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Two cultures, new cultures

I mentioned the “two cultures” yesterday and perhaps should explain this important way of expressing the intellectual and political problem of divided viewpoints, in the West, that results from a gulf between the arts and humanities, on one side, and science. A famous British scientist and novelist, C.P. Snow, is known for a speech in which he coined the phrase and explained the problem.

When I attend events with lots of Internet-savvy people, like this forum in Shanghai on Nurturing and Commercializing Online Communities, I’m struck by a new type of “two cultures” divide. There’s a business aspect, which I’ll write about later, but what struck me first were the casual references to “living digitally” and “virtual life.” Myself, I don’t think there is such a thing as a virtual life, though I’m happy to use online interaction to enrich my life and work. We have only one life, and our connections with other people are amongst the most important determinants of our personal happiness and our accomplishment and legacy. It’s fascinating to see how writers and filmmakers have explored these issues, and I returned to Berkshire’s popular culture databases with the “virtual life” question in mind.

Random items pop up when one logs onto our Human-computer Interaction in Popular Culture database, and I was pleased to see this today, as a good example:

Title: “Diaspora”
Author: Greg Egan
Date: 1999
Publisher: Eos
Category: Fiction
Summary: It’s the thirtieth century, and most of the population is no longer human, but rather beings downloaded into virtual reality software or robots.

And here’s what Community and Popular Culture looks like–with today’s random entry being a Chinese movie!

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Community in Movies, Books and Music

The Community in Popular Culture appendix to the Encyclopedia of Community brings together over 750 novels, nonfiction books, stage productions, movies, documentaries, television programs, and songs, emphasizing how central the theme of community is to human existence. Scholars and practitioners will find the list thought provoking and teachers will be able to use it to encourage analysis and discussion. Besides that, it’s just plain fun. Read more

Featured Movie Item:
Unknown Pleasures [Ren Xiao Yao]
Jia , Zhangke : 2002
Alienated young adults are lost souls in contemporay westernizing Beijing.

Janis Bowdler, Glen Brewster, Karen Christensen, Rachel Christensen, Tom Christensen, Diana Leafe Christian, Benjamin T. Conrick, Sarah Conrick, Emily Cotton, Sabrina Cutaia, Elizabeth Eno, Danyel Fisher, Cathleen Fracasse, Caroline Haythornthwaite, Robin Jarrett, Ib Jorgensen, David Levinson, Gina Neff, Mike Nichols, Ray Oldenburg, Philip Olson, Marcy Ross, Robert Ross, Sonya Salamon, Frank Salamone, Thomas Sander, Robin Shirer, Elizabeth Strom, Gretchen Weismann, Barry Wellman, Beverly Wellman, George Woodward, James L. Wunsch, and Michael Zuckerman.

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