I am very pleased to announce that Will Burdette (a very good friend and colleague at UT Austin, and the author of the Mediated Humanities blog) and I just received word that our presentation “Folkways These Days: Crafty Knowledge in Digital Networks” has been accepted to the 2011 SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Some details remain to be ironed out. We don’t yet know our presentation time. Also, we have not yet finalized the other 2-3 panel members, but we will most likely be bringing in some non-academics in an effort to complement our own perspective. Thanks to all those who voted for our panel! I have posted the full description below.
Folkways These Days: Crafty Knowledge in Digital Networks
Organizers: Will Burdette, University of Texas at Austin and Nate Kreuter, Western Carolina University
With the rise of the virtual has come a renewed interest in the material. Evidence of this renewed interest is everywhere in pop culture, from steampunk to Maker Faire, from Readymade to Make to Etsy, from yarn bombing to LED throwies. We see it in craft: the handmade mandolin, the carefully stitched quilt, the custom cabinet. We see it in the vinyl resurgence and the newfound nostalgia for the mix tape. We see it in the Bamboo Bike Studio. We see it in the resurrection of Polaroid film by the IMPOSSIBLE project. Even as we go further into digital culture, we’re getting up from the computer to hold stuff, to make stuff, to shake stuff. And yet, there’s a sense that renewed interest in the material is facilitated by digital networks. That is, we go online to learn about craft, to meet-up with makers, to feed our fetishes. We send pictures of our creations from our digital devices to our social networks. All over the Web non-technical people are using new media to create, arrange, redesign, archive, and distribute their crafts. As they do, new techno-folkways are being passed down not only via new tools and networks, but also–as William Graham Sumner writes in his seminal book, Folkways–by “tradition, imitation, authority.” Folkways–the paths worn by mild social pressure–are being trod online. This panel will explore the various crossroads where craftwork meets network, with special attention paid to bridging the digital divide in rural America.
- Is the maker trend an urban, suburban, or rural happening?
- What is the state of the digital divide in America? Are remote rural communities still digitally isolated?
- How can digital networks be used in rural communities where craftsmanship is often less a statement than a heritage?
- Is the maker trend elitist in a world where Walmart has the lowest prices in rural towns?
- Do digital networks threaten or encourage craftsmanship?