Electronic Hybridity: The Persistent Processes

It was intersting to see online political discourse (with a case study on the Kerry-Edwards attempt to build a blog presence in 2004) and a history of the internet filtered through a folklorist’s lens. I’m saving this in case I need ever need to update some of the insights found in the older, classic, historical studies of cyberculture (such as Buckles’s dissertation on Adventure, or Levy’s Hackers, or Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine).

While mass-mediated communication technologies have empowered the institutional, participatory media offer powerful new channels through which the vernacular can express its alterity. However, alternate voices do not emerge from these technologies untouched by their means of production. Instead, these communications are amalgamations of institutional and vernacular expression. In this situation, any human expressive behavior that deploys communication technologies suggests a necessary complicity. Insofar as individuals hope to participate in today’s electronically mediated communities, they must deploy the communication technologies that have made those communities possible. In so doing, they participate in creating a telectronic world where mass culture may dominate, but an increasing prevalence of participatory media extends into growing webs of network-based folk culture. — Robert Glenn Howard, Journal of American Folklore 121(480): 192-218 (PDF)

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