Adequate Pedagogy: the Missing Piece of Digital Culture

Simon Penny

From A Guide to Good Practice in Collaborative Working Methods and New Media Tools Creation

Section 0: Introduction

0.1 The challenge

Human culture, and western culture in particular, is in a process of radical change due to the development of digital technologies. It is a commonplace that this change is as radical as the transition to industrialism during the industrial revolution. It is characteristic of cultural practices that emerging technologies are rapidly colonised and tested. A diverse range of new digital cultural practices are currently emerging. This cultural change demands new types of educational programs in order to train a new types of professionals. Such educational programs will combine existing disciplines in new ways and will also include new emerging contexts, new technique and new practices.

This situation demands radical action that academia in general seems paralytically incapable of making. Very few academies seem to have recognized that the new techno-cultural context demands new educational programs, and even fewer have asked what form that educational program should take. If educational establishments ignore digital culture, it will continue to emerge in an ad hoc way, generated by informal groupings of autodidacts who have doggedly gained their training in spite of university structures and strictures. The net result would be that as those practices become culturally dominant, the institutions will become increasingly anachronistic, and the emerging forms will not have been able to avail themselves of the resources, intellectual and infrastructural, of the universities, to detriment of both parties.

It is evident to many in the field that the 'two cultures' syndrome remains a force to be reckoned with: institutions can rarely offer the depth and balance of training and resources appropriate to well rounded digital arts training, since such programs tend to be located either within arts institutions or within technical sciences institutions. This is a cultural crisis. New social and cultural contexts are developing rapidly and there is a shortage of appropriately skilled people to take on technical, educational, creative and leadership roles.

Like any new field, this field must begin (and has begun) as a radically interdisciplinary initiative. Radical interdisciplinarity does not sit comfortably in an institutional context with established disciplinary areas. The more established these disciplines are, the more difficult such interdisciplinarity will be. The more distant the source disciplines are from each other in the existing institutional context, the more difficult such interdisciplinarity will be.

If such initiatives exist under the disciplinary umbrella of their host disciplines they will succeed only partially in attending to the full range of practices which ideally are called for in the formation of this new type of professional. These limitations occur both on the level of technical practices and of theoretical approaches. Perhaps more importantly, they will be unable to negotiate the emergent problematics of interdisciplinarity. Thus, establishing administrative and philosophical autonomy is crucial: such programs should be located outside existing disciplinary structures.

Currently we find programs arising out of computer science and engineering contexts which tend to lack cognizance of both artistic practices and the body of theoretical study emerging out of media studies, science and technology studies, cultural studies and critical theory. The vast majority of media-technical classes in art institutions provide vocational style end-user training in existing tools and lack deep computer technical training. This simply perpetuates a destructive process. A community of tool builders must be trained who understand contemporary artistic practice and its theoretical bases, and understand the design and constraints of software and hardware tools.

We find educational programs arising in the humanities which exhibit unfamiliarity with artistic and technical practices. Clearly none of these is optimal. Only slightly better are programs which are unidirectionally interdisciplinary, on the arts-technical axis, the humanities-technical axis or the arts- humanities axis. These tend to produce technological 'Sunday painters', and artistically or technically naive theorists. The combination of all three areas at an equally rigorous level is ideal but rare.

In the visual arts the cultural change has been particularly powerful and has several aspects: on the one hand existing 'traditional' cultural practices (from violin to video) must negotiate the digital. Sometimes practices, such as video, are more or less entirely translated from analog to digital while maintaining (simulating) a transparency to previous analog techniques. Sometimes traditional practices find uses for IT (databases, websites, mailing lists, DTP, CAD). Sometimes traditional practices are drowned or abandoned (and lost) as a result of economic, rhetorical or social coercion.

These forms are transitional, 'skeuomorphs', like the 'horseless carriage'. New inherently digital cultural practices are emerging rapidly. The defining qualities of the new medium are interactivity, procedurality, real time computation. A new kind of educational program is required to prepare users and makers for these new contexts.


0.2 The Computational Intrusion

It is deeply unfortunate that as computers infiltrate into various areas of cultural practice, people not trained in the electro-technical disciplines are seemingly somewhat cowed by the simultaneously productivist and utopian marketing rhetoric of the industry. They seem to make a tacit assumption that the technology and its techniques are philosophically and ideologically neutral. But the objectivist/reductivist/rationalist stance is always undergirded by a set of axiomatic assumptions, otherwise known as beliefs.

In many cases, the procedures and inherent value systems reified in the technologies are at odds with existing, often long established and honed practices in those non-computational disciplines. The introduction of software tools (and their attendant hardware) often reify outdated methodologies and have a retrogressive and ossifying effect in the respective disciplines. This trend is exemplified in the macro-case of the reification of Cartesian dualism in the hardware-software dual, and the resultant reintroduction of the idea, riding piggyback on the technology, into disciplines which had dispensed with it.

While we are encouraged to believe that computers are so shiny and new that no previous human experience is relevant to the understanding of them, the computer is unavoidably the product of its history. The functionality of computers have been formed by military, bureaucratic, technical and commercial forces, not by cultural forces. This forms an unacknowledged background of seldom questioned assumptions which place inherent constraints on digital artistic practice. Only a process of bringing such background to consciousness and experimenting outside of it will offer new models for interaction. For example, at the very root of the computational mentality is the mechanistic input/output paradigm, adopted both metaphorically and technically from heavy industry. This paradigm is so naturalized in our industrial and post industrial culture that its artificiality is seldom noticed. As Paul Edwards notes: "A paradigm, once established, falls into the background of knowledge and appears to be little more than common sense, governing the production of truth (in Michel Foucault's sense) by constituting the obvious" The i/o paradigm achieved its paradigmatic force in the cybernetic discourses of the postwar years. It is foundational to programming theory and is isomorphic with the serial processing computer. But is it useful to frame artistic practice in terms of a linear process between 'input' and 'output'?

By failing to recognize the enormous power, both economic and rhetorical, of the industry, and the value-laden nature of the device, there is a great danger that valuable practices, sensibilities and methodologies will be jettisoned and lost because incompatibility with the machine makes them seem irrelevant or old-fashioned. Often this is done willingly by practitioners overwhelmed by such pressures, sometimes in the face of clear evidence that the new digital tools are incomplete or inappropriate to the context. There is a clear danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater: of rich traditions of practice are being lost.

Thoughtful evaluation of the significance and relevance of such practices is needed, in and of themselves, and because they may well turn out to have deep relevance to emerging forms and technologies, so their loss is potentially a loss to the larger culture and to technological development. An assessment of the nature of the machine, from the perspective of artistic practice, must be undertaken. And the tool design process must be addressed.

The existing conformation of media tools, developed as a result of a complex history of technological evolution, and attending largely to the simulation of preexisting forms in text, graphics (animation, video, digital photography) and sound, cuts, like an old fashioned razor blade, in two directions. One the one hand it does not support the quintessential aspects of the new medium, that is its procedurality, real time computational and interactive or responsive qualities. It also erodes the sensibilities and skills of existing disciplines which are experiencing colonization by digital media. For instance, a deep sensibility to the nature of experiential space and the qualities of materials may be developed in a traditional training in sculpture. The abandonment of training with physical materials and real space in favor of computer based CAD and virtual 3D tools may in fact erase from the community a skill base which may become critical in the building of usable immersive 3D environments and interfaces.


0. 3 The limitations of first generation digital tools in the arts.

The computer industry being what it is, 'computer art' tools are often been oriented towards an amateur market. Specialised tools tend to be generated by a hybrid open source community. Even is circles which acknowledge an expert artist class, the orthodoxy in the hardware and software engineering world is that engineers come up with great new tools so that artists can make great new works, but so often the artists disappoint by not realizing (in both senses of the word) those new great works nascent in the tools. Actually, the opposite is more generally true. Artists often model novel techno-cultural formations but, for economic and technical reasons, are forced to do so with inadeqaute technologies.

The conception within the engineering community of what kind of a tool an artist might want or need has often been anachronistic. What earthly good is graphical filter which simulates pointilism to an artist who, informed by feminist theory, is engaged in a visual deconstruction of the rhetorics of pharmaceutical companies developing and marketing reproductive technologies?

The conception in the mind of the engineer of what artistic practice is, must always constrain the kinds of tools which are envisaged. And that conception is always already a cultural construction (or perhaps in this case it is a construction in which culture has played only a walk-on part). This condition is symptomatic of the shortcomings of highly streamed technical education and in itself demonstrates that the field demands a deeply transdisciplinary pedagogical practice. The radical streaming of educational systems reinforce the 'two cultures' syndrome and provides students, regardless of the side of the campus they reside on, with a style of education which renders vast areas of human culture invisible or simply inexplicable.

It is entirely possible that due to precedents in the software field, the wrong model is applied in the development of 'artistic software'. Making a picture is generally not like shopping at the supermarket, it is not a process of combining fixed preprocessed components in a quasi-novel combination. The Fordist assembly-line model of combining, in a preordained production sequence, one component from a limited set of pre-manufactured items at each stage, is simply inapplicable to many generative methodologies in the arts.

The value system inherent in the tool might in fact be at cross purposes to the creative goals of the arts. Thus the technology might work at cross purposes to the intent of the work. Graphics software is generally designed with the application oriented design world in mind. So the final goals and formats are already set. This makes it inherently inappropriate for (some kinds of) arts research because they encourage certain ways of thinking and obstruct other directions of inquiry.

Generality or 'universality' in an algorithm is regarded as a virtue in computer science. But the virtue of generality has itself been generalized beyond the original mathematico-logical context into cultural domains. It is not clear that techniques for handling commercial transactions, for instance, are relevant to arts processes. The tools, though capable, might simply be inappropriate. Imagine training of soldiers in the art of war and offering them a cache of washing machines and ironing boards to do war with. The military does not do this because it is well funded to research and develop the right kinds of tools for its tasks. The arts takes field artillery and attempts to do its laundry with it. Not surprising then that many cutting edge digital artworks manifest a dissatisfying awkwardness. We are witnessing the emergence of a bizarre hybrid 'ordnance-art'.

Again, the solution to this impasse is the education of a class of artist- technicians who are deeply familiar with both the concerns of the arts and the possibilites of the technology.


Section 1. The importance of History.

As Georges Santillana noted, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Anti-historicist futurism was a disease which reached plague proportions in cyberculture and the IT industry in the 90's, its virulence has since abated somewhat, probably due more to the dot-com crash than the remedial effects of activist critical studies.


1.0 The big picture

The digital arts is a microcosm and an avant garde for the major sociocultural drama of our time: the digitization of (almost) everything. This phenomenon has been utopically described as a 'convergence'. It is more accurately a collision between a seemingly unstoppable force and a large but fairly squishy object. There is violence in this process, as per the adage 'Information Technology is a steamroller, and if you're not on the steamroller, you're part of the road'.

One might visualize this meeting as the grinding together of tectonic plates, tearing pieces off each other, sliding under and over each other, sometimes melting together in mutually generated heat. Working creatively at the intersection of IT and the Arts is like skateboarding along the crumbling crest of the collision of these two tectonic plates.

In the time of Francis Bacon, the 'Arts' and the 'Sciences' were seen as complementary flip sides of the same practice. But from the moment that science allied with industrial production in a market economy, engineering and its other (the arts and other non-rational human practices) have not only been diametrically opposed in western culture, but have effectively defined the nature of western culture by the flow of their mutual repulsion through time. The emergence in the modern period of movements such as arts and crafts, Russian constructivism, the Bauhaus and 'art and technology' serve to illustrate the normativity of that opposition.

This is not to propose, simplistically, that the sciences and technological practices are not culturally constructed, nor is it to say that the arts are simplistically romantic and non-rational. Nor is it to refuse that on some axis, technical invention and artistic invention are similar. But it would be equally naive to ignore, as many techno-futurists pretend to ignore, that the computer industry has not been a dominating economic force for the last quarter century (and looks like being so for another quarter century).


1.1 The cultural history of computing

Even a cursory examination will reveal the predominantly military history of the tools. Babbages' research would have been directly applicable for the British navy, Turing, Shannon and Zuse were all cryptographers. Arguably the first true 'computer': Eniac (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) was begun as a collaboration between the US Ballistics Research Laboratory in Aberdeen and the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, for military purposes (the firing tables) in 1943. So begins the uninterrupted history of computers (in the USA) as military hardware emerging from military funded research. Paul Edwards argues that AI and the Cold War mentality were born joined at the hip. Accordingly, AI assumes as a basic axiom that the world is inherently an unpredictable and dangerous place. Philip Agre notes accordingly that the basic premises of Artificial Intelligence are that the world is dangerous and surprising and that intelligence is problem-solving. He proposes the contrary, that the world is mostly benign and predictable, and that human action is largely routine. Even problem solving is mostly routine. Such perspectives are a valuable resource for us as we look at our tools and model paradigms for computing in the arts and culture.

Ten years ago we were persuaded that interactivity was a liberation from passive and broadcast media. Yet we may equally adequately frame it as a finely honed neo-Taylorist tool for extracting maximum productivity from humans interfaced to digital machine tools. Given all we know about the escalating cyborgisation of the soldier, is it not fair to describe the 'desktop' as a technology for minimizing response times of slovenly biological peripherals, i.e. you and me? As Lev Manovich showed a decade ago, all the key aspects of the interactive desktop interface-- the monitor, the keyboard, the pointing device, real-time interaction, not to mention networking -- were developed for the first large scale networked real-time computational system, the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) a system for detecting soviet ICBMs (inter-continental ballistic missiles), developed in military research labs at MIT. We are now conditioned to imagine that the output of an interactive system will be symbolic, textual and graphical, probably on a monitor. At this point is necessary to break open the desktop metaphor in order to explore the range of possible practices less constrained by paradigms of data-entry and command-and-control.

These brief examples suggest that there may be, inherent in the machine and the discourses around it, values or procedures which might not be maximally sympathetic with sensibilities of artistic practice. It may be useful to ask what kind or art or cultural practice is it possible to make with such tools, and by the same token, what kinds of practices are rendered impossible? 'Interactivity' itself is a military technology. When we apply it apply to cultural practice, it certainly establishes a particular relation to the machine. When that relation to the machine comes to represent cultural engagement, then culture itself has changed.


1.2 What can we learn from media history?

If we look at the histories of media technologies: radio, telephone, audio recording, TV, film, photography, even print media; we find that early in their history they are necessarily dominated by a technical agenda. But as they mature, all of them become cultural media, predominantly purveying cultural content, an predominantly valued for that content, not for the technologies they inhere. We have no evidence and no reason to suppose that the internet will buck this trend. At this point, the applications which have driven internet development have been: gaming, muds, moos, chat, porn, Napster, ebay. The original conception of the web, as a vehicle for the distribution of technical data among scientists still exists, but in terms of relative volume, it is a marginal practice. Currently, digital media, and in particular networked media, are preoccupied with technical issues, but we have every reason to believe that the internet, like all the other media technology, will rapidly become substantially a cultural domain. Cultural applications are the major drivers of technological development, as well as providing the bulk of media content. But expertise in the study of and the production of cultural content has until now been regarded as peripheral to the internet project. This situation is becoming increasingly absurd.

Given the transition from a technical agenda to a cultural agenda which is already in process, it is time to build a new model for the interrelation between the media arts and technical development. Fifteen years ago, it was progressive to recognize that within the arts, there were skills which could enhance the production of computational projects and commodities. That argument is still valid, but because of this transition it is now necessary to invert that argument and examine ways in which technical skills, methods and sensibilities can be harnessed to cultural research and cultural production.


1.3 the specific example of cinema

Through the second half of the C19th, an explosion of technological and artistic experimentation resulted in a diverse range of optical technologies and visual spectacles, including photography, zoetropes, stereographic projection, dioramas and other immersive and panoramic visual-kinetic spectacles. Out of this melee, cinema emerged at the turn of the twentieth century (though contrary to the teleology of conventional film studies dogma, it was not the sole nor the inevitable outcome).

Cinema became, arguably, the defining media technology of the twentieth century. Around it grew new a new art form with novel qualities (montage, reproducibility, simultaneous presentation in various locations, etc..). It generated a new range of social conventions and practices, its own new venues and it generated a vast range of new industries.

The melee of invention and development in digital media in the 1990's mirrors the melee of invention and design of opto-chemical image technologies in the late 1800s. Out of this explosion of experimentation will fall one or several new cultural forms for the 21st century, and it will supplant cinema in the same way that cinema supplanted the music hall variety show. It will form its own venues, its own aesthetics and its own social conditions.

Over the last decade a complex of real time multi-user online cultural environments which have emerged: muds, moos, chat, online gaming. These activities are now converging into a rich and novel form.

Though it is only a decade old, the game industry is already grossing more than the film industry in the US. Considering that Cinema has a century long history, and its marketing has been aided by US foreign policy support, while the gaming industry is scarcely a tenth of that age, with no such history of support, it appears that cinema may well have had its century.

So while one might confidently assert that these new cultural forms are likely to be interactive, networked and virtual, they are still developing, which is precisely why it is important to train creative thinkers capable of open ended envisioning and interdisciplinary problem solving with diverse skills in media art practice.


1.4 The elided history of artist-developed media technologies

There is a long tradition of artists modeling, with available technologies, prototypes or proofs-of-concept for technologies which are developed in industry and brought to market a decade or a generation later. The engineering community has remained unaware of this 'artist-inventor' constituency (except in a few rare cases), and their pioneering work, because the communities rarely meet and their values and motivations are orthogonal to each other. Some of the projects arising in the arts do find technico-commercial realization, though seldom with involvement of the artist. Sometimes the projects are reinvented, and in some cases there is evidence that artists ideas are borrowed without appropriate credit.

The computer industry, or at least its lobbyists, marketers and boosters (or 'evangelists' as they absurdly refer to themselves), has incorporated into its rhetoric a technofuturism which claims that digital tools are so new and so different that there are no useful lessons to learn from previous generations of technology. This position conveniently denies the relevance of history and permits the wanton avoidance of the hard work of cross disciplinary historical research.

The discipline of Art history has, until the eve of the new millennium, exhibited utter and willful ignorance of this work. It has turned its nose up and its back to anything that resonated with the dark satanic mills or the demeaningly commercial, and this is utterly consistent with the disciplines' identification with an aristocratic connoisseur class. The history of media arts, and particuarly this hybrid artistic and technological development, has remained unacknowledged, undocumented, and therefore unteachable in an organized way. This has had the result that practitioners and students are unaware of precedents and relevant prior research, and constantly reinvent the wheel. This self perpetuating lacunae impedes the development of the field. When this history is researched, documented and taught, the entire discipline will be advanced and its identity confirmed.


Section 2 The challenge to academia

2.1 New Career Paths

This much is certain: As digital technologies infiltrate increasingly diverse aspects of cultural practice and human culture at large is influenced by the presence of digital technologies, there will be novel, diverse and widely practiced new digital cultural forms and practices. These new forms will generate new industries:digital cultural industries will have a diversity of sociocultural impact and huge economic power. New career paths are arising which mix previously separate disciplinary areas. There is a profound need for a new type of professional in the entertainment industry, in education, in the computer industry and in the arts. There is a need for leaders, directors, managers, teachers, policy makers who are competent to make decisions which demand both a deep technological knowledge an d a deep knowledge of cultural history and practices.


2.2 the Nintendo generation.

While the existing generations of university faculty were naturalized to cinema or TV as the media forms of their childhood, the current generation of students are thoroughly naturalized to digital entertainments, to digital, networked, interactive cultural practices. There is nothing surer than the fact that as this generation matures, they will look for more mature cultural practices in the forms they are naturalized to. Some of them will want to make those more mature forms. There will be the Eisensteins and Shakespeares of interactive media.

Ten years ago it was unusual to find an incoming student, at undergraduate or graduate levels, whose interests balanced arts and engineering. Now it is increasingly common. Teenage musicianship these days usually includes programming and computer engineering as necessary aspects. Likewise, a young person who a decade ago might have been a photographer or filmmaker is today immersed in a world of codecs, network protocols, file formats and streaming media technologies. Computer gaming, perhaps the new cultural form which promises to be as portentous as cinema was 100 years ago, is a digital 'gesamtkunstwerk'. These entertainments already seamlessly mix the 'technical' and the 'artistic'. Young gamers can be skilled in 3D modeling, digital video, interactive narrative, scripting and programming, multimedia networking and computer engineering.

When these young people confront university admission, it is all too common for them to receive the advice: "this part of your practice is art and this part is engineering, you have to choose". Such advice rehearses and reinforces the two culture syndrome and does violence to young creative minds. For the student, as for the larger culture, the distinction between engineering and art is here artificial and anachronistic. Such students deserve an educational context which can foster such aptitudes with a rich and rigorous context. An institution which can embrace such people is engaged with contemporary culture and will help to shape the emerging culture.


2.3 The Role of Universities

Universities are presented with a responsibility and an opportunity in this emerging field: to perform their invaluable traditional role of enhancing the critical, aesthetic and technical sophistication of the students. The liberal arts research university, in particular, is eminently suited to supporting this mission, because it offers on a single campus the range of disciplinary specializations which are core to this new field.

But embracing this responsibility will necessarily demand some reconfiguration of existing structures in order to accommodate the new techno-social context. The necessarily multi-disciplinary nature of the training runs counter to the structure of most universities. Traditional administrative and disciplinary boundaries often prove to be an impediment to the kind of creative-technical practice which is necessary to develop new technologies and their cultural contexts. What is needed is new courses and new programs which fluidly and competently combine excellence in engineering and computational fields with fine-arts fields and support such combination with historical and theoretical analysis and critical expertise from the humanities.


2.4 The uses of Theory

A thorough training in the arts, under the umbrella of an arts worldview, with minimal technical training, is not the solution but the problem. A thorough training in the technical sciences, under the umbrella of that worldview,is no better. Nor is it adequate to equip students with high level technical training in both fields, as is done in some institutions which identify as vocational trainers for the media arts industries.

As a student I was advised that the task of art was not to get the right answer but to ask the right question. We are dealing with a novel techno-cultural complex. The challenge is imagining and articulating what would be the smart thing to do, the wise thing to do, the research that identifies lacunae and opportunities for new practices and new technologies, or which combines traditional sensibilities in new and enabling ways. And this challenge cannot be met by naive practitioners. As my earlier discussion of historical issues has hopefully made clear, that challenge can only be met by a researcher who has a solid grasp of the technological and social history of technical media and of the arts, and a theoretical training which covers these areas of endeavor, from a variety of perspectives. Only such a training will equip them to:

o analyze the philosophical and epistemological foundations which undergird these fields,

o deconstruct futuristic marketing rhetorics

o identify and negotiate the commonalities and the conflicts which arise

o posit new solutions, new projects, new experiments, new cultural forms, new research agendas.


2.5 Synopsis

From the forgoing discussion, we might extract the following requirements for an ideal program in digital media arts:

- Relevance to the contemporary techno-cultural context.

- Appropriate enskilling of a new generation of techno-cultural professionals in the arts, in industry in teaching and management.

- Relevance to the worldview and experience of incoming students.

- Abandonment of disciplinary divisions which are anachronistic and unproductive in the current context.

A requirement for the success of such educational programs is that they not exist wholly within a school of one of the parent disciplines. This field must develop its own world view, and while that will necessarily be built largely from the parent disciplines, a more neutral context is required so that the inherent problematics and contradictions can be negotiated.

A radically multi-disciplinary educational program is called for, in which technical training, artistic training and critical training are offered, all with academic rigor. Such programs must be led by faculty who can integrate these three areas in coherent and intelligent practice. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, such programs remain rare. Most institutions do not have the resources, technical or intellectual, to attempt such an enterprise. Often academic traditions and bureaucratic structures of large universities work against establishing cross disciplinary pedagogical collaboration.


2.6 The pragmatics of implementation

It is clear that all of this might present some difficulty to academic institutions. Some of them, such as art academies and technical colleges, simply do not have the range of professionals available to support the agenda. Without substantial reconfiguration and new hires, such institutions are unfortunately out of the running by virtue of their existing specialization. The liberal arts research university context emerges as the generally most viable context, especially where such institutions have strengths in relevant areas.

The inertia of large institutions will be an impediment to this agenda, and schools which have an expressed commitment to interdisciplinary initiatives will have an advantage. Yet there remains a critical gap between lip service to interdisciplinarity, and actual facilitation of that interdisciplinarity at the workface. The onus is upon high level administrators to recognize this need and facilitate the process.

In most cases, faculty taking on interdisciplinary initiatives face major academic and pedagogical challenges:

1. Academically, the usefulness of interdisciplinary approaches remains difficult to explain to established disciplines precisely because it demands working outside of the accepted value systems and methodologies of those disciplines.

2. The 'jack of all trades' problem. An interdisciplinarian will always be assailable by specialists from either or any of the disciplines s/he trespasses upon.

3. Interdisciplinary teaching remains difficult due to a lack of facilitating administrative procedures. It fals to the teacher to negotiate the interaction of department, school or college based administrative procedures.

4. The pedagogical challenge: negotiating a class context with students of at least two quite separate backgrounds and skill bases (i.e. teaching two classes at once, a performance in epistemological stereo).

Section 3. Conclusion

Interdisciplinarity became the buzzword on university campuses during the nineties. Unfortunately, in most cases there was little follow-through on the part of university administrations on a academic or administrative level beyond this lip-service. Meantime, western culture is in the process of adapting to the condition of the technosocial and technocultural. In the real world, numerous new digital cultural career paths are emerging for which degrees do not exist.

The moment of interdisciplinarity has passed for digital cultural practices. Small tentative interdisciplinary programs are no longer enough. To effectively address digital cultures, entire new departments and colleges are neccessary . In order to formulate pedagogical programs relevant to the new context, such entities must stand outside the discusive umbrellas of established fields such as humanties, arts, social sciences or engineering, but they must be able to draw upon the expertise resident in such fields.