How computers can cure cultural diabetes - opinion - 05 July 2011 - New Scientist The networked computer offers an antidote to the junk culture of broadcasting. Why not choose the healthy option, says Peter Lunenfeld
All animals download, but only a few upload anything besides faeces and their own bodies. Beavers build dams, birds make nests and termites create mounds, yet for the most part, the animal kingdom moves through the world downloading. Humans are unique in their capacity to not only make tools but then turn around and use them to create superfluous material goods - paintings, sculpture and architecture - and superfluous experiences - music, literature, religion and philosophy. Of course, it is precisely these superfluous things that define human culture and ultimately what it is to be human. Downloading and consuming culture requires great skills, but failing to move beyond downloading is to strip oneself of a defining constituent of humanity. […]
The challenge the computer mounts to television thus bears little similarity to one format being replaced by another in the manner of record players being replaced by CD players. It is far more profound than that, because it can bring about a radical break from the culture of television and a shift from a consumption model to a production model.
This is a historic opportunity. Fifty years of television dominance has given birth to an unhealthy culture. Created like fizzy drinks and burgers by multinational conglomerates, the junk culture of broadcasting has turned us into intellectual diabetics. The cure is now in our collective grasp. It involves controlling and rationing our intake, or downloading, and increasing our levels of activity - uploading. Not to break it down too much, watching is ingesting is downloading and making is exercising is uploading.