The obscure clarity of digital culture14 Mars 2018
Views and ideas
The word “culture” evokes history, language, literature, knowledge, belief, art, customs, and so on. It evokes that complex whole acquired by an individual as a member of society as seen in our previous article.
The word “digital” brings to mind Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, codes, programs, software, sequencing, etc. That process that involves converting almost anything in our surroundings into binary calculations.
“Digital culture”: the term seems so obvious! And yet it has the ring of a paradox… Culture and number. Can the expression of the mind be quantified? Reduced to an equation?
After all, the digital is entitled to be called cultural, since it leads to new social practices (chat, social media, etc.), new habits (GPS, home automation, automated vehicles, etc.), new arts (digital art), and new ways of distributing information (online magazines, multimedia content, etc.).
More than tools, the entire digital environment is shaking up the way we interact, impacting the concepts of memory, sharing, otherness, property, language, freedom, and imagination. It is causing an inescapable cultural shift. Each technological innovation presents pleasant additions that always come with unplanned impacts, just as no drug comes without contraindications or side effects. Indeed, the scientific/technical processes designed to completely and uniformly manage and control our day-to-day affairs are a source of both enthusiasm and anxiety. It is a genuine cultural revolution that is generating a profound identity crisis in humans. Indeed, the first product of culture is identity.
An identity, a base of values that have been shaken up (work, freedom, authority, and so on) that push people out of their comfort zone. Many view innovation and progress with a defiant eye. They see robots or Artificial Intelligence as rivals, enemies that may end up replacing them.
An existential question is asked: what makes humans truly human? Wanting more, knowing more, understanding everything, controlling more things, making faster decisions? No. What makes humans human is their weakness, their vulnerability, their contradictions. The fact is that, while humans are capable of reasoning, our passions lead us astray. Fear crumbles our confidence and anger blurs our vision. As beings full of doubts, we at first want this but at the last second we choose that…
By nature, Man is an emotional being, and therefore a being of Relationships.
The digital world in which we are evolving is shattering our relationship with time and space. Everything is instant, ubiquitous, omniscient. We live in a world of connection, networks, flows. This is the Relationship logic. The verb “exist” has never been so close to its etymology: ex-stare, to stand outside oneself as you consider the other. The Relationship professions have a bright future ahead of them, as humans will always need other humans to exist.
Relieved of its servile tasks, a Relationship facilitated by the digital, augmented by the human.