Week 1: What is Culture?

I am currently taking an interesting module in cyber culture, as a weekly assignment I will be writhing blogs on what I have learnt in each class.

Credit: Krayz of walzark

To begin with, what is culture?

“Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” – Tylor, Primitive Culture (1871) What is Cyber Culture? Cyber Culture is the culture that has emerged from the use of computer networks for communication, entertainment and business. It is also the study of various social phenomena associated with the Internet and other new forms of network communication, such as online communities, online multi-player gaming, social gaming, social media and texting.

Is Technology changing culture?

Technology changes communication methods, it makes people live in two worlds, it allows for instant delivery of entertainment and news and it allows for easy political discourse. In some cases, technology makes for a more reclusive culture because people can simply

credit: Thinkist

explore the world from their computer instead of actually going out into it. Technology is allowing more people to work from home. Co-workers now communicate via email and co-workers from all over the world are now able to easily communicate with each other. Technology also allows for people to quickly access information and learn. Studies also suggest it could reinforce a greater sense of community.

Has Technology always changed culture?

Since the smartphone boom put tiny computers in hundreds of millions of pockets, there’ve been countless critics eager to point out that invasive technology is changing our lives for the worse, and worse, changing who we are. Turning us into selfish, anti-social automatons, they say, again and again and again.

Here’s a group of fine young lads hanging out in Chicago in 1907, enjoying the paper. Look familiar?

Students on their phones in hallway waiting for class
Are students really unsociable today ?

Looks an awful lot like these college students killing time, right?


And while there’s no doubt the world is changing…. …our behavior remains very much the same.

Need more proof? The webcomic xkcd collected a whole host of quotes from the past 150 years that show how we’ve always been afraid of change.

Here’s one I found very interesting very!

“The art of conversation is almost a lost one. People talk as they ride bicycles — at a rush — without pausing to consider their surroundings…What has been generally understood as cultured society is rapidly deteriorating into basebsss and voluntary ignorance.Capturegnm.PNG The profession of letters is so little understood, and so far from being seriously appreciated, that…Newspapers are full, not of thoughtful honestly expressed public opinion on the affairs of the nation, but of vapid personalities interesting to none save gossips and busy bodies.

-Marie Corelli, Free Opinions, Freely Expressed, 1905.

So if you think we’re terrible now, it’s probably only because you didn’t realize we were terrible before.

Lastly to discuss, What about cultural Lag?

Technology, in social change probably received most emphasis in the work of William F. Ogburn. Whisch we discussed in class. It was Ogburn, also, who was chiefly responsible for

credit: William F Ogburn Credit: TOMK Pinterest

the idea that the rate of invention within society is a function of the size of the existing culture base. He saw the rate of material invention as increasing with the passage of time. Ogburn believed that material and non-material cultures change in different ways.


Change in material culture is believed to have a marked directional or progressive character. This is because there are agreed-upon standards of efficiency that are used to evaluate material inventions.

Credit: AssemblePane.net

I found a very interesting example on line that explains this:  In relation to airplanes, we keep working to develop planes that will fly, higher and faster, and carry more payloads on a lower unit cost. Because airplanes can be measured against these standards, inventions in this area appear rapidly and predictably. In the area of non-material culture, on the other hand there often are no such generally accepted standards. Whether one prefers a carrots, broccoli , or Brussel sprouts , for example, is a matter of taste, and styles. Similarly, in institutions such as government and the economic system there are competing forms of styles, Governments may be dictatorships, oligarchies, republics or democracies.


Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, please feel free to leave a comment, tune in next week where we look at social media in Cyber Culture, bye for now! 🙂


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