Posted by Robyn Gotch
As I contemplate the concept of culture, more specifically cultures in an electronic sense, I find that there are some elements that do not necessarily jibe with main-stream cultural ideas. Online or electronic cultures seem to be a bit more malleable. The members of these cultural communities tend to fade in and out and change much more easily than members of a culture rooted in long-term traditions. As I thought about this, it seems to me that the reasons could be attributed to the internet itself. As a medium of expression and communication, the internet is a virtual (no pun intended) infant. If this is the case, then how can a culture even exist? Wouldn’t you consider a culture to be something of a more static and solid nature? Because the traditional connotation of culture conjures images of generations of members who have developed traditions and morals over a period of time, how can the internet produce cultures of its own in such a short period of time?
I would venture to say that the internet has not produced culture.
Culture has been uncovered and nurtured through this device; however, the internet is just this – a portal to view people through and bring them together. Because you can boot up, log in and figuratively “step through” the portal to a new land, a room full of friends or even the halls of an institution, I see the internet not as the culture, but as a venue for people of similar interests to come together and be recognized.
I have belonged to many cultural societies over the course of my time perusing the internet. What I find interesting is that these societies are not new to my being; they are merely doorways that I step through to do something that I am already inclined to be a part of. I play games (World of Warcraft, Asheron’s Call and others), go to school, and talk about family and other interests that are mere extensions of me, not new me’s. This is what I mean: The internet did not make me play games; I already played similar games with my family on Nintendo. The internet did not make me learn to cook, sew, bead or do other crafts – it was merely a tool to help me learn. I could have gotten a book or asked someone or joined a local club for this type of support. The internet did not make me go to UW Stout; I could have gone to the University in person if I had to. Facebook was not necessarily for me to speak to my family and friends. If these activities create what someone would call a new culture, then I believe the term needs to be re-thought.
Bernadette Longo makes some great references to online communities in her article: Human + Machine Culture. Here she refers to the differences between the way non-electronic communities and the universal community that can occur online. I believe that her reference to the impossibility of a universal community is something I very much agree with. In mainstream communities, there are those that are included and others that are left out. While this may seem to happen online, (maybe through a facebook page that friends and unfriends), this is but a small aspect of the larger whole. But what I think is more interesting than this is the commitment that is lacking online. People hope from site to site, and literally take a bit from here and a bit from there but really do not have to commit to anything on the internet. Yes, in our courses we are making commitments; however, can the instructor really holler to you as you leave class and hold you back? Even an email request can go ignored and later some electronic glitch of an excuse can be noted.
This is actually a first post this week. As I was reading about culture in Spilka, I just could not resist “sounding off” about the concept of culture. I also want to post about LinkedIn as well because this is an amazing resource that I am still getting used to. One of the questions I want to ask is: Should I pay for the full service?
About Robyn GotchAfter many years of quilting, sewing and long-arm quilting for myself, I felt it was time to offer these same services to the public. You will find that because I am a quilter myself, your projects will be treated with the same care and respect that I do my own.
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