Monday, May 1, 2017

Digital Media: Cultural H-Bomb!

Digital Media: Cultural H-Bomb!
Anurag Rai
Student, B.Sc. Animation and Multimedia (Hons.) 2014-17 Batch, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra: Ranchi, Noida Campus

(If the cultural H-Bomb is dropped, it spews culture
in form of art, music or design to a radius exactly
same as that of the mother earth.
Causes mutation in thoughts and lifestyle for generations to come)

A child always resides inside a person. This child is mischievous, unsettling, and uncompromising. Above all, a curious being. It always puts forward certain strange questions like ‘how does this works? How does that works? Why?’ which are hard to explain with words. Like when, I was a kid I asked my father if we lived inside the earth. Because the idea that we lived on earth’s surface with sun and the mammoth galaxy above our head and still be alive was way too complicated and unbelievable. To find the most coherent answer for my peculiar but genuine question was a matter of seven days and lots of discussions and debates with my father and teachers. Now that I think of it, I realize it could have been so much easier if someone illustrated the whole concept and narrated to me in an engaging way. Because when you explain even the most complicated things visually, they’re naturally much more compelling than text or verbal communication. The visuals, holds your hand and take you places beyond the world, as we know it. It holds the power of making us travel anywhere we would wish to go, it’s that easy. The TV series, Cosmos by Carl Sagan was around while I grew up but I wasn’t aware about it because there wasn’t any way through which I could know about it in India. There wasn’t abundance of digital media on the internet when I was growing up. Therefore, I was deprived of a descriptive visual answer (the way I wanted) to my question.

With the boom of digital media questions can be answered easily. Information is available in abundance, in various forms. Fetching your curiosity is now a matter of very little time. Things are made so simple to understand that an 8-year-old can understand particle physics. In today’s time when the world is at our fingertip through the mobile-gadgets and an internet connection, we can travel anyplace, anywhere we want to and get the answers to whats, whys, whos and hows. In such times when time is a luxury, digital media i.e. gaming, animation, videos etc. are the answer to our prayers. It saves us ample of time and we get to know the rocket science behind a complex, compound object without even consciously trying to learn. Now, isn’t that magical?

Digital media is an extremely dynamic platform. It engages people from all walks of life, all age groups benefit from it. The content is presented in a compelling way. They are colourful, full of information and intriguing. Their communication is to the point, bang on, zero noise. It can answer complex scientific questions as well as super-complicated political movements in a fairly simple manner. The amount of time to develop such content and distribute it across the globe is unmatched by any other medium.

I played a lot of historic simulation video games in my teens. They exposed me to world history, jargons of a particular time, design, architecture and thought-fashion of that time. I was playing for entertainment’s sake but the bundle information and exposure I got for was without even trying.

On the other hand, if you have a question, you look it up on the internet. The internet summons up the answer in various media forms. You select the whichever way you want to know the answer. The gigantic task of feeding the answers to the curious world is utterly simple through digital medium. For digital media breaks down the complexity into simple elements and illustrate it so adorably that a child would fall in love with the medium it is presented in itself. This could produce a generation of great men, on a huge scale now if we think about it.

The other interesting part about digital media and technology revolution is that it might create a gulf between generations. A father might not be able to relate to his son because the technology that the son is exploiting, exposure to information at the tender age would radicalize his philosophy/thought process about the world and life severely. When compared to the father, who had primitive technology at his hands back in the time, he might not understand the mechanism of his son’s behavior. Although, if a person is a constant learner, open to wonder and curiosity despite the age this might not be a big problem.

‘Sita Sings the Blues’ (2008) is an animated film by Nina Paley. According to her, the free culture of digital media is helping revolutionize the mind of an individual and hence, the cultures of the world. It’s an extremely important medium for all of us. It is evolving our thoughts and culture rapidly. It makes human expression very convenient.

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