Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 357. Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London <http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/> <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 10:47:14 +0100 From: "Charles Ess" <email@example.com> Subject: re. Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 350 Dear Willard: As I try to catch up on my Humanist mail after an _exceptionally_ busy eight weeks, I ran across your comment: Concerning the issue of online vs face-to-face, I thought that Sherry Turkle among others had shown that there was little or no evidence to support the claim for a causal relationship between use of the electronic medium and isolation of individual users. (Contrary scholarship, if you know of any, please!) Well, are you recalling both the Carnegie Mellon study of a couple of years ago, and the more recent one from Stanford - both of which find an inverse proportion between time spent on-line and social isolation? Or do you mean that Turkle has effectively refuted these - including the most recent Stanford - claims? Perhaps relatedly - one of the more interesting insights I gleaned from CATaC 2000 was drawn from the keynote address by Duane Varan, a media scholar who researched the impacts of TV as introduced among the Cook Islanders. Varan uses four mechanisms of erosion in geology as analogues suggestive of how media may affect societies and cultures. This analysis leads to the interesting argument that media research has focused on the wrong aspects of culture, namely, those core elements of culture most likely to resist "abrasion" - defined as the conflict between foreign values and local values - and thus least likely to change. Media impacts are greatest, he argues, as agents of *displacement* - a more indirect form of cultural change that occurs as new media displace elements _not_ actively reinforced and consolidated by the culture. So, for example, the impact of TV is greatest not as, say, the Simpsons may threaten to encourage anti-social behaviors (which it apparently does not) - but rather as TV displaces other cultural activities (in the case of Cook Island culture, preparations for and participation in communal dance and its traditions). In this way, the culture becomes more vulnerable to erosion. (Varan's keynote included material drawn from: Varan, Duane.1998. The Cultural Erosion Metaphor and the Transcultural Impact of Media Systems. Journal of Communication 48 (2): 58-85.) Hope this helps! Let me know if you need the references for the CMU and Stanford studies (although you can almost certainly find them easily enough on the Web, of course, if you don't already have them). Cheers and best wishes, Charles Ess Professor and Chair, Philosophy and Religion Department, Drury University 900 N. Benton Ave. Voice: 417-873-7230 Springfield, MO 65802 USA FAX: 417-873-7435 Home page: http://www.drury.edu/Departments/phil-relg/ess.html Co-chair, CATaC 2000: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/~sudweeks/catac00/ "Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult." Hippocrates (460-379 B.C.E.), _Aphorisms_, 1.
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