Digital senses

I have recently finished reading Sterne’s ‘The hystiograpgy of cyberculture’ and was intrigued by some of the thought-provoking suggestions that he offered. When I think of a cyborg I picture a half human/half machine hybrid that has all the personal qualities of a person blended with the enhanced offerings of robotics.

What initially I didn’t think of was the way in which technology can enhance our senses. I appreciate that the focus of Sterne’s piece was of the making of history and the timeline of technological integration, and he clearly states that he is merely using sound as an example to re-enforce his point – however I think his analogy is worthy of reflection.

I recently attended a conference on assistive technologies and one of the keynote speakers, Gareth Ford Williams – Head of Accessibility for the BBC – described the public broadcaster’s efforts to enhance their radio transmissions towards a modernised and futuristic sounding “3D Radio”. In short, they are adopting technology to manipulate our brain’s interpretation of sound to create a better than life experience and to immerse people in transmission rather than passively listening.

3D Radio Video (Kelly 2016):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03smbxv

The same can be said for virtual reality. Our sense of sight is being manipulated to take us to places that we couldn’t otherwise go. 3D technologies allow us to explore internal organs in their functioning form and explore geographical location outwits our reach.  I would suggest that mechanical enhances the physical, virtual enhances the spiritual.

But  to what extent to the physical and spiritual need to be enhanced for us to concede that whether we like it or not, technological advances are becoming an integral part of our every day lives and society? Perhaps we have reached the glass ceiling of humanity where we have reached our potential but see and crave the need for more.

I have also been considering the histiography of cyberculture that Sterne proceeds to investigate. He mentions transition from analogue to digital – To that I’d add digital immigrants to digital natives, human to cyborg, offline to online and physical to virtual.


References

Kelly, S. (2016). The head giving you 3D VR sound. Retrieved: 26 January 2017. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03smbxv