Theorizing New Media in a Global Context


Session Title:

  • Changing Perspectives on Digital Media in Global Age

Presentation Title:

  • Theorizing New Media in a Global Context




  • New media provides contexts for global-scale interaction, but theorization around new media rarely intersects with globalization discourses. In a field largely driven by technological innovation, critical theory may be seen as unproductive and thus extraneous. This paper examines the intersection of digital media’s practice and criticality, moving away from theories of form and procedure, and situating its scholarship in a global ethical context. Few contest the idea that advanced computational and communications technologies play a definitive role in today’s global economic, social, cultural, political and even ecological orders. The evidence of this exists in technologies used to implement the internationalization of management, the globally shifting labor pools, the enabling of a cosmopolitan managerial elite, transnational banking and other such signs of economic globalization. It lives as well in social, political and cultural manifestations of globalization such as WikiLeaks and the social-media fueled Arab Spring. While new media forms have a transnational impact, and profoundly influence globalization, one sees little critique or consciousness around issues of globalization as the context in which new media discourses take place. What is the disconnect between new media’s global impact, and new media’s discourses, which maintain little engagement with theorization of larger social and ethical concerns? In the context of rapid technological evolution, should the study of digital and electronic culture mirror ethical concerns, given the urgent social and political work that needs doing in the world? For example, universal rights discourses might be one key area where computational and communications technologies have contributed to major shifts by increasing the fluidity with which global subjects move across traditional nation-state borders, in keeping with shifting international demands for both the managerial class
    and labor. Considering the rights of diasporic, transnational and migrant subjects requires greater attention as their global numbers increase. How can these and other issues of social uplift extend to an area that is fundamentally concerned with perpetual innovation, and often situated in a profit-oriented context?

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