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Digital Culture 101

    What is digital culture?

    I was asked in January to give a talk to a class of students who had spent the term studying Cultural Diversity.  While you won’t be able to enjoy the excitement of actually being there – touching a old ‘brick’ mobile phone or marvelling at the super presentation graphics – the subject of Digital Culture is interesting enough that I thought I should share the talking points as this month’s blog post. I’m just dusting the surface of course. You can take a course on Digital Culture that lasts two semesters if you were keen. Of course this post means you don’t have to sit the exam.

    What is Digital Culture? Internet, mobile, computer culture …

    Culture is … a set of values, norms, practices, and expectations shared (and constantly renegotiated) of a group of people

    You could add “Digital” to any of these terms to begin a relevant discussion:
    Divides and Access – social, political, and infrastructure
    Privacy, and Surveillance
    Politics, Subversion and Warfare
    Problems of Community – Space, Relationships, Networks
    Law, Ethics
    Collectivism versus individualism
    Femininity versus masculinity
    Uncertainty avoidance
    Long- versus short-term orientation

    Digital Culture

    roots in both online and offline phenomena
    links to trends and developments predating the World Wide Web
    yet with an impact on how we are connected today

    Our Behaviors and expectations in digital environments are not new

    phenomena did not jump into being the moment the first computer went online
    Components are pervasive and historical
    History does not repeat itself BUT it very often rhymes

    Available technologies enable almost anyone to capture and share content
    Humans have always captured and shared content
    How we learn and communicate
    Capturing and sharing through digital technology is different

    The sharing of digital media is different in 3 ways:

    We are active agents in the process of meaning-making (we become participants)
    We adopt and modify, manipulate, and reform ways of understanding reality (we engage in remediation)
    We reflexively create our own particular versions of that reality (we are bricoleurs)


    The ever-growing influence that mobile devices, media and communication have on our day-to-day activities.


    the various social phenomena associated with the Internet and other new forms of the network communication.


    the culture that has emerged, or is emerging, from the use of computer networks for communication, entertainment, and business.

    Changes in Technology

    Print. Cinema. Radio. TV. Computers. Internet. Mobile.
    Mobile brings all these technologies together. And we carry that with us.

    The internet is frigging HUGE.  How much information are we talking about?

    1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes (zettabyte) Sextillion bytes. About 667 trillion films.

    How we communicate, work, play, shop … digital is changing it all.

    Smartphones passed PC shipments in Q4 2011.
    Almost 6 years ago.
    Facebook reported more access from mobile devices than desktop devices at the beginning of 2014.
    The mobile moment has already happened.

    There are more phones sold every day than there are babies born.

    5.5 billion people. 14.5 billion mobile phones. 2.5 billion smart phones.
    We spend 7.5 hours a day looking at screens.

    147 minutes TV
    103 minutes laptops/desktops
    43 minutes tablets
    A whopping 151 minutes on mobile phones.
    Smartphone apps = 60% of time spent online and facebook accounts for 15-20% of that.
    In addition about 1 billion hours of online videos are watched each day. 50% of that traffice comes from smartphones.

    For the time you spend on social media (about 600 hours) each year you could read about 200 books (about 500 hours).

    **UPDATE: Today we consume five times more information every day than we did in 1986, an incredible amount that’s equivalent to a 174 newspapers…a day. That probably includes a lot of Instagram posts, but it’s not only social media. The corporate e-learning space has grown by nine times over the last 16 years, such that almost 80% of U.S. companies offer online training for their employees, making more information accessible to them than ever before.**


    Are we Individualists of Collectivists?
    Is our society Monochronic or Polychronic?
    Do we live in a High Context or a Low Context society?
    Where are the connections?
    Where are the bubbles?

    We say we are unique, but how we are interconnected makes us actually the same.

    We used to call Fake News propaganda, tabloid, or yellow journalism …

    Everything you like, share, believe is interconnected …
    tracking pixels, cookies, machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data
    ad placement, native advertising, content marketing …

    A New Collectivism

    Your likes, friend’s likes etc create the content you see
    You create a bubble of information that reinforces a connection and a disconnection between people …

    Media Influences

    depending on your information bubble and reinforced via your peers
    how many people do you know who think differently?

    Rage Against the Machine

    socialising into this new culture not yet complete
    and so you have disturbances just like in the agricultural revolution, industrial revolution, information/telco revolution

    What is … Real?

    What is real? How do you define ‘real’?
    If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell,
    what you can taste and see, then ‘real’
    is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain …

    What is … Fake?

    Real news declines > trust in media dwindles
    print decreases > disinformation, distraction increases
    acceptance and reinforcement > education becomes more important
    assumptions, expectations, validation, relevance …

    “Anyone can dredge up a pattern out of data … “
    Making sense of Big Data and avoiding the bullshit

    The first IBM computer in general business use in 1960 was the IBM 7030.
    For a GFLOP of computing power in 1960 you would have required 2400 of them.
    Today a samsung Galaxy has 142 GFLOPS of processing power.
    1960|$8 trillion < —–price of a GFLOP—– > $0.08|2015

    What does the Future hold? 2 things.

    The internet of everything
    Cars | Body | Food | Money | Zero UI

    A new cultural divide: man vs computer
    1.8 years : computers become 2x faster.
    in 10 years: 32x faster
    how much faster, better, smarter, will you be in 10 years?

    ——————— Update May 10, 2019

    ——————— Update February 10, 2019

    ———————- Update January 9, 2018 
    The computing power of a PS3 is that of Red (the supercomputer). Red was the size of a tennis court, and cost 55 million dollars. Ten years later … 1.8 teraflops easily fits beneath the Christmas tree.

    Thank you for Being Late – Thomas Friedman

    How It Became Normal to Ignore Texts and Emails