“The term digital will be defined as all that which can be ultimately reduced to binary code but which produces a further proliferation of particularity and difference. The dialectic refers to the relationship between this growth in universality and particularity and the intrinsic connections between their positive and negative effects.” (Horst and Miller 2013, Introduction)
6 angles to understanding digital life (web version)
1. Digital intensifies the dialectical nature of culture.
2. Digital does not make human life more mediated.
3. Need holism to understand digital life.
4. Need cultural relativism as well.
5. “Authenticity of Ambivalence”
6. Materiality of the digital (technology, content, context).
What do Horst and Miller mean when they say that we have always been mediated? For one thing, culture shapes how we think about things (this idea is at the heart of structuralism). As people are socialized in a particular culture in childhood, meanings and relationships (through a variety of sources) become the way that we think about things. Second, we’ve long been embedded in another system of mediation (for lack of a better term, let’s call it capitalism), in the sense that everyday social life has been interpreted through the lens of ‘money’: “Money was always virtual to the degree that it extended the possibilities of abstraction” (Horst and Miller 2013, Introduction). Third, the Goffman idea, expressed best by Billy Joel.
“prosumption” – producers deliberately delegate creative work to consumers and designers have little choice but to follow trends created in consumption (Horst and Miller 2013, Introduction)