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Computers as cultural objects

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Lawrence W.
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documents in English
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  1. Introduction
  2. Computer as the creation of culture
  3. The significant computers as cultural objects
  4. Struggles over the meaning of computers in a cultural context
  5. Functionalist theory on computer as a cultural object
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

The computer is without a doubt a central to the creation of culture in the twentieth-century (and beyond). Why is it that the computer has become so central to our culture when it is just a tool, or specifically a means for processing and spreading information? It many ways it is just like a piece of paper in that it can absorb what is applied to it, but it can also do so much more. It is a means of production that had seemingly endless possibilities.

The computer is so much more than just a piece of equipment. This is evident in the way that people present their computers in the offices, their homes and other places. When a computer sits in a home, it typically has a dedicated space, maybe even its own room, it is surrounded by periphery equipment like printers, a monitor, and even a computer chair and desk. When it is in an office the same setting exists. When a computer comes in the form of a laptop, expressions of culture can still be seen, for example in the way the laptop is decorated.

[...] There are important struggles over the meaning of computers in a cultural context. This is because they hold such an important place in Canadian society. The debate over the computer is especially relevant because it is very much related to people's vision of the future. In other words, people believe that computers hold the answer to where the future will go, meaning that computer capabilities will affect all aspects of our lives. This is a reasonable assumption. Debates over computers are quite speculative though, and this often leads to hype that is ungrounded, but it is also what makes cyber-culture such an interesting topic of study in sociology. [...]


[...] Most of us in this country have come to integrate computers into all or many aspects of the daily routine. We shop online, we bank online, and we do research online. For this reason, Canadians take a perspective of computers that is based on these ways in which the devices can help achieve certain lifestyles. This is because Canada is a developed and relatively affluent nation, which allows us in Canada to use computers in this way. Whereas, someone in a developing country does not see computers in the same way. [...]

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