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I wanted to crystallize some concluding thoughts about the semester by discussing our last reading on the post-digital.  Or perhaps I want to pry open the discussion to get better answers.

What intrigued me the most about Cramer’s discussion were the multiple vectors of influence he ascribed to the post-digital illustrated by his description of meme’s: “Other important characteristics of imageboard memes are: creation by users, disregard of intellectual property, viral dissemination among users, and potentially infinite repurposing and variation (through collage or by changing the text).”  Post-digital is amorphous; it is a concept contoured by every system it attempts to subvert, every classical distinction which it repurposes with rebellious intent.  Cramer did a great job at illustrating the conceptual rift that exists between the digital and post-digital and how rarely this disjunction is registered by contemporary audiences and by negatively defining post-digital, he opened up new frameworks for understanding the practical possibilities of its implementation.

Within Cramer’s framework of the digital, one could surmise all the possible deficits our current, fanatical understanding of new media suffers from and why its study has produced only illusory solutions for real-world problems.  That’s because we’ve entered a realm where the virtual and the concrete are tenable, and even more complex when we try to sum up our individual value by the increments appropriate to the digital.

If Cramer is right and the “‘Digital’ simply means that something is divided into discrete, countable units – countable using whatever system one chooses”, under this condition of distinct counting, social renovation becomes difficult, adhering to the same fraught systems which undermine individual agency and large-scale change.  Further, if we take Cramer’s definition of digital information as “an idealised abstraction of physical matter which, by its material nature and the laws of physics, has chaotic properties and often ambiguous states”, any sociologist, student, or citizen could see how the stringent framework of the digital would be an ill fit for the complex cultural architectures constructing everyday living.  So how does one implement real change?  Is it really through DIY crafts?; or is it through choosing the right medium for the message, on never favoring the hich-tech for its fidelity but for its aptness of the situation?  And further, how can we apply this tech worldview to social practice?

While I struggled all semester to answer this question, our last lecture clued me in to the secret of the course: this searing enlightenment is not meant to provide answers, but to bring the hidden structures of power and social control into sharp relief, where one can critically examine and proceed with an educated awareness.  After reading about everything that the post-digital is not, perhaps critical digital media studies are more about building a reflexive skepticism towards visceral revolutionary thought and to prod into the future with informed hesitation.  That technological disruption does not signal change, but a new network of possibilities that must be approached with the patient caution of Cramer’s paranoia: that “the post-digital condition is a post-apocalyptic one: the state of affairs after the initial upheaval caused by the computerisation and global digital networking of communication, technical infrastructures, markets and geopolitics.”

And as for this last quote, well I’m still working on its interpretation.

“Each of these fictions of agency represents one extreme in how individuals relate to the techno-political and economic realities of our time: either over-identification with systems, or rejection of these same systems. Each of these extremes is, in its own way, symptomatic of a systems crisis – not a crisis of this or that system, but rather a crisis of the very paradigm of ‘system’”