We are increasingly conscious of living in an era whose scale, dimensions and implications we do not fully comprehend. 'Interactivity', 'virtual reality' and 'global communications' are some of the most obvious dimensions of this new reality. Its implications include cross-media acquisitions and mergers by players like Murdoch, Viacom and Disney, and major questions about the future of the printed word and reading.
This book does not attempt to offer a broad survey of the new digital age in all its aspects. Instead, it restricts its questions to cultural standards and the issue of quality in media. Culture First! argues that the proper study of culture is normative; and that the proper, and neglected, purpose of cultural studies should be the nurturing of normative argument and judgement. This purpose can be better pursued if we return to the distinction between our 'best self' and our 'ordinary self' when thinking about cultural questions; if we seek to articulate and think rigorously about aesthetic and ethical standards; and if we recognize the specific cultural values of the printed word and reading as an activity and that the printed word is more than just a medium.