Monday, February 14, 2011

Brave New (Digital) World

There were some excellent reflections in the blogs regarding the week's readings from Nicolas Carr and Kevin Kelly. You really oughta read them if you haven't already. Many good comments about how technology shapes our literacy practices - and our thinking! The famous 20th-century American scholar Walter Ong, writing about the shift from orality to literacy, said, "Writing restructures consciousness." Many of our bloggers picked up on the ways new media are changing the way we think.

A Facebook friend of mine posted an update that is so revelatory of this shift. With her permission, I use it here:

Here is an example of digital social networking restructuring our expressions of emotion... Profound!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Boy Was My Face Rojo...

"The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass. If the case be otherwise, I beg his pardon and extend to him the cordial hand of fellowship and call him brother." - Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

If you have not yet reached the status Mr. Twain describes above, then you will - or you aren't really trying. I'd be interested to hear your humorous anecdote of a harmless faux pas, misstep, or slip-up that reveals the need for continual growth in our cultural understanding.

Why not just post your story below as a comment to this blog post? Feel free to link to your blog for more info, photos, etc. Sure, we may laugh at you, but in a most sympathetic way, because we've been there, are there, or will be there soon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Ethnographic Rubber Meets the Cross-Cultural Road

Members of our 2011 CLAM contingent are either now on the field across the globe, or are soon to depart for their fields of study. The student blogs will begin to be even more rich in critical cultural insights in teh coming weeks. The blogs to be posted in the next week will be an introspective self-portrait of the students' own cultural landscapes - as seen by outsiders. An informed and critical investigation of another culture requires a "de-familiarization" of one's own cultural identity in order to see new cultures apart from a limiting "terministic screen" of assumptions and biases.

I recommend here a video from Adaptive Path's 2010 UX Week. This talk by Anthropologist and Kansas State professor Michael Wesch is valuable for several reasons: his personal recounting of cultural immersion, his attention to the way the practice of writing (techne) shaped the culture of a pre-literate society, and his illustration of the dynamic nature of culture. You can learn a lot - for no extra charge - from this supplemental video!