'Crossing the technical Rubicon': marketizing culture and fields of the digital

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


“Information technology, and all that it now offers, has crossed the technical rubicon into the realm of consciousness, to the realm of culture. Multi-media today gives us instruments which allow us to shape information in so many forms that they can become an integral part of our life’s experience.” Presented under the heading of Cultural Production in an Information Age, this statement in Creative Nation combines insight about the likely impacts of digital media and communications on culture with a dash of fashionable cyber-utopianism. Reading it over twenty years later, it is both prescient and cause for disappointment. At one level, there is a welcome privileging of culture in relation to digital media and communications. The pervasiveness of networked software and hardware and mobile computing technologies can, for instance, be witnessed in Australian museums and art galleries, the experience of television and reading, and attendance at live sport and music events. At another level, the crucial connection between cultural policy and information technology evident in Creative Nation has since been forgotten by national governments. Culture is now largely treated as a by-product STEM-dominated national innovation agendas, economic productivity concerns, and Prime Ministerial dreams of Silicon Valley style entrepreneurialism taking root in the antipodes.

The case presented in this chapter begins by outlining why ‘fields of the digital’ is a useful concept in thinking through the relationship between cultural production and digital media. In its support for a nationally focussed set of cultural industries, Creative Nation is positioned as an example of why an evolving sense of national culture and identity needs to be maintained in the face of globalizing media and commercial forces, and the effects of failing to do so. Actively supported and/or encouraged by government, these effects have resulted in the subjugation of culture by economic interests under a market framework, resulting in a wholesale capture of digital innovation by the logic of capital. The chapter concludes by suggesting that, in terms of federal government policy-settings around digital media and communications, culture is now little more than a by-product of STEM-dominated national innovation agendas and economic productivity concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaking Culture
Subtitle of host publicationCommercialisation, Transnationalism, and the State of ‘Nationing’ in Contemporary Australia
EditorsDavid Rowe, Graeme Turner, Emma Waterton
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315106205
ISBN (Print)9781138094123
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Cite this