The end of the year is coming to a close, hell, who knows if even the much talked about Mayan apocalyptic end could be upon us (as even Australia’s Prime Minister is warning us about):
But whether we are invaded by flesh eating zombies or whether we are allowed to continue to web our insignificant microcosmic lives in this infinite universe, if I were to find a word that marked 2012 for me, I would borrow the expression “Epic change” from fellow blogger Tim Rayner.
Having started Digital cultures and translation this year has dragged me into the vortex of digital global communications and into a speedy and steady flow of digital conversations, causes, actions, petitions, exchanges, advocacy, praise and complaint… a vortex that engulfs everything you do because whatever it is you are thinking or reading or writing, you want to share it, comment it, like it or dislike it, post it, tweet it, pin it, learn it, tumblr it… you name it – you just want others to be part of what you are thinking, whether it is with an image, a video, a haiku (Yepirate being the best at that!), a tender poem (like Subhan Zein’s), an amazing animation (Nonoymanga) or a full-fledged, brilliantly written and extremely informative articles like those by Storiesbywilliam’s.
Exchanging conversations with the great pirate of the Laplands about all things ‘independence’ or with fellow translators from Russia, Italy, China about the future of this profession now more and more threatened by low Internet job rates and technological advancements that tend to replace at least some of the translator’s previous tasks, I have come to think about the existence of a global cultural identity, a virtual place where a catalan born Australian resident talks about Scottish independence with a Finish “pirate’ while exchanging sci-fi best moments with a prolific writer from the US. A space where time and place are irrelevant, where political boundaries are non-existent. An egalitarian space open to everyone.
Yes, very nice, very romantic, very utopian.
But can we really say we have we accomplished this somewhat superior stage in global cultural identity?
Hang on, let’s rewind.
Here I am, talking about a Global Cultural identity when elsewhere in this very same blog I refused to commit to even a definition of culture. In the concluding remarks of that same article I wondered:
1. Is it possible to have the endless number of conceptualisations of the world that each and everyone one of us create justly represented in today’s digital world [in order to then create an ensemble of world representations called perhaps, ‘global culture]?
2. Is it our responsibility to make a concerted effort to ensure that cultural/personal/generational/gender/etc diversity is fairly represented on the net or,the endless number of conceptualisations of the world that each and everyone one of us create justly represented in today’s digital world [in order to then create an ensemble of world representations called perhaps, ‘global culture]?
3. Should we take this unique chance to move towards a universalised digital world?
I’ve had more than six months since I started DGAT to think about these issues and at this stage I think my answers will have to be:
Yes – Yes – No.
Yes, I think there is now and endless and ever growing number of conceptualisations of the world imprinted in the net – your blog, your poem, your image, your song, your haiku, your critique, your petition, each and every form of expression says something about the way each one of us mirrors our reality. Every single one of those representations are a unique, inimitable sliver of our history that merges with endless others to form a morphing global entity we could call “global digital culture”.
The concept I have in mind, however, differs from (in fact, it is antagonistic to) some of the meanings assigned to global or mass culture by the media – the homogenised, westernised consummer imperialistic culture that dominates in malls around the world.
My understanding of Global Digital Culture resembles Roland Robertson’s Symmetrical Global Gemeinschaft 2 – a microcosm of ordered equal communities and individuals with considerable sociocultural exchange among them. In this construct, global order rests on a globe-wide collective conscience where humankind is the pivotal ingredient of the world as a whole. The dangers of mass consumer globalisation are here to be overcome by a commitment to the communal unity of the human species. Universalism and particularism intertwined become both a basic feature of our global digital world. This entity is committed to a world system of societies that constitutes the major unavoidable dimension of the contemporary global human condition much like recent peace and environmental movements or even romantic Marxism have done.
So, to answer question number one, YES, I do believe it is possible to have an endless number of conceptualisations of the world represented on the net, in fact, I believe that is what’s happening as we speak. We are creating a timeless, egalitarian space source of curated knowledge and representation of historical opinions for our future generations. This space is at once universal and personalised and generally reactionary.
And, to answer my own question number two, it sure is our responsibility to encourage diversity in this universal sub-culture when we are facing such a daunting extermination of traditional practices everywhere. David Rieff, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute says:
“We are stuck with the global culture, just as we are stuck with world capitalism. Like the latter, the former will be more or less successful in different parts of the world. […] Those who yearn for authenticity, for the preservation or restoration of the traditional, will not prevail because of the brute fact that traditional societies – of which traditional culture is a product – cannot support their populations in a period of rapid increases in the world population.”
I believe we have an obligation to use what’s been given to us to use it as an antidote to the negative effects of globalisation everwhere, speak for those that cannot speak on their own, share the knowledge that should not be the privilege of just a wealthy elite and promote causes that are worth promoting. So far, we are doing a pretty good job of it:
Let’s enter 2013 doing what we do best, improving on it and encouraging others to contribute to this community, always retaining our virtual/real identity, never (and here comes the answer to my third and last question) aiming to lose it by creating an amorphous entity that gobbles up our personal DNA.