Archive for September 20, 2011

Here are some thoughts to help you as you’re preparing your Internet culture presentation:

Culture is, essentially, shared meanings.

Some group of people share the meaning that a woman dressed like this is a bride:

bride-dress-white

Some group of people share the meaning that a woman dressed like this is a bride:

Indian_bride

As a shared set of meanings, culture translates into opinions, attitudes, values, expected behaviors, social norms, and behaviors. But these are all intangible. How can you infer what values and attitudes are when you cannot see them? We infer them from behaviors and artifacts (objects produced and used by that culture). So, lolcats are artifacts of Internet culture. What are the values, attitudes, and types of behaviors underlying lolcats – in addition to a healthy appreciation for cats, of course? >’.'<

Now, objects (artifacts) play an important role because they are the product of culture, but they help influence and create it at the same time. Even more so with social media sites. They are the product of Internet culture, but their use creates Internet culture (we should talk about structuration theory soon). So, of course they are important – but they are not all there is to talk about when you describe culture. When you describe culture, try to focus on these shared meanings, values, norms, and behaviors.

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