We hear the term “digital culture” everyday. Usually it is used with a negative connotation, describing a counter-revolution to traditional media delivery and consumption and the death of reading and writing as we know it. But what does the expression really mean and what is our place in this so-called “culture”?
Let me start by outlining what it is not. Digital culture is not the same as being digitally cultured. There is no doubt, our children are growing up more exposed to digital devices than ever before and at an ever earlier age. My children were born before the smartphone/tablet revolution, so it always intrigues me when I see toddlers out with their parents at restaurants with smartphone or tablet in hand. They have replaced books and plastic keys as the distraction devices of the new millennium. And from what I have observed, the practice is almost universal. In fact, just yesterday at the supermarket, a four year old was being pushed around in a trolley playing on his tablet allowing his mother the time to shop. I pass no judgement on this practice other than to use it as an example of children becoming more and more familiar with the use of digital devices, in other words becoming digitally cultured. You can read more about the possible impacts in this UK Telegraph article .
The concept of digitally cultured therefore connotes an ever increasing computerization and digitizatilation of society. It is as a result, that digital culture emerges. In his article, Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of Digital Culture, Mark Deuze notes the main components of a digital culture as:
- Participation – we have all become active agents in the content creation process
- Remediation – we build on, modify, amplify and recreate what has come before
- Bricolage – we assemble and disseminate our version of reality
Whilst to Deuze, this may not be quite so radical as it sounds, to some of us it is a huge change in the way we relate to and engage with news and information. We may never have written a letter to a newspaper editor, done a stint on community radio or complained to the Publications and Media Ombudsmen in the past, but we are now blogging, tweeting and linking. Web 2.0 has brought us an easy and low cost way to do it all. And this not only impacts journalism and the way we consume news, but also impacts on product development, marketing, public relations, corporate communication and many other sectors of the economy.
Let’s have a closer look at blogging and see how that fits in with Deuze’s three components.
Examples of news and political blogs abound in the Australian context. In late 2011, Greg Jericho, the author of the Rise of the Fifth Estate and pro blogger at Grog’s Gamut, compiled this list of Australian political blogs. The 2013 winner of the Best Australian Blogs competition in the commentary section was AusVotes 2013, a compilation blog. Clearly, Australians who are not journalists are participating in political commentary by running and contributing to blogs. However, far from replacing traditional media sources, they act as a supplement to it. Would these bloggers or blogs have survived this long if traditional media sources were giving the public all they want in news delivery? They lend another voice to the debate, sometimes that voice is objective, sometimes not, sometimes that voice is in pursuit of a personal agenda, sometimes not. An Internet connection, a point of view and some very basic technical skill is all that participation requires.
According to Deuze, remediation:
does not necessarily mean different from or in radical opposition to, the mainstream or dominant ways of doing things, but rather an expression of a distinctly private enactment of human agency in the omnipresent computer-mediated reality.
What this means is that blogs sit alongside traditional media where public journalism is still practiced in corporate news groups. Blogs however rely more on Netiquette or a loose consesual way of reader and producer interaction whilst still building on notions of quality journalistic practice, such as credibility and legitimacy. They often address the experiences of people in a more meaningful way, taking the news story and targeting its relevance towards readers rather than to a demographic.
And finally, bricolage. This refers to the act of creating something new out of what is existing. Think remix, think tweaking and reassembly. Because of Netiquette, bloggers understand the interconnectivity of the world in which they operate. Linking to mainstream media stories, other blogs and refashioning blog posts to apply across different sites and platforms so as to reach different audiences are all part of the blogger’s tool box. Bloggers of value always however add their own opinions and analysis and as such appear to be talking to us.
Every time we post a blog, pass a comment on a new item, take a story and post a link to it whilst adding our own viewpoints we are engaging in digital culture. Every time we follow a Titter news feed, retweet, video an event and upload a YouTube video or add to a Wiki we shape digital culture. It is all about YOU and it is all about ME.
Digital culture gives us the freedom to create and publish, but requires us to live up to the responsibility of being discerning and ethical readers. It is indeed a brave, new world.
In what ways do you participate in digital culture? Are you a blogger? Do you prefer other ways of participation, such as microblogging on Twitter or news dissemination on Facebook?
Reblogged this on Raising the Curtain and commented:
As some of you know, I’m back at Uni doing a Masters in Law, Media and Jounalism. One of my courses this session requires me to run a blog relating to online and mobile media. I therefore unveil my new student blog, Social From The Middle and my very first post. My first post is all about You, so come a long and join in the conversation, Would love to have your comments and feedback.
Warning, this blog is produced from my non-reptillian brain, under no circumstances will it contain any humour whatsover… well maybe just a wee bit, enough for survival. Isn’t that what the repitllian brain is all about?
Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to come over, read and drop a like or a comment. It is totally unexpected and I was just putting it out there to let you all know I hadn’t disappeared. The blogosphere never ceases to amaze and support.
I’m all for the innovation, but I worry how easily people accept what they read online as truth. As you point out, we need to be discerning readers, maybe more so than ever before.
Good luck with your new blog and your master’s. It’s always an experience to go back to school when we’re older–as I did not so long ago. But I loved every minute of it!
Love being back at school, it is such a stimulating and enriching environment.
And you’re right, we need to think a whole lot more before blindly accepting what’s written on the Net. Although if you think about, it’s what we do in our daily lives – size up the source before acting on advice/information.
Excellent start of your new blog! I think that the fact that your studies require you to run a blog says a lot already about today’s digital culture. Also want to share this source with you, you may find it interesting: http://monoskop.org/log/ . Here you find lots of reading on media technology from different perspectives (and indeed, readers can suggest new resources to be added, making it another example of how we are all potential co-producers). I look forward to be following your new blog, good luck with your studies!
Thanks for the link, I will definitely check it out. I think the assignment for this course fits perfectly with its objectives and teachings. I mean, it’s one thing to read about social media and digital culture and quite another to actually apply the knowledge. It’s an area rich in multiple perspectives and the great thing is age really is no barrier to participation.
Blogging – guilty as charged your honour. FB – only to catch up when friends are away usually. Twitter – yes on – but never use. I love you non reptilian brain – stand tall with your new blog – as I said I babble – you have constructive and informative posts. xx
I hereby sentence you to another 550 posts. Thanks for the wonderful comment, I think sometimes my non-reptillian brain needs more of an out of the workplace work out 😉
As I read this I agree but it’s too early in the morning for me to dive in with any comments of use today. Congrats on going back to school.
Hi Tess and thanks for the comment. Hope you had a great Sunday. Loving being back at school and absolutely open to running with and participating fully in digital culture.
I like Carrie Rubin’s comment that some people easily except stuff online as the truth. There are so many innocent and healthy sounding blogs that are all about propaganda and not the truth. Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness” which is so profound. Everyone can find the version of the truth that fits their beliefs. It truly takes an effort to confirm reputable sources and ignore those that are not.
Here in America, industries like the fossil fuel and gun making industries, have the best public relations engines money can buy. The former has a PR firm whose purpose dating back to the 1990s was to create a debate around global warming and now they are doing the same to avoid scrutiny over the dangers of fracking. The gun industry has done something similar that the only way to reduce gun crimes is more guns. I often go outside the US for data sources that make comparisons among countries. It helps disarm people when I show how we rank. But, it is hard work to assure the veracity of sources. Thanks for the post, BTG
Pardon me. That should be easily “accept” not except. My bad. Thanks, BTG
You raise a good point about PR passing off as news. I think the PR spin in the area of politics has contributed towards the electorate’s cynicsm over and fatigue with it. We have to work that much harder to discern the policies and substance from the spin and rhetoric. I’m not sure whether this is a real PR/spin revolution, though. I think it has always been there, but as we move into the realm of personalty politics, its taken more of a central role.
As you note, I think it has been there, but now it moves so quickly. In America we often get more infatuated with the game of politics than the issues. Will this stance hurt or harm the candidate….Karl Rove was invited to speak at my son’s college. Karl Rove is the ultimate spin doctor and actually should have gone to jail like his subordinate did when they outed Valerie Plame, a CIA operative (he admitted later he knew as well). You may recall her husband (a former ambassador) had evidence that went against Bush’s weapons of mass destruction argument for invading Iraq. They discredited him and outed her, so that we could send Americans and our allies to die in Iraq for an unjust reason. Thanks for blogging again. I missed you, BTG
Currently I am not really participating in digital culture – I have taken a time off from social media. I am finishing my MSc program and I find reading and writing technical / scientific texts – and the immersion in lengthy texts in general – nearly mutually exclusive with “processing” the constant stream of posts and updates on social media.
It is not a matter of available time, but I feel I can either handle permanent distraction or deep immersion. Unfortunately “essayistic” blogging is also very different from technical writing – so I really needed some time to get “into” technical writing again.
I have – once again – turned into Nicholas Carr’s biggest fan.