“There is something powerfully compelling about the culture of today’s communication technology, including the digital sublime, but this magnetic power extends back in time to earlier examples of the electrical sublime and further back to the technological and the natural sublime.”
As a teenager living within this digital sublime, it is difficult to think that there were teens just like myself many years ago who were awe-struck over the telephone, electricity, radio or television. Fast forward to today and the word telephone is slowly fading away and is being replaced with words like cellphone or Skype. Electricity for that matter, is only considered something which is required to run our new technology, not some sort of “exempliﬁcation of Christianity, science, and progress.” Radio has also changed drastically, thousands of channels are available through services like Sirius Satellite Radio and the number of podcasts available online grows larger each day. Finally the television, which is the newest form of technology mentioned, still shares the general concept with which it began. Like the radio, television providers now offer thousands of channels covering every subject of interest. Most recently television has become easily available on handheld devices like cellphones or tablets.
I feel somewhat inclined to defend the sublime which I am a part of, but I would be wrong to do so. There is no doubt that the communication technology widely available today is powerfully compelling. There is no doubt that the folks who were raving about electricity back in the day would be absolutely dumbfounded by what is now available in the digital sublime. But truthfully, if I was alive during the electrical sublime and not the digital sublime I believe I would be equally, if not more compelled by the creation of electricity. Consider a creation which allowed you to safely travel out doors at night. A creation which allowed you to light your home at any time without having to use a candle. That was absolutely revolutionary at the time and they deserved to celebrate and drool over it. Like Mosco states, this isn’t the first time the masses have been compelled by technological breakthrough… nevertheless the second, third, fourth and so on.
Without the sublimes of the past the sublimes of the present and future would not be possible. Without the telephone, electricity, radio and television there is no way that we would be able to create the technology which we now use today. Just like the sublimes before it, the digital sublime will have to fade away one day and make room for the next sublime. As of right now, it shows no signs of stopping.
Could this technology be part of the next sublime? All I know, is it really raises the question…
What Have We Turned Into?
– Ian McDougald
Mosco, Vincent. “The Digital Sublime.” Scribd. Web. 30 Mar. 2012. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/44930029/The-Digital-Sublime>.