During our first discussions of Module 1, we examined the challenges and opportunities of technology for Indigenous people. In the article Whither Psychoanalysis in Computer Culture? by Sherry Turkle (2004) she urges that there is a need to analyse what “technology does to us, our thinking and ways of looking at our minds and ourselves”. Throughout the article Turkle discusses the effects of computer culture and the changing relationships we have with technology. While reading the article I wondered if these changes were happening within all cultures or whether there were any particular cultures that would be beyond the reach of or would reject digital culture?
I thought that those cultures without internet access would be beyond the reach of digital culture, due to lack to exposure. However, I was wondering if there were any examples of cultures that had the means and ability to use the internet and web that would still reject it. In an article by Charles Ess, he gives an example of the eKiribati in the Solomon Islands who have rejected the internet due to the threat it poses to elements of their cultural identity. Another interesting insight relates to Kuwaiti women: research has found that the online behaviour of these women is often in line with existing cultural values. This suggests another culture that is more resistant to digital culture.
There is an explanation offered by Hongladarom (Ess, page 17) that digital culture is “thin” and these other cultures are “thick”, therefore internet and web usage cannot override ingrained culture. It is suggested that individuals can inhabit both thick and thin culture, and can weave between these cultures without huge consequences. Ess gives a number of examples where individuals prove that they are able to be part of the thin digital culture while also maintaining their own “distinctive cultural preferences and values” (“thick” culture), such as the Thai group that made use of online communication tools to reinforce their cultural identity.
Bowers, C.A., Vasquez, Migues, and Roaf, Mary, “Native People and the Challenge of Computers: Reservation Schools, Individualism, and Consumerism,” American Indian 24(2), 2000, 185.
Ess, Charles. (2002). Computer-mediated colonization, the renaissance, and educational imperatives for an intercultural global village. Ethics and Information Technology; 2002; 4, 1 (11-22)
Howe, Craig, “Cyberspace is No Place for Tribalism,” Wicazo Sa Review (Fall, 1998),
Turkle, Sherry. (2004). Whither Psychoanalysis in Computer Culture? Psychoanalytic Psychology, 21(1), 16-30