| Because We Are Digital

Source: Micah Lindenberger

Source: Micah Lindenberger

The reading Because We Are Digital; Crossing the Boundaries, written in 1999 by Charles Traub and Jonathan Lipkin depicts a rather optimistic and positive view of the computer and its new role in human expression and creativity. They mention several times a technological revolution, which would ultimately result in democratization of knowledge and art, as well as enhancing creativity.

The computer can be considered as a valuable asset when it comes to creating a new democratic, universal and diverse way to communicate. The computer makes it so easy to share information throughout the Web; it has become a constantly expanding territory of thought, commerce and entertainment in which everybody can collaborate (6). This is what the authors mean by “creative interlocutor”; with the arrival of the computer, there is no longer a single creator who facilitates the exchange of ideas from one human to another (13), but rather a collective exchange of information. There is no longer boundaries between audiences around the globe; they can all unite in one virtual space and live this new media experience together. Therefore, communication and the sharing of knowledge has increased infinitely because of the computer and its accessibility.

Moreover, the authors mention how the computer era has helped build better communication and new relationships between humans. I find this affirmation as being less and less true nowadays. Of course, the computer is quite useful when it comes to communicating from one individual to another that is far away. This technological era helps to maintain links and relationships that would have been difficult to maintain otherwise. However, I find that this accessibility to everyone around the globe in just a click has some counter effects; with the recent arrival of Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networks, people rely only on these means of communication. People do not meet and talk like they used to; they chatt through virtual spaces and express feelings through emoticons. In this case, it does not enhance human relationships like the authors of the text would have wanted, but rather destroys them. Thus, the computer has come to dehumanize relationships, making them real as long as they are on the Web.

Also, the authors mention the value of stocking information on the computer, and how it enhances the memory embedded in human intelligence. Of course, this massive stocking of information has its merits: it makes a large body of information available to others in a fraction of the time that it used to take us, thus creating a large network like the World Wide Web. However, on a smaller scale, this habit of stocking everything on a computer has resulted in a lesser use of our own intellectual memory. The use of real address books to memorize addresses and phone numbers for example has almost become obsolete. Humans now depend on technology for remembering basic information that used to come naturally.

In short, the computer has not become exactly as glorious as the authors would have wanted it to be fourteen years ago. In fact, it is true that technology has always helped human expression and creativity, creating links between people that would not have existed without the arrival of the computer. It is now possible to contribute to a much larger network of information and take part in this global sharing of knowledge. On the downside though, the computer has made humans completely dependant to technology, meaning that we cannot seem to get enough of this powerful and new means of accessing massive amounts of information at once.

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