This post explores some of my thoughts around concepts of Digital Culture. You can find the other related entries HERE.
Every month, my co-founder (and sister) Riwa and I pick a theme to explore . This month, we explored technology and nature.
In his 1986 memoir, American evolutionary biologist, E. O. Wilson describes the term biophilia as a fundamental, genetically based need for humans to interact with nature. This month, we spent some time exploring how technology has altered our experiences with the living world.
1. Our experiences of nature are now mediated by technology
Sue Thomas, author of Technophobilia: Nature In Cyberspace ponders whether or not we can get enough nature in the digital world, and explores the natural metaphors we use in our technological lingo. (Surfing the web, virus, cloud).
We have so much of “nature” at our fingertips. With HD quality videos, live streaming webcams, and 3D tours, we can explore the wonders of the world without leaving the comforts of home. In “Nature, Pixelated” Diane Ackerman discusses the paradox of experiencing the natural world through technology that provides greater access and detail while also flattening the sensory experience.
2. Nature continues to exert its influence on innovation and technology.
We’ve created neonatal tape inspired by spider webs, used the reflectiveness of butterfly wings to design a new e-reader display, and that’s just the beginning. Ask Nature, the world’s first biomimicry portal, is an open-source platform cataloguing more than 1200 ways that nature could help us solve some of our biggest challenges.
3. Our adaptivity as a species might work against us
Today we run the risk of “Environmental General Amnesia,” a gradual adaptation to the lack of nature around us will lower each subsequent generation’s baseline of what counts as a full measure experience. Thanks so light pollution, some children have never seen a star in real life. And that might become the “new normal.”
Henry Beston, Writer and Naturalist, wonders about our disappearing connection with nature:
Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of the night?
Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of the stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs?
The good news: Technology is making it easier for us to exchange information and find solutions to solve the mounting environmental crisis. The bad news: The source of most of the planet’s problems? Us.
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