Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is There Any Other Kind of Culture than Information Culture?

The news about pending legislation in France to require Apple iTunes proprietary technology to be uncoupled from the company's iPod player may remind some of last year's story about French resistance to the Google Print electronic archive initiative. In both cases, accusations were made that American cultural hegemony was being furthered at the same time that corporate technological monopolies were being strengthened.

Indeed, information culture now seems to dominate the French cultural agenda, probably rightly. For example, on today's homepage of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, a francophile can learn about video game designers being honored, watch a Flash film about copyright, or read policy statements about plans for the European digital library. How quaint the websites for the National Endowment for the Humanities or the National Endowment for the Arts look in comparison! The U.S. may be a powerhouse in the digital "culture industry," but our federal institutions still privilege print and live performance.

If even the French admit that what they largely mean by "culture" is "information culture," then Siva Vaidhyanathan's recent manifesto about the rising profile of Critical Information Studies in relation to Cultural Studies is a timely call to action to what essentially remains a fundamentally provincial academic community.

Then again, perhaps this French resistance can be dismissed as mere pique in response to the famed "French military victories" Google prank.

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Blogger Lupton said...

I read Siva's manifesto and was intrigued by the synthesis of empirical and conceptual paradigms. I was even more compelled by the promise that theory and practice -- research on and excercise of -- digital technologies, might go hand in hand. These hybrid projects may indeed remain "provincial" in relation to universities -- just as humanism in the Renaissance largely took place outside of the official centers of scholastic learning.

9:27 AM  

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