The Digital Divide: Nomadicity by Todd Gitlin

Zachariah James Watson

Todd Gitlin begins his article by discussing self-sufficiency. He describes it as the most “tempting and expansive element of modern motifs, which feels a lot like its own form of liberation. That is, until it starts to feel like a banal, and we end up feeling the need to find the next “liberation.” People usually tend to gravitate toward portability and miniaturization, with each one being its own kind of “freedom” in everyday life. Not only must material provisions/possessions be available on demand, but they must also be available instantly/immediately” (Gitlin).

Gitlin then goes on to discuss how modern technology has enabled us to become more nomadic, at least internally, with our sense of how it has continually and gradually reshaped our perceptions of relationships, culture, and society. “Throughout the twentieth century, supply and demand have looped together in an unceasing Mobius strip, technology has always increased the radius of contact between one another (the pay phone, radios, answering machines, fax machines, laptops, etc.). Once interactivity through machines became feasible, the hallmark of communication inventions eventually became nomadicity, which means that wherever and whenever we move around, the underlying system always knows who we are, where we are, and what services we need” (Gitlin).

Discussion Questions:

1) What are your thoughts on Gitlin’s statement/position on nomadicity?

2) Do you think that nomadicity is a positive or negative element within the realms of our culture and society?


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