Landscapes of Global Capital
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Introduction
Feed the children
Corporate paternalism
The cure
High tech classroom
Techno-metaphor
Child prodigy
The obnoxious visionary
Unfettered imagination
We care
Harmonious music
Cynicism of legitimation
You can't buy love
Harmony of technology

In The Disappearance of Childhood, Neil Postman (1984) argued that television erased the boundary between the social categories of childhood and adulthood. Since television requires no obvious skills to understand it, nor does it make complex demands, it does not structurally segregate audiences based on ability to decipher in the same way that literacy does. The mythos surrounding computer technology is that it is a technology for the young -- for those whose synapses and cultural preferences are still malleable. Seemingly, technology and software changes so rapidly that a generation associated with a level of computer literacy turns over in two to three years. It is not surprising then that representations of computers literacy are associated with the youthful, yet-already motivated, minds of children.

In this Microsoft ad we meet Dan Henry from Lusk, Wyoming. Dan wants to be a rancher. But times have changed. Traditional ranching has given way to computerized feeding schedules. Dan teaches his father how to use Excel spread sheets in order to save the family ranch and be able to continue ranching for another generation.
Timmy presents his high tech science project to his. Timmy's high tech knowledge is met with skepticism by his teacher, "Timmy, did you get some help for your project?" Timmy explains in high tech jargon that is well beyond the understanding of his teacher and other viewers how he used "Digital DNA" from Motorola.
Hewlett-Packard constructs a montage of children demonstrating their outlandish 'inventions.' This permits Hewlett-Packard to stress the uninhibited child's mind in which the unadulterated creative impulse exists. And like these children the same creative impulse lurks in this corporation. Hewlett-Packard's tagline is simply "Invent."
In a Covad commercial a series of children speak in adult-accented voices. Classical music and formal setting further reinforce a sense of sophistication. They study molecular division, Johann Sebastian Bach, and butterflies. The ad ends with a joke of a young boy caught 'studying' pornography. The high speed connection that Covad offers erases the adult/child boundary.

Like television the Internet further breaks down the barriers between adults and children making the realm of knowledge associated with adulthood available to children. Moreover, these ads represent children as prodigies unleashed by the power of technology. In fact, a reversal takes place in which the child is now smarter or at least better equipped than the adult. Computer literacy becomes a form of cultural capital that further collapses the social hierarchies built upon age.


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Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey