Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wed Section. Media Discourse.

There are several components of Yoon's "The Representation of Mobile Youth in the Post-Colonial Techno-Nation of Korea," that I would like to push in order to raise questions and prompt further discussion. The first regards what Ellen discussed in her post, the panic of illiteracy surrounding the new languages of mobile phones. The second is the way Yoon his argument constructing a description of how a "discourse" emerges around mobile technology. The third stems from what I see as the politics of gender that is constructed around new media technologies and strategies in a divergent number of cultural studies texts concerning new or digital media.
Ellen's post assures us that from a psychological/neurological perspective the "panic" Yoon addresses may be just that, a panic. The english web slang of abbreviated terms such as brb and gtg processed as new language(s) may not exactly counter the Korean national panic surrounding the youth's adoption of "'aliens' language'" (6). The Korean language, as Yoon points out, "has been viewed as a key symbol of the imagined homogeneity and purity of Koreans, changes in and cultural threats to the Korean language via new technology reflect Koreans' dilemma in the process of globalization" (6). For Yoon and the other authors he sites the discursive production of the phone seems to contain this two-way functioning of what we may call "power". At one pole is the discourse surrounding the mobile phone as a technology of Korean redemption and key process in emerging as a global player. The "dilemma" in this process is the weakening of traditional structures such as the devaluation of the Korean national language. I find this battle between the national language of Korea which seeks not to change with the introduction of a new medium that Yoon points to through his example from educational content for mobile devices and what he calls "new forms of literacy" fascinating. Why does Yoon leave these new forms of literacy for the majority out of his argument? Is it a result of his focus on "the local repositioning of mobile phones, rather than the repositioning of locale by mobile phones" (1)?
While I do not want to make too much of a theoretical jump when it may be unnecessary I would like to point to the similarities in both the language and framework sketched out in Foucault's History of Sexuality: Volume 1 and Yoon's article. Foucault's work considers the discursive production of "sex," that took place in the 18th century as a process in the formation modern nation-state. "Sex" was regulated through the proliferation of discourses and institutionalization or medicalization of its terminology and of individuals who did not directly conform to what thereby became produced as the "norm." I find this particularly interesting because I feel that the discourse produced surrounding the "mobile phone" is constructed in the same, or at least a similar, way. There are those that are produced by the discourse surrounding this technology as the "norm" of consumers and those that are aberrant (teenagers, women, etc.). I think this can be even pushed further noting how Foucualt's historical and sociological work on his subject leads him to the notion of biopower, a power that functions not like the sovereign's ability to take life but the state's power to control the body and regulate it through aspects of control. Is what Kyongwon Yoon describes as a technology that is "virtually a part of the body, in that it is deeply embedded into everyday life," the site at which a new discourse and therefore a functioning of the biopolitical emerge?
Finally, I think that it is interesting that both advertising images and newsmedia, what Yoon equates with "the dominant system of representation," present the mobile phone as "feminine" (3). Do you think that this construction or imagination of a technology can be seen to fall along the lines of the screen being written as the "feminine" pole of new media technologies to the hardware of masculinity?

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