Week One: The Blurring of Boundaries between Human and Technology

The central theme of EDC Week One for me was the ‘blurring of boundaries.’  I think we witnessed together in our Togethertube Film Festival a collective sort of stimulating cognitive dissonance with each of the short films that we viewed, glimpses into the possibilities but also the risks of crossing the boundaries between human and technology. Simultaneously, we engaged each other across the world, blurring time and space, by interfacing with our digital technologies.  Miller notes that “boundary blurring” between machines and humans is particularly fundamental to the Science Fiction genre known as “cyberpunk.” (p. 207)

While ‘homo faber’ may have always had an intimate relationship with technology, stemming from a “wish or need to extend the boundaries of the body and to overcome its limitations in response to the surrounding environment” (Miller, p. 223),  the technician character “Steve” in Memory 2.0 forewarned of dangers of “over-exposure.”  Many of us now seem transfixed to our portable devices.  Miller (p. 221) notes the “somatic involvement” that mobile phones in particular “alter our sense of being in the world” and provide a sense of ‘connected presence’ (p. 221), or what Amber Case refers to as ‘ambient intimacy’ (e.g. always connected anywhere, anytime).

In sum, this strange new world portends to alter our ways of perceiving ourselves and our socio-material reality.  We all need a healthy dose of ‘digital education’ to know how to navigate across and between the boundaries of human and technology wisely.

Case, Amber. (Jan 2011) “We are all cyborgs now.” www.TedTalks.com.

Miller, V. (2011) Chapter 9. “The Body and Information Technology,” in Understanding Digital Culture. pp. 207-223, London: Sage.

We are all cyborgs now

I was introduced to this Amber Case TedTalk (7:53 min) in a previous MScDE course and I found it helpful to review it again as a departure point for this EDC course.  Case defines cyborg” as “an organism to which exogenous components have been added for the purpose of adapting to new environments.”  Case describes her as a “cyborg anthropologist.”

One of her themes that resonated with me this first week of our EDC course is that we all now are compelled to manage our ‘second self,’ that is, our ‘digital self.’  She observes that “anybody coming in new to technology is an adolescent online right now.” I have been thrust into sensations of what Case labels a “panic architecture” – a feeling that I can’t keep up because the tools are unfamiliar and my Twitter “embed codes are not available.”  I’m hoping this post will set me off on a more constructive trajectory.


Education and Digital Culture 2015 Course Lifestream Blog