BBC Radio 4 - Start the Week, New Digital Age
BBC Radio 4 - Start the Week, New Digital Age

Starting the Week in the Digital Age

31 May 2013

Lighthouse's Artistic Director, Honor Harger joined Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt and former Wikileaks employee James Ball on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week to discuss the New Digital Age.

Frequency and Volume by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.Installation view at Invisible Fields, Barcelona. Co-curated by Lighthouse.
Frequency and Volume by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.Installation view at Invisible Fields, Barcelona. Co-curated by Lighthouse.

On Monday 27 May 2013, I was on BBC Radio 4′s Flagship conversation programme, Start the Week, alongside Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, statistician, David Speigelhalter, and data journalist and former Wikileaks employee, James Ball.

We were there to talk about technology and society, in the light of the controversial new book, The New Digital Age, written by Schmidt and his fellow Google colleague, Jared Cohen. The book sets out a future shaped by the ubiquity of digital technology, and the arrival online of the next five billion users of the internet. Formed of seven chapters, the book describes pair’s vision of the future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting; States; Revolution; Terrorism; Conflict; Combat and Intervention and Reconstruction. Whilst it provides a wide range of detailed speculations and predictions about the future of nation states, and how they will be transformed by an age of global connectivity, the book is short on detail about how large corporations, such as Google – who will presumably play a leading role in enabling this New Digital Age – will fit into this new era.

Start the Week set out to discuss these and other issues. Moderated by Emily Maitlis, the broadcast version of the programme is an edit of the conversations we had. To provide some more context, I’m including below some of the notes from the preparatory conversations, the recorded discussion, and the discussions we had together before and afterward

Culture in the New Digital Age

My role on the panel to to discuss digital culture. Just as technology is transforming so many aspects of the way we live our lives, it is also changing the environment within which culture exists, and within which art is conceived and practiced.

Lighthouse, believes that digital artists – who make art which reflects on technology, without being blinded by its novelty – can be highly perceptive about the societal effects of technology. Indeed we could describe digital artists as the veritable canaries in the mine, detecting weak signals about how our technologised world is shaping up, and giving us ways of both perceiving this changing world, and acting within it.

The writer William Gibson once famously said, “the future’s already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Digital art is one of the areas this already-arrived future seems to accrete around, and for that reason it’s an incredibly interesting place to look if you’re curious about how technology is changing society.

At Lighthouse we create exhibitions, productions and events that show that digital culture is about more than tools and gadgets. It’s about showing the way that technology is transforming society; changing the way we work, play, interact and indeed what it means to be human in the 21st century.

In a very real sense it is the culture of the now – not the future – but of the current moment.

Read the rest of Honor’s blog post about the New Digital Age here

Listen to Start the Week here



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