I admit it. I have a weakness for jargon.

I came across the (new-to-me) term postdigital in a tweet earlier this week, and try as I might, I’ve traced but few uses of the term outside of a handful of references — in particular in explorations of technological/human interrelationships in music and art.

In their now more than decade-old-book, The Postdigital Membrane, Robert Pepperell and Michael Punt sketch out postdigital as intending

to acknowledge the current state of technology whilst rejecting the implied conceptual shift of the ‘digital revolution’ – a shift apparently as abrupt as the ‘on/off’, ‘zero/one’ logic of the machines now pervading our daily lives. New conceptual models are required to describe the continuity between art, computing, philosophy and science that avoid binarism, determinism or reductionism.

Some of the stark binaries that Pepperell and Punt see as a challenge to a dynamic human system of interactions and experiences are certainly mitigated by the development of integrative model and thinking in systems and network paradigms that pervade our current moment of technological engagement.

Yet, now that the machine ecology is so pervasive, there is much to be said for thinking beyond the tools and the opportunities they afford to how we actually communicate, collaborate, think, and learn.

Pepperell and Punt go on:

The very unpredictability and ambiguity of human experience – its most valuable features – are being reconciled in the binary codes of digital processing . . . . These amputated descriptions expose the need for more flexible metaphors with which to describe the stable yet dynamic reality of the postdigital age.

In my admittedly superficial, wiki-borne knowledge  about the term, it’s apparent that postdigital has still not migrated far from its origins in acoustics, applied, and visual art. And in spite of its being fairly dated, postdigital makes contemporary sense as part of our technological present as a way to think about our engagement with ubiquitous technology–specifically, how does our use of digital tools and media define new and hybrid forms of discourse, interwoven cultural identities, and a perpetually networked social paradigm?

How, in other words, can we find a way of talking about “the digital” as more than just a quiver of  tools (albeit really cool ones), but rather a way to demonstrate our evoloving progressive, dynamic, and experiential engagement with communities and ideas?


In a timely a short piece at The Wall Street Journal’s Deloitte Insight yesterday, Suketu Gandhi defines “the postdigital enterprise” as one  in which business leaders have a choice to either “take your existing processes and apply these new technologies to them” on one hand, or rethink the process that technologies allow you to engage in.

Gandhi outlines”the big five disruptive technologies” which can help guide the direction of enterprise, most of which resonate quite clearly with aspects of the digital ecosystem I’ve been exploring on this blog:

  • social
  • mobility
  • analytics
  • cloud
  • cyber security

Nice as it is to see postdigital get traction in more mainstream media, it also underscores that much of the ubiquity of computing today is of course driven by opportunities to monetize social interactions and shifts in cultural perception. Not my intent here, but certainly illustrative of how insinuated culture and commerce often are.