Trend-tracking isn’t my day job. But in my own shuttling back and forth between physical and digital curation, scholarship, and teaching, I’m regularly struck by the ways in which the normativity of screen culture today is intensifying urges for sensorially richer, more tactile forms of experience and communication. From the revival of knitting and other forms of manual craft to the
chapbook subculture that seems to be spreading worldwide to makers fairs, “analog” modes of experience, culture, and knowledge making/sharing are showing signs of renewed vigor. Or, rather, their renewal is being fed by the very pervasiveness of networked electronic screens.
It’s a dialectic (and it’s this dialectic that I think we need to
design for, whether we are designing knowledge, future classrooms, galleries and libraries; or trying to reshape the book as a cognitive object).
Among digital natives –viz. my students– I’m encountering a growing proportion who are web savvy but web-engaged only to
the degree that such engagement assumes the form of a corridor that runs back and forth between screens and more tactile realms of experience. I take this as a cautionary tale that underscores the fundamental importance of retaining our commitment to grappling with the FULL human sensorium even as forms of cultural and social exchange migrate to the digital realm.