User:ThomasW/Notes DigitalCulture

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Gere, Charlie (2002) Digital Culture, London, Reaktion Books

"Gilles Deleuze points out, ‘the machine is always social before it is technical. There is always a social machine which selects or assigns the technical elements used." (Gere, 2002, Page 19)

"Cary continuesto suggest that this process of divorcing the receipt from the productcan be thought of as ‘part of a general process initiated by the use of money . . . the progressive divorce of the signifier from the signified,a process in which the world of signifiers progressively overwhelmsand moves independently of real material objects’." (Gere, 2002, Page 31)

"The new free-floating individuals were no longer subject to the old forms of power, and new decentralized techniques of control and discipline were needed. Michel Foucault writes of the power of examination and documentation as an essential part of the mechanisms of discipline. Subjects began to be defined by a "whole" series of codes of disciplinary individuality that made it possible to transcribe by means of homogenization the individual features by the examination’." (Gere, 2002, Page 40)

panoptic society described by Foucault. Within his system people are made visible as pieces of digital data. They are individuals, but their individuality is rationalized and normalized in a system of signs that also homogenizes them as a mass, and makes them interchangeable and manipulable as data. Widely adopted by insurance companies and railways, Hollerith’s machine is the first direct ancestor of the modern computer. (Gere, 2002, Page 44)

"Wells proposed what he called a Permanent World Encyclopaedia,involving the ‘collection, indexing, summarizing and release of knowledge’ by a ‘centralized world organ’ working on a ‘planetary scale’ to pull the mind of the world together’. Wells saw the technical means to realize this idea in the newly developing field of micro-photography. For him the capacity for endless reproduction and wide circulation afforded by photography was a ‘way to world peace that can be followed without any very grave risk of collision with the warring political forces and the vested interests of today’" (Gere, 2002, Page 46)

"By contrast Benjamin saw mechanical reproduction as a means of resistance, rather than unification. In his essay he suggested that the mechanical reproduction of works of art detaches them from the domain of tradition and enables them to be reactivated for different purposes. For Benjamin this meant art could stop being based in ritual and tradition and instead be based in politics, thus,in particular, enabling a de ritualized art to combat the fascist aestheticization of politics through the politicization of aesthetics." (Gere, 2002, Page 46)

"Wiener took the term Cybernetics from the ancient Greek kybernetikos, meaning ‘good at steering’ or ‘helmsman’." (Gere, 2002, Page 58)

"Sketchpad showed that the computer could be used as a visual medium. But it also introduced the idea of the virtual image or object, which have quasi-real existences. Sketchpad constituted the beginnings of, among other things, computer graphics and virtual reality.Sutherland went on to develop technologies specifically designed for virtual reality, including headsets." (Gere, 2002, Page 69)

"With IBM computing was a multinational business, the success of which was based on the highly organized and regimented structure of the company, reinforced by the IBM salesmen’s obligatory blue suits and white shirts, and their corporate song sheets to be sung at IBM summer camp. This almost Maoist model of collective corporate organization did not make IBM popular among some people working in computing. For those with radical political leanings IBM came to represent the exploitation of the idea of the computer as a tool of corporate control with military connotations." (Gere, 2002, Page 77)

"Lettristes. Perhaps more to the point, Isou was part of a more general French interest in signs and systems, which manifested itself in intellectual movements such as Structuralism.The Lettriste concentration on the letter also anticipated the post structuralist and deconstructionist focus on the materiality of the sign, as articulated by Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan and JacquesDerrida, which itself can be understood, in part at least, as are sponse to the dramatic developments in information and communication technologies." (Gere, 2002, Page 95)

Through number of books, most notably The Gutenberg Galaxy, Understanding Media, and The Medium is the Message,he explored how, the development of successive media alters human relations with the world. McLuhan was interested in the developments in media technology that altered the human relationship with the environment, regardless of the message any medium might convey, or, as he most famously put it, ‘the medium is the message.’ He was interested in the changing distributions in the ratio of the human senses,as in, for example, the shift from an aural to a visual culture that was concomitant with writing and, more emphatically, with printing. With the coming of electronic media such as television he saw a return to an oral paradigm and the emergence of what he famously called the ‘global village’, a world linked by electronic communications. (Gere, 2002, Page 101)

As a term Conceptual Art is used to refer to the disparate activities of numerous individuals and groups from all over the world, many of which could as well be, and of tenare, corralled under other labels, such as Minimalism, Land Art, Arte Povera, and Performance Art etc. Nevertheless the period around the end of the ’s did see many artists turning to language for the basis of their practice and away from a concern with the materiality of the artwork. The inspiration for this linguistic turncame from a number of sources, including Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades, the later philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and someof the post-war avant-garde artists and movements discussed above,such as John Cage, Fluxus and the Situationists. (Gere, 2002, Page 109)

"Marshall McLuhan once suggested that ‘art was a distant early warning system that can always tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it’." (Gere, 2002, Page 116)

Broadly speaking the counter-culture could be defined as a largely white phenomenon, among whose most notable characteristics were an interest in self-realization, often involving the use of drugs, LSD or ‘acid’ inparticular, a devotion to rock music and performance. (Gere, 2002, Page 122)

"One of the reasons that Cybernetics was so attractive to those involved with the ‘Whole Earth’ project was that it used ‘whole systems thinking’ as a framework in which to think about issues of ecology. Each of the Whole Earth catalogues started with a section called ‘Understanding Whole Systems’ which en framed the issues of ecology, bio systems and the economy in cybernetic terms. In the original catalogue the presiding genius who is used to introduce the ideas in this section isR(ichard) Buckminster Fuller, the maverick engineer, architect and theorist. Buckminster Fuller, who was notable for the development of the geodesic dome, a structure composed of geometric elements that can be built to any size, was also a poet and philosopher, whose unorthodox ideas about global issues, in particular his concept of‘Spaceship Earth’,were appealing to a generation becoming aware of ecological depredation." (Gere, 2002, Page 124)

"Xerox was becoming alarmed at the idea of the ‘paperless office’, the revolution in business life that computers were, apparently,about to bring about. To meet this challenge Xerox decided to become part of the computer revolution itself. To this end it set up Xerox PARC on the West Coast of the United States." (Gere, 2002, Page 134)

"The eventual result was the ‘Alto’, a new kind of computer, which,through the use of windows, a mouse, and a graphic interface, could be, at least in theory, used intuitively and easily by anyone. For a number of reasons to do with economics and perception of appropriate markets, Xerox marketed the Alto, and a later version of their ideas, the ‘Star’, as business machines and priced them accordingly." (Gere, 2002, Page 135)


A certain amount of hyperbole was generated about the CD-Rom in the early ’ as, for example, the ‘new papyrus’. This and other such rhetorical flourishes suggested that such technology represented an advance in information technology equal to, for example, the printed book,that publishers and media companies would be foolish to ignore.Accordingly in the early there was a boom of multimedia companies and multimedia departments within publishing and TV production companies. However, despite the hyperbole, the CDRom industry failed to take off as expected. (Gere, 2002, Page 142)

Cyborg theory’ by Donna Haraway, and latterly of Cyberfeminism. In music the possibilities of digital technology combined with the legacies of art school performance-oriented rock,disco and punk, produced ‘techno’ and its assorted variations. Punk was also one of the inspirations, along with ‘postmodern’ fiction, for the science fiction genre known as ‘Cyberpunk’. The technological potential unleashed by desktop publishing and graphics software, allied with the methodological potential offered by variously by Punk and French deconstructionist philosophy, produced a style of graphic design and typography known sometimes as ‘deconstructionist’ graphic design, and sometimes as ‘The New Typography’. Though obviously coming out of different contexts and circumstances, these developments all shared a fascination with contemporary technology and in both its utopian and dystopian possibilities, as well as its glamour. (Gere, 2002, Page 157)

Autonomists began to talk of the ‘mass intellectual’ or ‘diffused intellectual’ in order to discuss the proliferation of new subjectivities. ‘Mass intellectuals’ are those whose living labour consists in ‘creativity’ and ‘social communication’, also sometimes known as ‘immaterial labour’. The term covers many different kind of workers other than the traditional factory worker, including, for example, computer programmers, advertising copywriters, graphic designers, workers in roboticized factories, art workers and so on. Out of this situation Toni Negri developed an analysis of what he called the ‘prerequisites of communism’ immanent to post-Fordist capitalism. By this term Negri referred to those institutions and arrangements that emerge out of struggles and antagonism and continue to be developed by workers’ antagonism in the face of exploitation. (Gere, 2002, Page 166)

"The Macintosh had been designed with visual computing in mind, and enabled the development of much visual and graphic design software. Though the Macintosh did not determine the rise of deconstructionist graphic design, which, as we have seen,preceded it by some years, it did greatly enable it, and assured its rapid success as a style." (Gere, 2002, Page 174)

Though most people’s experience of computing is fairly mundane, it retains a counter-cultural aura as a liberatory technology, the use of which will advance humanity,much as LSD was supposed to in the s. This idea is still exploited by computer companies such as Apple and Microsoft as part of their publicity, with slogans such as ‘Think Different’ [sic] and ‘Where Shall We Go Today’. Paradoxically the counter-cultural legacy of technological utopianism has found new expression as part of a more general ideology of neo-liberal, libertarian, high-tech capitalism, whose most cogent expression is found in the magazine Wired. (Gere, 2002, Page 204)

"Anderson quotes Rupert Murdoch as claiming that‘young people don’t want to rely on a God-like figure from above to tell them what’s important. They want control over their media,instead of being controlled by it’." (Gere, 2002, Page 214)

In 2006, in response to such developments, the British broadsheet newspaper The Observer ran an investigative article about the future of television. It started with a description of how a future sixteen year old called Chloe will be watching television in the year 2016.8According to the article Chloe ‘keeps up with text and video messages by unrolling a paper-thin screen from wherever she is. A tiny camera beams images from her day to a video diary on her personal website, which interacts with those of her friends.’ It continues to describe how Chloe will watch television on demand in a world without CDs or DVDs, TV listings or TV schedules, but with websites geared specifically for teenage girls, with narrowcast content made by independent broadcast companies or even by other teenagers. This is already beginning to happen, with the ever-greateravailability of television content on the World Wide Web, not least through the BBC’s new iPlayer, which allows BBC programmes to be watched for a week afterwards, and even downloaded. It seems likely that broadcasting, as we currently understand the term, is in the process of being radically changed. (Gere, 2002, Page 218)