KEYNOTE: Mediated Culture
Friday, August 27th
It took tens of thousands of years for writing to emerge after humans spoke their first words. It took thousands more before the printing press and a few hundred again before the telegraph. Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. A Flickr here, a Twitter there, and a new way of relating to others emerges. New types of conversation, argumentation, and collaboration are realized. Using examples from anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, YouTube, university classrooms, and “the future,” this presentation will demonstrate the profound yet often unnoticed ways in which media “mediate” our culture.
Dubbed “the explainer” by Wired magazine, Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture. After two years studying the implications of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he has turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society. His videos on culture, technology, education, and information have been viewed by millions, translated in over 15 languages, and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide. Wesch has won several major awards for his work, including a Wired Magazine Rave Award, the John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in Media Ecology, and he was recently named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic. He has also won several teaching awards, including the 2008 CASE/Carnegie U.S. Professor of the Year for Doctoral and Research.