Post-digital refers to the social, cultural and technical condition that followed the digital revolution.
What is a post-digital (world, society, reality, ...?)
Post-digital is a concept introduced and used by American Composer Kim Cascone (2000: 12) to describe new genres in Internet-driven computer music at the end of the 20thcentury (Glitch, microwave, DSP, …). Cascone referred to this ‘trend’ as post-digital, because he saw it as evidence that now ‘everyone’ is touched by digitalisation. According to Cascone post-digital referred to the fact that ‘the revolutionary phase of the information age has surely passed’ (Cascone, 2000:12).
Later, Lovink and Cramer (2014) took the concept to describe ‘a state in which the disruption brought upon by digital information technology has already occurred’ (Cramer, 2014: 9). Cramer introduced the concept in the context of media, arts and design, where he saw 'post-digital' as describing 'the messy state of media, arts and design after their digitisation' (Cramer, 2014: 8). The messy state here referred to the fact that 'post-digital' has two potential reactions:
- On the one hand, digitalisation in a post-digital reality is no longer perceived as disruptive, but as normal (and thus as hegemonic or powerful). Post-digital in this sense, stands in direct opposition to the very notion of 'new media'.
- On the other hand, the concept exposes or invites academics, scholars and activists to expose or deconstruct this post-digital reality
The post-digital world is thus still very much affected by digitalisation and refers to the ‘technical condition that followed the so-called digital revolution and is constituted by the naturalization of pervasive and connected computing processes and outcomes in everyday life, such that digitality is now inextricable from the way we live while forms, functions and effects are no longer perceptible’ (Albrecht, Fielitz & Thurston, 2019:11). Post-digital, in their conception, thus does not just refer to the technical side of digitalization, but also to the social, cultural and political effects of this normalization.
Post-Digital in new research
Maly & Blommaert (expected) build further on this concept when they introduce Digital Ethnographic Linguistic Analysis as a method to study meaning-making in place. Concretely, they argue that you can only understand and study the linguistic landscape (and grasp the processes of meaning making) when you study them in the ‘online-offline nexus’ (Blommaert & Maly, 2019). Digital Ethnography should therefore be injected into Linguistic Landscape Analysis.
Albrecht, Fielitz & Thurston (eds. 2019) use the concept to study and understand how far right activists and politicians use digital media to put themselves and their ideas in tot the market. They stress that ‘for those post-digital far-right actors leading the current resurgence, intermedia systems are not neutral communication tools. They are the catalysts for highly social processes and forums where political opinions are created, expressed and practiced.” (Albrecht, Fielitz & Thurston, 2019:11).
Albrecht, Fielitz & Thurston, (2019). The Post-digital cultures of the far right; Online actions and offline consequences in Europe and the US.Wetzlar: Transcript.
Blommaert, J. & Maly, I. (2019).Invisible Lines in the Online-Offline Linguistic Landscape Invisible lines in the online-offline linguistic landscape.
Cascone, K. (2000). The Aesthetics of Failure: "Post-Digital" Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music. Computer Music Journal,24(4), 12-18. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3681551
Cramer, F. (2014). What is 'post-digital'. APRJA.
Maly, I. & Blommaert, J. (expected). Hiperification and Capitalism.