The past few decades have witnessed a tremendous proliferation of digital technology. References to a techno-utopia where knowledge would be available to each and all seemed to signal the possibility of positive social and cultural change while acknowledging a fundamental flaw. Digital technologies’ commitment to making knowledge accessible to all would supposedly produce a general and universal benefit and well-being and this was partly realized but digital technologies did in no way result in a techno-utopia.

It has become apparent that besides letting vast amounts of knowledge accessible to ever more people, digital technologies are also powerful tools producing a peculiar kind of public ignorance, one that seems to proliferate amidst ever multiplying information and knowledge available in today’s digitalized environment.

Here, ignorance does not necessarily or only refer to a lack of knowledge or a misrecognition but to a lack of assimilation when faced with an enormous wealth of information, some of which may be too traumatic or difficult for us to deal with. Alternately, contemporary ignorance may be a perverse kind of delegation where we let our technological gadgets process the knowledge while we relish in ignorance. The now classical example of this is the culture of downloading where we always consume much less than we accumulate. It is as if the machines do the work of knowing, reading or watching in our stead.

Ignorance is increasingly being supported by the images of today's information technology. It is vast, connected and controlling all aspects of our lives. The algorithmic governance, artificial intelligence, and expertized knowledge from art to science, to politics, and to popular culture create a fear of knowing where ordinary people feel they are inferior to the vast knowledge and capacities to process it. There are things that we may know, we like to know, we need to know, we have the right to know and we have to know; as well as “not to know” respectively. However, it seems that the contemporary culture of ignorance is positively trending and becoming a commonplace ideological stance all over the World.

a’21 amberNetworkFestival takes its cue from this commonplace about our technology-driven present and invites all interested people to participate and reflect on our future.

ed. Ekmel Ertan, Nafiz Akşehirlioğlu

Extended version