Digital Cultures - Digital Diversity
This site is dedicated to the analysis of digital cultures, or cybercultures -- the social relationships that occur in the realm of new media like the Internet, video games, smartphones and other high tech tools.
This site also serves as the web companion to the book, Digitized Lives: Culture, Power and Social Change in the Internet Era.
Few doubt that new digital media, linked together as features of Web 2.0, are rapidly changing many aspects of the political, social, economic and cultural lives of millions of people around the world. But what those changes are and what their long-term impact will be are open questions.
Digital culture studies asks how new technologies reflect the wider social world offline, how they create new cultural interactions, and how those new interactions in turn reshape the real (non-virtual) world. Part of that work is showing that the distinction between life online and life offline, or virtual and real life is a false dichotomy; the two are now deeply intertwined for well over 1 billion people on the planet.
This site is especially interested in issues of digital diversity. Digital diversity is at once a fact and an unrealized promise. The Internet is a vast web of words, images and sounds made by millions of people all around the globe that certainly reflects a diverse range of cultures and ideas.
On the other hand, data shows that there are vast inequalities of access to these new media, both within and between countries. These inequalities, often referred to by the short-hand term, the "digital divide," involve both questions of access (who is online) and representation (what is online and how truly does it reflect the diverse cultures of the world).
The gap between those who enjoy the benefits of new communications technologies and those who do not is a major societal concern. New media technology have the potential, as yet mostly unrealized, to assist people facing economic inequality, discrimination and cultural misrepresentation.
This site presents a wide array of efforts to overcome digital divides, in the arts, via community technology projects, through digital humanities and social science scholarship, and more.
Online articles and useful web sites, as well as a bibliography of offline resources, are provided that address a range of forms (like video games or social networking sites) and issues (like cyber-censorship or racism). While the site stresses the cultural dimensions of digital inequalities, the best cybercultural studies work presented here recognizes that cultural forces are always entangled with political and economic forces.