Life as an Extreme Sport

Technotranscendant Cyborgs

Wired News has an article up on the research of an up and coming associate professor of marketing from New York University in Toronto who’s studying the impact of digital entertainment devices. What I find most interesting is the argument, further down the article, that

IPod and user form a cybernetic unit… We’re always talking about cyborgs in the context of cultural theory and sci-fi literature, but this is an excellent example that they’re out there in the marketplace…. I have seen the future, and it is called the cyborg consumer.

One can assume by his reference to cultural theory that he’s talking about Donna Haraway and Katherine Hayles, and perhaps to a lesser degree James Der Derian; Hayles talks about cybernetics and “becoming post-human,” Der Derian wrote a fascinating book about the military entertainment complex (and the merging between humans and computers that was necessary to really make the first merging successful), and Haraway gave us “The Cyborg Manifesto.” While it’s certainly accurate to say that Hayles and Haraway are critical theorists (and perhaps Der Derian is), the implication that it takes someone from marketing to do “something useful” with the idea of the cyborg is misleading and a sort of reverse elitism with its implications. Since Giesler is extending his theory to the media entertainment complex later in the article, you can also start including Sherry Turkle, Lisa Nakamura, and a whole host of authors Jen had to read last quarter into the group of theorists Giesler is following.

Yes, the iPod as an ethnographray would be an interesting read, but the ideas being presented are not terribly new or novel; I have freshman who conceived of and are studying ideas of augmenting ourselves with our technology, the media entertainment complex, and cyborg culture, and they hit upon these ideas without needing years of training, theory, or experience. It’s an interesting field, but Giesler isn’t groundbreaking – he’s following in the very established and entrenched footsteps of others.