Saturday, January 24, 2015

Culture and Digital Media

Henry Jenkins has written
extensively about the impact
of digital media on cultures 
Some students have expressed confusion about what they are expected to do in this course. The answer is that we/you are examining how cultures and digital media "converge" and shape our perceptions of different peoples and their cultures. In short, how do new media technologies represent us and "them".

For instance, in week one, we looked at digital media as argument by analyzing the ways in which one music and video grabs our attention to make a statement, or argument.  We asked questions such as What was the message in the music video "Stand By Me"?  How did Mark Johnson combine all of the W.O.V.E.N. elements to convey that message? What are our reactions, and why was the video appropriate for audiences around the world. This is called a rhetorical analysis (analyzing the audience, purpose, and message of an artifact or text).

Moving on to week two, we focused on culture and the ways different cultures relate. This is part of a study on cultural relativism, the view that all cultures are right (or at least none are wrong) and the actions of any culture are justified as being appropriate because that is "Their" culture. However, we also looked at why that may not be entirely true or always appropriate. For instance, when a culture engages in activities that are harmful to one segment, is that right?

This raises other interesting questions. What is the line between being culturally appropriate and violating a person's human rights. Who has power in a culture. How does power relate to culture. Why is culture not neutral? Who determines culture?

Now, this week, you are participating in a workshop on the Akha people who were introduced to digital media as a way of spreading or maintaining their culture across a broad geographical territory that spanned five countries. The idea behind the project was to "converge" digital media with local culture to preserve the Akha culture and language. The big question behind the project (and your reflection) is how did this work out for the Akha people. Was the project successful?  Did it truly allow the Akha people to maintain their culture? What was/is the after effect.

This next week, we will examine the role of human rights in providing guidelines to answering some of these questions.

1 comment:

Marchelle Swain said...

Mrs. Harris this really helped me get a better understanding of what we have been doing so far in the course because i was a bit confused. I was not sure of what we were actually doing, a part of the reason probably because i missed the first day of your class because i registered late. I understand more of it now though. English classes are something that i struggle with but this blog definitely help[ed me.Thank You. -Marchelle-