Download The Trouble With Culture: How Computers Are Calming the by F. Allan Hanson PDF

By F. Allan Hanson

How the pc revolution can ease polarization and aid calm the tradition wars.

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THE DIVISIVE EFFECTS OF AUTOMATION Most of what will be said in this book about the automation of information has to do with how it acts as an antidote to the trouble with culture, diminishing divisiveness by encouraging a view of cultural differences as complementary rather than contradictory or compartmental. This position may come as something of a surprise, for the more general opinion is probably that automation can be and often is used for the opposite end of magnifying contradictory and compartmental differences (Becker and Wehner 2001).

Leaving is an option that seems to be exercised frequently. 2 Human interaction in cybercommunities has a number of peculiarities. It occurs at a distance, with a time delay in communities that use asynchronous communication. It is observed by unknown numbers of “lurkers,” who do not contribute, whose presence is invisible, and who can scarcely be considered community members. Many of those who do contribute are only loosely constrained by the rules of “Netiquette,” and some of them remain anonymous or present themselves disingenuously.

Contributors consisted of women who had children, or were trying to have them, by donor insemination. Most of their messages dealt with efforts, experiences, and advice regarding the technique, but more general accounts also appeared about their children’s activities, attitudes of relatives and friends, problems at work, vacation trips, and so on. I was struck by the warmth and generosity of the responses that the various postings evoked. The question, of course, is whether sitting alone at a computer terminal and tapping out supportive sentiments to people one has never met is equivalent to the investment of emotional and material resources required to sustain face-to-face relationships or to belong to traditional communities.

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