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Remote Control: The Rise of Electronic Cultural Policy

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN New York University - Department of Culture and Communication


    Since the early 1990s, the United States has been formulating, executing, and imposing a form of "electronic cultural policy." This phrase means two things: a stategenerated set of policies to encourage or mandate design standards for electronic devices and dictate a particular set of cultural choices; and the cultural choices themselves, which have been embedded in the design and software of electronic goods. The goal of electronic cultural policy has been to encourage and enable "remote control," shifting decisions over the use of content from the user to the vendor. The intended macro effects of such micro policies are antidemocratic. Their potential has created the possibility of a whole new set of forms of cultural domination by a handful of powerful global institutions. Yet so far, the actual consequences of these policies have been different from those intended, igniting activism and disobedience on a global scale.
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