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Alejandro Knoepffler

MCM230: Assignment 3

Post-Digital Memory

Looking back, I think the topic that I was trying to take a stab at in this post was “how is digital media disseminated?” In this course, we have discussed means of communication and distribution of digital commodities and networked ideas, but something that I have felt distanced from is the disconnect between the creation and dissemination of digital media, and how it affects my relationship with the digital. I tried to link the creation and the ease of spreading digital media to stereotypes, but I now think it goes a lot deeper than that, and after reading Cramer’s “What is Post-Digital,” Nakamura’s “Digital Circuits” sprung back into my mind. I feel that the argument on what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget is so important in analyzing what is Post-Digital. In both the creation and the dissemination of Post-Digital material, what we choose to remember and forget plays an important part in our shaping of culture. I feel that Post-Digital means the digitalization of memory.

With the digitalization of memory, what we chose to remember is critical in shaping our world view and our actions. I feel that Cramer refers to “transportation” (Cramer, 700) as the defining factor and the grace of digital/ new platforms. This ease of transportation of ideas and media allows us to do so much, without even having the time to process it in our mind. For example, I could just send an e-mail without having to move the comfort of my bed, and the lack of physical contact and transportation of my body can be easily forgotten, and transformed into the much quicker transportation of my message to its recipient. We can remember the dangers of new media, but so easily forget them. Cramer explains that “after Edward Snowden’s disclosures of the NSA’s all-pervasive digital surveillance systems, this disenchantment has quickly grown from a niche ‘hipster’ phenomenon to a mainstream position” (Cramer, 701). When we choose to remember that we can be easily tracked and that all our data is being stored without our explicit consent, we choose to take action, change the way we act on the internet and change our business models. On the other hand, I feel that a lot of the return to analog in Cramer’s chapter stems from an understanding of old hardware that forgets the limitations and remembers the creation process. People are posting pictures of polaroid photos taken with an iPhone on Facebook. I find that there’s a disjoint here in the creation and the dissemination of this item that remembers the process of taking a polaroid, but doesn’t honor that sort of indexical and personal nature of a single existing photo. The memory that is digitalized when it is uploaded to Facebook, is one that chooses to harken back to the past but forgets dangers of transporting this image into the digital.

We can even more easily forget in the Post-Digital, and I feel that so much fear stems from invisibility. We have so many and such advanced means of communication in the United States that we can create “fictions of agency” (Cramer, 710) to create false power of knowledge over a body of data. We can assume things about the digitalized objects, such as data is post-racial, unbiased and sterile that can be detrimental to outcomes and conclusions. We need to be careful because in the digitalized world, we can be swayed by marketing and companies into thinking what they want us to. The “Intel Inside” campaign proved that a corporation could change our knowledge and memory of their product by gaining our trust trough commercials featuring clean, bunny people. However, Nakamura is very eye-opening and points out that if we actually look inside of Intel, “instead we see Asian women, Latinas, and Navajo women and other women of color. Looking inside digital culture means both looking back in time to the roots of the computing industry and the specific material production practices that positioned race and gender as commodities in electronics factories.” (Nakamura, 937). These roots can be so easily forgotten either for our comfort or our convenience, that our memory can become falsely conclusive. These “fictions of agency” can shape our memory and reframe our human history.

I believe that the Post-Digital expands from digitalization of data and media to the digitalization of human memory. This digitalization of memory is allows for so many instances of remembering or forgetting in the creation and dissemination of digital media. These dangers can include forgetting a loss of rights of distribution of your own personal data, or the invisibility of race and gender as labor commodities. Information and data thought history is incomplete, but we need to realize the ease that someone can control our perception of visible information in this day and age.

wallespace

The analog and Cramer’s “blue” digital in harmony, from Disney Pixar’s “Wall-E” (2008).

Appendix

Original Post:

“How do we get to know digital media? How do we explore a space and a technology that is new to us? The extension of stereotypes seems to be how we approach a new space.

When the cinema first premiered, Commedia Del’Arte was something that was depicted so that the audience could grasp onto something. Commedia Del’Arte consisted of archetypes/ stock characters such as Colombina (a flirtatious, singing maid), and Arlecchino (a bouncy, tickle clown) which can be set up in different ways. Think of it as a puppet show with recognizable characters. The story could be changed, but the characters stay the same, thus keeping the spectacle recognizable and fun for the audience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D3zwJbDn1M

Nakamura talks about how the Navajo women worked on the early computer chips and how the chips strike a resemblance to the traditional tapestries. The women were getting paid well, and had good working conditions, and were allowed to express their creativity, but I can’t help but feel that this notion that a group of people are “good at something” could be very wrong.

For example, in the video we watched in lecture on Monday, the only workers depicted were Asian. Is this so that people feel safe or are able to rely on Asian people because they think that Asians are good at being precise and technical?

Apple’s design video for their new macbook features a Jonathan Ive’s British accent. He is the VP of Design, but was this an aesthetic choice? Does the British accent carry some kind of power play? I think that perhaps people are more inclined to listen to a British accent because it could seem more trusting, knowledgeable, etc.”

Nakamura, Lisa, Indigenous Circuits. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, p. 919-994, Digital Article.

Cramer, Florian, What is Post-Digital, Np: Np, p. 699-712, Digital File.