Week 8: Private : Katelyn Black

It is ever-increasingly clear that our very severance from the digital world is dificult, if not impossible. But the most interesting part about this fact is that most people would not even be able to distinguish all of the things that are actually digital in our world. Gere suggests “In a world dominated by computing technology the computer is no longer simply without ‘emblematic or visual power’… but actually disappearing, becoming invisible” (Gere, 2008). Gere uses this metaphor to describe how our lives, in the developed world, are so saturated by digital technology that the lines between where we end and they begin is seemingly invisible. Therefore, digital technology’s ubiquity and increasing invisibility in society has the effect of making it appear almost natural; as if it has always been around us. People have a tendency to take relatively new technology for granted, as if it “evolved into its present form naturally” (2008).

Although technology has seeped into every corner of our everyday lives, Gere argues that it is important to recognize and acknowledge the hold technology has on our lives, otherwise “the less aware we are of the social and cultural forces out of which our current situation has been constructed the less able we are to resist and question the relations of power and force it embodies” (2008). To me, this theme has stood out as one of the most important “take-away” lessons from Digital Culture, the fact that media makers and audiences alike must both recognize the forces of digital culture that drive and shape so many aspects of modern day life. In order to fully understand life as we know it, we must first understand the deepness of the roots of technology in our lives. Only then can we begin to understand the power and drive that online forms have.

As we have seen throughout the course of this novel, computers have created a space for not only information sharing, but has emerged through the counter-culture to represent ideals of bottom-up liberation. Giving voices to the grassroots underbellies of various communities has been a large motivation in driving social change through online means. These movements have created ideas of the computing as a general utopian vision of technology as socially progressive and capable of expanding human potential (2008). Gere points out, “Even though most people’s experience of computing is fairly mundane, it retains a counter-culture aura as a liberatory technology, the use of which will advance humanity, much as LSD was supposed to in the 1960’s” (2008).

Gere advances this thought by quoting Michel Bauwens, the founder of the P2P Foundation. Bauwens is a big supporter of peer to peer relations and makes claims that technology reflects a change in consciousness towards participation. These ideas suggest a form of information commons that has been seen in olden day trade markets. “[Bauwen] suggests that peer to peer technology has the potential of showing that the new egalitarian digital culture is connected to the older traditions of cooperating among workers and peasants and to the search for an engaged and meaningful life as expressed in one’s work, which becomes an expression of individual and collective creativity, rather than as a salaried means of survival” (2008).  The idea of moving back to a form of participation for the greater good of society is something I think is becoming increasingly clear as we study different forms of digital culture. Projects that have a participatory element are becoming increasingly more popular and more important for the emergence of a new form of subjectivity and connection in a modern day world.

Good summary!  And now you will see, in the final chapters of Jenkins, how Gere’s future thinking is being realized now, across networks of participation…what a difference from 2008 to 2013!

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