I bought my first PC, ever, in January 2001. As a medical student and a child of the eighties in India (what I call the lost generation) computers were for engineers to do all kinds of things they do. The future was a lucrative medical practice, that’s all. Audio tapes abounded and walking around campus with a walkman was ‘herogiri’. We made trunk calls to our parents on Sundays from the hospital reception at Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Karad, District Satara. Maharashtra.
So I bought my first PC in January 2001 in India and my first mobile phone here in Auckland in 2002. A couple of weeks ago I bought my first laptop, the ASUS eee PC 901 and leased a Mac this week. Now I have a home hub that has enabled my flat with a wireless network, the eee PC is Bluetooth configured to my mobile phone and I can edit my film on the big Mac while browsing Safari. I can live in many worlds at the same time, take what I want, mould and fit it into my existence and learn to be comfortable with it. And now I am writing this blog on the eee PC sitting by the fireplace in the warm comfort of my living room. WOW!
I am a digital migrant! I am a transculturist!
My journey into digital realms began almost the same time as my life in Aotearoa New Zealand. I moved to NZ in December 2001. A dual migration. My mind was already in the space of things-I-knew and imagined-but-did-not-think-existed. Intangible ideas about culture and creativity; life; the world. Dreams of a GP in Girgaum, Mumbai, India. I was obviously already connected to the web and knew about the interntet and all that….duh…but the space in which you live/exist brings a different perspective to even digital spaces. Ya? At the risk of making a tenuous connection I think being a digital migrant helped me crystallise my politics and identity about culture and life. Made me a transculturist.
Digital natives are those that grew up with and were surrounded by digital devices. They think differently from digital immigrants according to Marc Prensky. There is a cultural divide, a generation gap amongst digital natives and digital migrants. Then there are those migrants that assimilate and those that integrate. Or not. Just like those that migrate to other countries. (This is just my theory.)
In my digital world not only do I do the FB, YT, Flickr, Google Earth, i-Google thing, I have a social life, I connect with other people, read articles, blog, learn new things, do my Christmas shopping on-line…etc. I am not enslaved to everything this world offers, I am not concerned that I don’t have an i-pod and hence am naff. I take what I want and discard what does not suit me. But I am aware of the choices. This digital realm is an integral layer of my life. It makes me look at the world in a different light because I am part of it and it is part me. Just like the various cultures and peoples that I encounter in Aotearoa New Zealand and take for granted. And it is not just ‘ethnic’ cultures or the Anglo-Saxon pakeha mashed potato, chips and fish. Even various European cultures that I was only vaguely aware are around for me to absorb from. On Friday night I watched the Mark Morris Dance Group perform the Mozart Dances. My Indian senses wanted a narrative in each dance but then a conversation at the after-party (dahlings!) made me think. Not everything in life has to have a narrative does it? The dances were like a river flowing gently and gracefully to wonderfully touching Mozart compositions. My transculturism is not just hip-hop bhangra haka is it? On Saturday, at the Taste Of Japan event, I met a Japanese guy from Blenheim who makes t-shirts inspired by Japanese designs. How cool is that? And the Hello Kitty toys. And those various anime toys…sometimes I wish I did grow up in India with a ripe, non-Bollywood, counter youth culture. Maybe there was one but I completely missed it? However I like where I am today. Absorbing, learning, growing up. Changing. All the time.
I am on the path of migration and there is no going back.