From Technotopia to Cybertribes

The recent developments in new media tools promise to improve our personal access to information management and our personalized abilities concerning i-communication. Rather than focusing on the practical implications of this evolution, I take a step back and address two underlying cultural phenomena in order to get a grip on the contemporary significance of ‘new media’. The first phenomenon (technotopia) concerns the place technology occupies in our psychological perception. ‘Technology’ is a concept on the move. In post-war culture, technology stands for industrialization and mechanization. It is often associated withan external power, like capitalism (consumerism), military force (WW II, Cold War warfare) or ideology (the race for space travel, biotechnoscience). In post-wall culture, technology increasingly stands for new media and digital user-oriented innovations. The threat or fascination with respect to an external authority is replaced by a democratization of technology. New media constantly remediates our relation to the world, hence becoming immanent and ubiquitous. The second phenomenon (Cybertribes) concerns the function of new media in our society. From an anthropological point of view, it is worthwhile to conceive new media as acontemporary ‘totem’ that structures communities. Unlike ‘myths’ or ‘gods’, ‘totems’ are ideological organization principles that are conceptually ambiguous, heterogeneous, open and incomplete. Hence, it can fulfill plurality of functions. For instance, it intensively shapes our daily interaction, it allows for aspiration and identification (cf. Cyborg-mania, avatars in Second Life). Moreover, it is a device to express and revolt (cf. Hacktivism, Etoy‐war, Marx 2.0)
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Contemporary Philosophy
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DOI wcp22200848205
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