Today I was told by my instructor to select an inanimate object and analyze the impact it has on culture as well as what it represents regarding its culture. Given my familiarity with the laptop and the amount of creative freedom I knew it would present, that is my chosen cultural artifact for this post.
Gazing upon the sleek, darkly chromatic laptop I initially think of a multi-purposed tool. An intricately engineered, powerful tool that has revolutionized very much of how we live today. This tool allows us to bridge the gap of distance often found within social interaction. The laptop, or more broadly the personal computer in general, has played a major role in ushering forth the age of individualism. We grasp the power of nearly unrestricted knowledge at our fingertips. Collaboration and contribution to society has never been more physically convenient! We have access today to a myriad of publicly accessible programs such as google and google maps, as well as YouTube and other forums for user generated content like Newgrounds. Not only has the personal computer opened up a gateway to social globalization, it has revolutionized our mediums of art and the attention those works of art receive as well! Going back to Youtube, for example: how many first world citizens aren’t aware of YouTube in the year 2013? There are millions, if not billions of videos generated by complete strangers. Furthermore, many users actually receive revenue if their videos receive enough attention. Without the personal computer, there would be little room for the advertisement industries and the advent of publicly generated content. That being said, the progress of modern day research has been further stimulated by the computer. My father used to tell me all these stories about how he would have to visit his library and use a program referred to as MicroFiche. While it was an older innovation used for research, it was by no means Google at all. You’d have to pull out these reels from file cabinets and then arduously begin research that was far slower than typing in a phrase consisting of five words and clicking “search”. The personal computer has not only revolutionized how we communicate, but also what we communicate about and the way we ponder the subjects of these conversations. For example, Americans today have more exposure to the mentalities of different cultures and why they behave the way they behave. We have more access to information regarding the way citizens of other nations speak, court, and do business among a colossal list of other things. Part of the reason for this might be attributed to Google to some extent, but the true gem here is the access we have to citizens of foreign nations. Through online social networking forums such as Reddit and Facebook, we have a much higher chance of coming into contact with these individuals. While there has definitely been an influx of intercultural social interactions, I believe this is a trend that will continue to grow and hopefully integrate different cultures a little more in the long run. As people continue to see the merits of broadening their horizons and consistently speaking with people who view the world differently, perhaps the demand will grow and there will be web developers and programmers standing by- ready to step in and further the globalization of our world’s many cultures.