Digital Technology and Teaching American Culture

By Batchelor, Bob | Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), March 2011 | Go to article overview

Digital Technology and Teaching American Culture


Batchelor, Bob, Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)


Popular Culture is the voice of this world, spoken in a thousand languages. Popular Culture Studies are therefore the New Humanities, intended to take up all the subjects singly and collectively and bring some order and understanding to the seeming chaos . . . we must of course study the Humanities internationally and comparatively. No longer is American scholarship defensibly a continent mentality. It is a world mentality.

(Ray B. Browne, "The Theory-Methodology Complex" 149)

We are global. We are digital. These forces feed and grow off one another. In the twenty-first century it seems almost old-fashioned to think anything less. The statistical evidence supporting the ubiquity of digital technology is staggering. One group calculates that total worldwide Internet growth has increased some 445 percent from 2000 to 2010, encompassing nearly two billion users globally (Miniwatts). Another popular indicator of the digital present and future is the seemingly ever-increasing size of Facebook's population, which reportedly exceeds five hundred million active users, who spend seven hundred billion minutes per month on the site ("Statistics").

There is no doubt that digital technology is a critical component of popular culture, weaving its way through virtually every aspect of society. Indeed, no aspect of mass communications is left unaffected by the rush toward digitalization. What is less clear, however, is the cumulative outcome that all-pervasive digital culture is having on teaching American culture studies. Much of the evidence is anecdotal, whether one stands for or against the Web and electronic technology as it pertains to how people think and learn (Johnson 9-14).

This essay combines a broad array of electronic threads to reveal a new way of looking at teaching American culture in the digital age. What quickly becomes apparent is that the US role as the world's innovation hub fuels much of its continuing leadership in digital technology, thus propelling a vision of America worldwide. In other words, the nation's culture (both real and imagined) seeps into the products of its technology exporters, such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google.

In addition, America serves as the epicenter of mass media globally, whether streaming from the film and television studios in Hollywood or the countless journalists who dominate the multitude of channels that feed the nation's seemingly insatiable appetite for news and entertainment. In this instance, one could point to Disney's ability to export both its traditional animated characters and teen stars globally (such as Miley Cyrus) as a model for how a particular view of America is presented overseas.

From a historic viewpoint, American culture has dominated global popular culture based on its technological leadership of Web-based and consumer technology (Ashby 512-17). As these innovations are adopted outside the United States, they actually become less American and more global. Technologist James W. Cortada explains, "Collaborative behavior, rather than just adversarial actions, has been increasing thanks to the nature of IT; indeed, the technology itself has conversely been molded in service to make collaboration more possible than in any time in human history, to the extent that today it involves billions of people" (252). In other words, as American Web sites, applications, high-tech gadgets, and consumer goods disperse globally and gain market share, they simultaneously become less US-centric, even as they remain influenced by American culture.

Specifically analyzing Facebook and Apple (in terms of iPod, iPhone, and iPad ubiquity), for example, one sees these technologies as distinctly part of American culture, but worldwide adoption causes them to be simultaneously less American. In one sense, then, they are casting a wider net for American culture, while also watering down their "Americanness." Scholar Joachim K. Rennstich finds the global environment increasingly complex, explaining "individuals and organizations [are] sponsoring and advancing innovation that results in the strengthening of the global layers of interactions" (199). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Digital Technology and Teaching American Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.