Why ‘who we are’ matters in digital life

By | November 9, 2010

“(…) high-tech or digital products would be regarded as essentially culture-free products (…)” – “However, this notion needs to be revised.”

This post is a follow up to Susanne’s earlier post. It was great. It is an extremely important notion that we should focus our attention on where the masses are where WE are instead of where the masses are somewhere else.

Hang on – There is still culture, there are still habits

The main thesis to be discussed here, revolves around the idea that even though the Internet is said of being global and international, it just isn’t.

Doesn’t sound like much?

Well, it is argued that tools and services need to be integrated into the local culture and societal understanding in order to be successful. No one hot tool, flown in from the states will ever make it to go mainstream, if the solution it offers is not authentically understood by the user. Only because everyone in the Valley loves it doesn’t mean we will in the same way.

Therefore telling an Austrian business to use Twitter for more brand awareness compares to helping a music producer reanimate Michael Jackson: It might sound exciting, but it’s just impossible.

TechCrunch gimme more!

The development of a certain ‘copy and paste Mashable, because this is hot’- culture we read in many blogs around here is rather detrimental for a deeper understanding of our own user patterns. What we have yet to acquire is a certain sense of how we want to use the web for ourselves. Giving way to adaptations for our own distinct cultural background is something that was largely neglected so far. It was even suppressed to keep the “we are all global, we are all the same online” – paradigm alive.

Let’s kill this for now. It just doesn’t work. It just isn’t true. We are not global. We are local. We act locally, we live locally.

Fine, most of us are globally connected you say and we should ask for global tolerance.

So, well, glocal it is then what we are.

But still, much of this global, local stuff got us terribly confused. Particularly regarding the Internet.  Given the fact that this ‘web’ has only been reasonably functional for 10 years or so takes most of the blame off of us. Since, for at least a couple of years longer we will remain in experimental mode.

This, however, hasn’t kept us from glaring over to the almighty Valley most of the time, hanging on the words of Sergey and Mark. Therefore, what may be proposed is to change our perspective and turn it into a compelling, self-driven desire to shape this “Internet”, instead of continuing to be copycats. I am not saying we are all copyists. But frankly, has ever anybody in Europe set the agenda of what is being talked about in digital news? Can you remember anyone?

Let’s get our own view, not a prescription

Creating a rationale for which path we want to go down is therefore certainly something that can happen. Stating that we should stop glaring over to Dorsey and co. in order to get a small glimpse of our next nice little toy might be a start. Let’s rather try figuring out how this stuff around US works and how we can put this experience of a digital life to good use. It certainly is different.

Given the context of this conference, discussing the general nature of blogs might be a good start. Sounds banal? Sure, but looking at Europe, particularly focusing on the conference’s location, Vienna, have we really figured out what blogs are here for? Why do so few people around here care about blogs? What has to change in order to make blogging not only more widespread, but also more widely accepted as valuable content for society? But it’s getting more influential day by day you are crying out. Really? Is it? Around here? Or has another biased American view took control once more? Look around, isn’t something keeping the blogosphere down around here?

All this sounds like basics, you might want to add. But maybe going back there helps us redirecting our vision. I am looking forward to discuss some of these issues with you! Are some of them nagging you too?

More about me here.

One thought on “Why ‘who we are’ matters in digital life

  1. Tanja

    Who is regularly following blogs? It’s not the young generation under 18years, i don’t think our parents do even know this term either. Even if we are not only talking about the early adopters and the so called digital boheme, this whole discussion concerns only a fraction amount of Austrian people. Then again, what kind of blogs are we reading? Let’s -for this moment- forget about personal diaries/ field reports of friends. We either read blogs of otherwise well known public characters or special interest experts. Still bloggers need to prove their credibility with some kind of ‘real-life-evidence’. I’d say at the moment blogs are in contrast to online journalism more closely related to the author, than to the content or institution. Is this a problem? Yes! They do not independently stand for themselves, but are only some kind of additional feature. And worse: we still judge their worth by criteria of conventional, established media.

    (I’m talking about the average. There are, of course, exceptions. Let’s focus on them – what exactly marks them?)


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