Digital Design and Sovereignty

Instead of using my last post to review the projects that I made this semester, I’d like to talk about the way this class changed my perspective on the Internet and culture in general. I see the essential question that defines this class as: “Why should I choose to learn how to create rather than being a passive consumer?”. On first glance, there seems to be no real reason not to accept the role of consumer in today’s society. We live in a world surrounded by a seemingly endless amount of content. It seems that we could live comfortably without ever having to create or contribute to the broader culture. And there is a significant barrier to the making of new objects. There is no sense of the “local” online. Every digital object must compete with every other object on the internet for the attention of the crowd (with some segregation based on language).

So why should we create if our efforts are highly unlikely to be successful? I think I have an answer. The act of individual creation is a way of reasserting our own sovereignty in a world increasingly ruled by experts. Walker Percy describes this loss of sovereignty in his essay “The Loss of the Creature”: 

“This loss of sovereignty is not a marginal process …. It is a generalized surrender of the horizon to those experts within whose competence a particular segment of the horizon is thought to lie.”

The act of creation allows us to reclaim the world from the experts and corporations and view the world as it really is rather than as we are told it should be. That’s why learning how to create and learning how to be a maker is valuable.

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