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Episode 1

Digital Human, Series 2 Episode 1 of 7

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 01 October 2012

Aleks Krotoski returns with a new series of explorations of our digital world.

In the first in the series Aleks looks at how different cultures are preserving their identity in the face of the homogenising effects of technology.

There's a fear that the digital world will make us all the same. But that doesn't seem that well founded if you look at how widely differing cultures are using technology to express their identity and values. We look at the music sharing culture of Mali in West Africa as explored by musicologist Chris Kirkley and hear from the vibrant and intoxicating atmosphere of the mobile phone music market in Mali's capital Bamako. Back in the UK we look at the interesting way immigrant communities maintain their cultural ties through technology and the unexpected effect this has on the growth of immigrant communities.

Aleks also talks to explorer in residence Robin Hanbury-Tenison about his thoughts on how technology might be undermining cultures. Does he see the spread of digital as a new form of cultural imperialism?

Producer Peter McManus

Other areas of the digital world to be explored in this series include:

How opinion and influence spread in a digital world

What all this new technology means for how we learn?

Do we always know what technology is for and ultimately what it wants?

Has the digital world changed our perceptions and discussions of death?

Music Played

4 items
  • Chris Kirkley - Mali Music sharing culture

    Chris Kirkley  - Mali Music sharing culture

    Chris talks to Aleks about his exploration of sound and music in the Sahel region of Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, and Niger.

    Travelling with his guitar and a digital recorder Chris spent over a year in West Africa. Not only did he find the authentic music he was looking for but also new expressions of traditional music using pirated pc software and techniques like auto tune.

    And technology has changed not just the way music is made. The use Africa has made of the mobile phone is well known, but what Chris saw was how Bluetooth wireless transfer was creating a unique network of music spreading across West Africa. Music is shared person to person in a physical social way not just downloaded impersonally the way most music is shared in the developed world. For Chris it said a lot about the culture of the places he visited; their sense of community and attitudes to sharing everything.

    Chris's Blog and links to music
  • Danny Miller

    Danny Miller is an anthropologist and author of numerous books on culture and consumerism as well as social media and technology.


    Danny's webpage at University College London
  • Pedro J. Oiarzabal

    Pedro is a researcher specialising in the study of digital technology on diaspora communities. Based at the University of Deusto in Bilbao Pedro has used his native Basque culture as the basis for much of his research.

    He blogs about Basque online culture at:

    Pedros university webpage
  • Death of diaspora?

    Death of diaspora?

    The Merseyside Caribbean centre was established by migrants in 1950s and 60s. Spending more and more time closed it seems as if it’s no longer serving the purpose of providing a welcome for those newly arrived from the islands. Has the digital world created such strong connections that migrants don't need this sort of resource anymore?

  • Kaba Blon

    Kaba Blon

    Kaba Blon is one of the bands Chris Kirkley has kept in contact with. Their music can be found in some of the collections of Mali music Chris has helped get released.

  • The market in Bamako, Mali

    The market in Bamako, Mali



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