and perhaps call for increased ‘posthuman’ thinking on my part.