Re: Netculture and communication

I G Mohamed (
5 Nov 1995 10:17:51 GMT

> networks are increasingly
>bringing people of various cultures together in a much more
>intimate and grassroots manner.

Not quite true. Computer networks bridge geographic barriers and link
people of similar subcultures. I share more in common with e-mail
correspondents on the Net than I do with the homeless on my street, the
old lady who lives upstairs, the caretaker of my condo... NetCulture, as
you realize, is a cultural entity in its own right, with its own norms,
taboos, belief system, artifacts, and history. Though networks bridge
far-flung individuals, it strengthens ties between techno-haves while
excluding techno-have-nots. This is not wrong, it is simply true.

> There are critics who claim this global culture, or mass
>culture is snuffing out individual differences for a pre-packaged
>culture. These critics call for the isolation of communities from
>each other so that the uniqueness can be preserved. This criticism
>misses that human culture is a dynamic element of society, and
>freezing it would produce a museum of human society.

I disagree with this criticism of isolationism. If one looks to the
natural world for a model of what happens to isolated communities, one
soon realizes that such isolation promotes rapid evolution rather than
stagnant population. The same is true of language when groups of people
are isolated. One would not produce a "museum of human society"; rather,
an explosive diversification of culture would result.

But cultural diversity is not an end in itself. Throughout history, man
has exhibited a trend toward homogenization of cultures. First through
patterns of settlement, then through increasing technological dependence,
then through development of remote communication technology, we have
steadily increased our interaction with one another. As long as our
freedoms of expression and choice aren't compromised, such homogenization
is liberating, not constraining.

Michael, perhaps I am too familiar with the issues you explore. In all
honesty, some of the arguments you make are self-evident. I was
impressed with your use of classic anthropologic opinion to support your
thesis about contemporary culture, however.

I guess the bottom-line is that you should tailor your paper to its
target audience. A Net savvy audience might find that your paper
supplies too much background information, but appreciate your
novel sociologic approach. The converse may be true of a more
anthropologically savvy audience.

Best of luck,