Postmodern Virtualities


Postmodern Virtualities

Mark Poster

(This essay appears as Chapter 2 in my book The Second Media Age (Blackwell 1995)

“In the twentieth century electronic media are supporting an equally profound transformation of cultural identity. Telephone, radio, film, television, the computer and now their integration as “multimedia” reconfigure words, sounds and images so as to cultivate new configurations of individuality. If modern society may be said to foster an individual who is rational, autonomous, centered, and stable (the “reasonable man” of the law, the educated citizen of representative democracy, the calculating “economic man” of capitalism, the gradedefined student of public education), then perhaps a postmodern society is emerging which nurtures forms of identity different from, even opposite to those of modernity. And electronic communications technologies significantly enhance these postmodern possibilities. Discussions of these technologies, as w e shall see, tend often to miss precisely this crucial level of analysis, treating them as enhancements for already formed individuals to deploy to their advantage or disadvantage.”

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