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Critical Digital

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Convenor: Dr Mike Kent

Marshall McLuhan was one of the first theorists to popularise the study of the impact of technology on society. His catch cry of the medium is the message was first published in 1964 some five years before the first codes of the Internet took their first tentative steps down the information highway. Digitisation creates a new kind of medium and a new mode of information. This mode creates a convergence of texts; sound, vision, the written word, and programs now share the same medium and can be both accessed and encoded in a wide and expanding variety of hardware formats. Crucially also within this environment what is said makes things happen. The division between word and deed becomes complex.

The process of digitisation has bearing on notions of space, time and identity. There is a lack of up to date research into these effects and their consequences, and they do produce unexpected results. Why was SMS such an unexpected killer application? Why was WAP such an unexpected failure? Many theories when confronted with the process of digitisation need to be rethought and updated, and some need to be replaced entirely to provide an understanding of this field.

The critical digital hub will create a place of confluence for many disciplines across the social and computer sciences. However within this confluence the place for Cultural Studies as a guerrilla discipline working on the edge is prominent. Here is a place for the study, discussion, and activation of the digitised environment as it intersects with community, society, the self, economics and the state. But this is but a sample. No one can be told what critical digital — is you have to make it for yourself, so pull up a virtual seat, and make your own space. Welcome to Critical Digital.

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