Reduced to Zero

Pic Binary code
Sucked into a digital vortex

Does it matter we’re all being sucked into a digital vortex?

Do we lack nuance when we witness our world in a digital context?

Think about a digital black and white photograph.

Magnify the photo and you’ll see tiny squares of black, white and gray.

Look deeply into the gray and you’ll see granules of black and white, comprising the gray.

The problem with digital is that things get reduced to one (1) and zero (0), says my best pal.

It’s all about binary code.

Digital code is written in ones and zeros because that’s the language of computers.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the one and zero.

Digital may be today’s metaphor for the loss of nuance.

If you can envision your world as ones and zeros, then you can reduce everything—a word, a song, a photograph—to its component parts of one and zero, black and white.

Sure, it’s a metaphor.

We don’t really see the world in pixels.

Pixel stands for “pixel element,” the monochrome unit of an image, in computerese.

So you—well, your image—is represented by a digital photograph on Facebook and by digital script on your email.

Like the digital X-rays of your teeth or the mammogram of your breasts, the images aren’t you: they only represent you.

So it’s useful to pause for a moment when confronting a story or an image.

You’re not getting the full picture.

Photo from the USDA government website



About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, framing, journalism, science, science communication, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Reduced to Zero

  1. Sometimes I become deeply tired of the one dimensionality of digital experience. I like to remember Gregory Bateson’s warning that the metaphor of the computer is very powerful and woefully inadequate.

    Liked by 1 person

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