Saturday, December 4, 2010

Archaology takes a stab

Sir, we've found a eminent of what appears to be "global society", composed of a little integration, imperialistic sentiment, and a whole lot of optimism.-myself.

In Armand Mattelart's "An Archaology of the global era": constructing belief," the world of sarcasm against political rhetoric seems to have a home. Mattelart sees globalization as nothing more than a new label for the concepts of capitalism and unity of the world. Claiming instead that those burying ideas of the past are simply building up oil deposits from which the rise of technology focused claims gain their fuel. These "grave-diggers", as Mattelart labels them have forgotten the claims and statements of the past that echo their own, concepts such as: the "global village" (1962) and Worldism (early 1900s) but instead follow Henry Ford's statement "History is bunk".

Mattelart takes his archaeology sarcasm a step further to reveal the corruption through incorporation of basic American principles into corporate mottos. Take the concept of "freedom of speech" and "freedom" in general, in Mattelart's rhetoric they become "freedom of commercial-speech" and "freedom of trade" becoming synonymous with corporate interests. He notes that freedom has become the beacon of capitalism, glowing for all to see, whether they wish to follow its route home or extinguish it all together.

Further, Mattelart picks apart globalization's bones with a finer brush then most noting its well put intentions that have worsened things for not just those that are buying into the ideology but those that sell it. The main focus is the creation of the growing digitial divide, the benefits and downfalls of protest as it becomes more complex and perhaps even more difficult. Lastly, he notes the methods by which corporation and capitalistc mechanisms ignore the methods of human exploitation who are the mechanisms that mobilize consumption and technological output.

So before we host globalization and the "global society" we claim to live in, on to a new podium or alter for worship, lets not forget what is below the surface fueling this radiating ideology. The long forgotten claims and ideologies that were pumped into society and then buried or discarded not so long ago as ancient history, with the rise of this "alternate" and newly trans-formative claim. Long live the past, as it may be our future.

Wiki Power!?

Not to keep harping on Wikileaks, but...

Wikileaks is normally not something I would be interested in, but I think its very poignant timing that this news is breaking at the end of our course. You couldn't really ask for a better cumulation of the concepts we studied this semester. What I'm most interested in is just how much the most recent wiki "leak" has and/or could hurt the US soft power. Maybe its just because I'm paying more attention to it in the news now, but it seems that this diplomatic leak is making a bigger splash than the one about the Iraq war. All countries do bad things in war, but now the US's dirty little laundry is out there... Our burn book got published and we just won the mean girl contest.
If our public diplomacy over the past 10 years has been all about putting a more synchronized, "real" image of the US out there, the recent leaks are going to be a huge hurdle, that Mrs. Clinton and the folks at the state department are already struggling to overcome. What better an example of the emerging influence of ICT's in the global political sphere. Some secret funded upstart website had almost a more than instantaneoues impact on global politics. Even before it leaked the documents, the anticipation was making headlines and putting governments on the defensive. I'm sure this is just the beginning of what wikileaks and other self appointed whistle blowers and going to be able to do, and I think heads of state are more than a little afraid of it. I'm just glad I chose this career path.

Friday, December 3, 2010


When I heard of the Wikileaks State Department cables release, my first thought was, oh no, we need to brace for the worst, thinking what a embarrassment this was going to be. But then I thought, maybe this is a good thing, one of those that shifts those worn out ways of institutionalized governance. Truth be told, I feel that if something were going to change, it would have to be with a big blow, and that is Assange’s mission, I think, apart from being a little on the creepily vindictive side. He openly stated the he was pleased to hear Netanyahu’s comment that leaders should discuss in public what they discuss in private. I wonder what Netanyahu’s take would have been if he had lost face with the cable instead of his Middle Eastern counterparts.

When I started to think about the consequences, I thought about the reality of how leaders and diplomats act when it comes to talking with each other. Surely, if you were going to show any willingness to cooperate and negotiate with others with whom you are actually or even historically at odds, wouldn’t it be necessary to do so behind closed doors? Leaders always want to show zero weakness to their own people and save face. That means displaying that you are unwilling to waver on any points. What I wonder is, if there were never any negotiations and concessions behind closed doors, would any of it ever really get done?

I am all for being able to have these conversations in the public eye, but is it realistic? I can see that if there were a big shift in PD, and the new information era of transparency served to convinced everyone that giving a little and taking a little is part of any workable relationship, then it would be easy. What are the chances that everyone’s paradigm to how we have always done international relation will change?

This administration takes a bit of heat for being too “apologetic.“ Would everyone be able to strike that balance between being capable of working with others, and keeping their constituents at ease?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

200 Pound Beauty

Entertainment-Education is a complex field that walks the tightropes between engaging the audience and instilling or disproving cultural norms. In walking this tightrope failure can be a way of life and it seems many messages turn south causing what is promptly labeled as the "Archie Bunker Effect"(Singhal, 7-9). Occuring when the character that is suppose to get the audience to rebuke the support of a sterotype actually reinforces it.

Thinking about the successful case of the show Jasoos Vijay in India covered by Catterjee and Frank and the way in which dramas can inflict value judgements and help overcome anti-setiment, I wondered if it could be applied to a certain Korean Drama. The drama, 200 pound beauty, aired in 2006 it appears to be a educative drama gone south. The story centers around a woman by the name of Hanna, a behind the scenes singer for a pop idol (who can't sing) who undergoes head to toe plastic surgery for the sake of love and a boost in confidence. If this combination wasn't potent enough, the drama ends with Hanna, now pop-idol material herself, denouncing her "all natural" branding to her fans and yet still being accepted for her dramatic change.

It is this kind of play on norms through captivating (or not) narrative dialogue that throws this drama's creditability for a loop. If we can consider this drama a form of entertainment-education media, then would it be a failure for enforcing an already growing concern of young urban Korean woman's current trend/obsession with plastic surgery? Or can it be viewed as a moral lesson that gets girls in the Urban areas of Korea speaking out about changing themselves for others and the consequences of such ?

More on Drama

FIFA Results- Soccer made Soft Power?

Soccer Link

In last weeks reading of Joseph Nye's " Public Diplomacy and Soft Power" and Corman, Tretheway and Goodall's " A 21st Century Model for Communications in the Global War of Ideas" we learned of soft power and the message influence model that the United States clings to. Soft power defined by Nye is " the ability to affect others to obtain the outcome one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment"(pg2). If this definition is taken at face value then the United States has a long way to go to recover and re-live its glory days gone by, as it loses its second consecutive battle to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup to no other than Qatar.

The reasoning behind the decision was the desire to hold the game for the first time in Eastern Europea which will continue the FIFA organizations goal of expanding the sport worldwide. But where does this blow to ones pride, leave the United States? Well it seems to suggest that the United States conventions of just getting its message across in a "consistent" manner, over and over again till they agree with us, is crying out for a re-evaluation as suggested by Corman, Tretheway and Goodall. The United States can no loner rely on the soft power it gained during the cold war to bail it out now, it seems to have forgotten somewhere after the Berlin Wall fell the importance of maintaining a good image and what the meaning of a message actually constitutes.

Perhaps if the United States took up the Pragmatic Complexity Model and maybe even a few hints from its Arabic neighbors it might learn that a message is a two-way flow of information. In order to win the game whether on the field or in the political arena understanding and reacting to your teammates perception is just as important as keeping an eye on the ball.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Muppet Ambassadors?

In order to determine whether Sesame Street is a form of public diplomacy, we must first establish which lens to view public diplomacy through. If public diplomacy is citizens—or in this case Muppets—acting on behalf of a political body to establish interpersonal connections, then no, Sesame Street is not a vehicle for public diplomacy. However, if public diplomacy is measured by outcome, and not intention, then I dare say that Elmo and friends are cultural ambassadors. Their mission is to act on behalf of their audience to educate them—equipping them with lessons on literacy, counting, cultural awareness, friendship, self-esteem, kindness, and tolerance. Providing youth around the world with an educational outlet, emphasizing morals and values (both local and shared) is one of the best forms of diplomacy. There are some hearts and minds that Big Bird can touch that a government will never be able to—so let the show go on, and tell everyone how to get to, how to get to Sesame Street.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks and FP

Since everyone is talking about the Wikileaks, I'm going to add my two cents. I think one of the most significant Wikileaks had to do with a bunch of the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, urging the United States to attack Iran. All of this information, which should have been kept secret, shows an interesting side of the United States relationship with the Arab countries in the Middle East. It seems that in spite of many of these countries spending millions on weapons and defense from the U.S. government, they still want the United States to fight their battles for them in that there appears to be a concern in the region about Iran being a dominating player. Of course much of this is related to the nuclear issue, but it shows that the Arab states want the United States to play the role of the police officer in the region and to fight their battles for them in order to ensure a balance of power that would keep Iran as a weaker player in the region. This information which is now in the public domain reflects to some extent, United States foreign policy in the region purely as an attempt to contain Iran -- which I doubt is to really protect the Arab states (whose political systems do not represent the democracy and development we are trying to spread to the region) but to make sure that we (the West) does not have to deal with Iran as a formidable opponent -- which they would be if they had nuclear weapons. At the same time, this shows the influence that transnational advocacy networks in the Arab states -- and also for that matter, their Israeli "enemy" -- have as a common interest in prevent Iran from becoming a power in the region.

Our Social Reality

In “A 21st Century Model for Communication in the Global War of Ideas” (Corman et al.), the authors do a good job of pointing out the shortcomings of the classic transmitter/receiver model, which they refer to as the Message Influence Model. Their call for a new strategy that takes into account the complexities of the “a social reality” in which we live today is a much needed step forward in communication strategy. “Members of the system, routinely and often unconsciously, work to preserve the existing framework of meaning. To accomplish this they interpret messages in ways that “fit” the existing scheme, rather than in ways that senders may intend.” (pages 7-8)

This would explain why many recent attempts by the U.S. to explain its values abroad is interpreted as it trying to impose its culture on others. We need to remember that we no longer live in the post WWII euphoria of the American Dream. Today, a lot of people remember our dodgy cold war era military interventions and one
sided trade policies. If you ask people in Latin America if the U.S. can lead in environmental policy, many will be quick to point out that we never signed on in Kyoto, so how dare we try.

To summarized their proposed Pragmatic Complexity Model they argue that in communication between parties A and B:

-The success of A’s behavior depends not only on external conditions, but on what B does and thinks.
-What B does and thinks is influenced by A’s behavior as well as B’s expectations, interpretations, and attributions with respect to A.

Moreover, if you have a B that is fed up with A, they are less likely to want to listen and more sensitive in misinterpreting any message from A as condescending or irrelevant to them.

Is this where America stands now? Has American policy in the last sixty years worn out the welcome of communication? Can we ever go back to having an audience willing to listen and interpret the way we would like?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More in the world of wikileaks

Thought this might be an interesting article...

WASHINGTON — The online website WikiLeaks says it will go ahead with the release of hundreds of thousands of classified State Department documents in defiance of U.S. demands not to publish the files.

The WikiLeaks website appeared to be inaccessible, and WikiLeaks said in its Twitter feed that it was experiencing a denial of service attack. Nevertheless, WikiLeaks said that publications in the U.S. and Europe would print the leaked diplomatic cables even if it could not.

The group's founder, Julian Assange, also tells the U.S. ambassador to Britain that WikiLeaks won't bow to Washington's demands.

The Obama administration has been bracing for the release for the past week. Top officials have notified allies that the contents of the diplomatic cables could prove embarrassing because they contain candid assessments of foreign leaders.

The State Department has warned that the expected release of classified U.S. documents would endanger countless lives, jeopardize American military operations and hurt international cooperation on global security issues.

The department's top lawyer urged Assange in a letter on Saturday to keep classified documents off the website, remove records of them from its database and return any material to the U.S. government.

Lawyer Harold Koh said the department has learned that WikiLeaks provided 250,000 documents to The New York Times, The Guardian of Britain and German magazine Der Spiegel.

Some media reported the news outlets may post stories on the documents as early as Sunday and said they have also been given to newspapers Le Monde in France and El Pais in Spain.

The U.S. government, which was informed in advance of the contents, has contacted governments around the world, including in Russia, Europe and the Middle East, to try to limit any damage. Sources familiar with the documents say they include corruption allegations against foreign leaders and governments.

Koh wrote that publication of the documents would "place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals" as well as military initiatives and cooperation between countries to confront problems from terrorism to pandemic disease.

The lawyer also rejected what he said was Assange's request for more information about individuals who might be at risk from publication of the documents.

"We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials," Koh wrote.

Past releases by WikiLeaks, founded by Assange, an Australian-born computer hacker, contained sensitive information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the United States had said compromised national security and put some people at risk.

Anticipating the fallout from the latest publication, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy wrote a letter to the German Sunday weekly Bild am Sonntag that the WikiLeaks revelations would be an embarrassment.

"Regrettably we will soon have something new to see: alleged confidential diplomatic messages from U.S. embassies around the world, including mine. It's hard to say what effect it will have, but it will at the very least be uncomfortable -- for my government, for those mentioned in the reports, and for me personally as American Ambassador to Germany."

The newspaper reported that some German politicians were severely judged in the reports.

On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey told reporters he was worried about the documents coming out.

"WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people," he said.

The State Department letter echoed concerns expressed by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, airing on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on Sunday.

"I would hope that those who are responsible for this would, at some point in time, think about the responsibility that they have for lives that they're exposing and the potential that's there and stop leaking this information," Mullen said.

In October, WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. military files chronicling the Iraq war.

In a Twitter message last week, WikiLeaks said its forthcoming document release would be seven times larger than the Iraq war cache. A person familiar with the documents said that comparison was based on the total number of words.

An item that was apparently posted prematurely, and then removed, from the Der Spiegel website over the weekend, said the new WikiLeaks cache constituted of just over 250,000 State Department cables and 8,000 "diplomatic directives."

© 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Facebook vs. FARC

“A powerful counter-movement has emerged that has demoralized the remaining terrorist group, the FARC. The origins of the new force were not in government or civil society. Instead, a young unemployed computer technician named Oscar Morales spontaneously started a Facebook group that grew quickly to more than 400,000 members. The group, called One Million Voices Against the FARC, put 12 million people in the streets in a single day in 190 cities around the world -- just two months after it was set up.”
-James Glassman, Public Diplomacy 2.0

I remember that day. The parade was marching down 7th Avenue. I had bought a couch which I was getting delivered to my house but the driver could not cross the closed off street, so the two of us had to carry it over our heads across the march (pretty comical) and up the two blocks to my apartment.

Oscar Morales did not spontaneously start up a face book group that changed the course of history with the FARC. His reaction was a reflection of the sentiment there at the time. The entire country was pissed off over an incident with a little boy named Emmanuel who the FARC lied about having in their possession. HOWEVER, I would argue that the state of the FARC at that point was completely debilitated. They "had" Emmanuel, and they had Ingrid Betancourt, they were forced to lie about one and then the other was freed in a dramatic rescue by the military who had infiltrated the FARC up to ten years before. While there are still thousands of displaced persons in Colombia, and yes, people still go missing and get kidnapped with some regularity, the years of being terrorized by the FARC are long gone. Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t leave Bogota in a car because you were sure to be at great risk. Then people started driving in caravans. In 2006, two years before the facebook group, I drove by myself out of the city to meet a friend in a nearby town with zero fear of threat.

My point is not that Morales’s face book group was not a huge success, simply that the response to it was a reflection of civil society. To say that it created a counter-movement is a big miscalculation. Fortunately, Glassman makes this point later.

“.. public diplomacy – whether 1.0 or 2.0 – is only one tool for achieving foreign policy and national security goals. One blogger wrote last week that “starting a Facebook group called 'Terrorism Sucks!' and getting a bunch of people to join it isn't exactly winning the War on Islamic Fundamental Militancy“…In fact, we never said soft power was a substitute for hard power. It is an essential complement.”

You want a good experiment on the effect of social media? Try this exact same thing in Cd. Juarez today. If you get 12 million people out on the street and your curb the cartels’ morale, then facebook is a winner. My bet is that you don’t. And there is no FARC in Bogota to fight you. But would there be a blood bath in the streets in Juarez. There is, every weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Defender of Responsibiliy--Anderson Cooper?

This week the New York Times Opinion articles were spangled with excellent features—Omaha’s local businessman (Buffet) gets a special shout-out here. Nevertheless, the article I want to focus on is Thomas Friedman’s Too Good to Check. Friedman uses one of Twain’s most appropriate diplomacy quotes: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” The article does not go on to mention Nye’s version of public diplomacy—but the message is there. Friedman applauds CNN’s Anderson Cooper for dispelling the myth that Obama was going to spend $200 million (yes, taxpayer dollars) a day on his South-East Asian trip, and would supplement the vacation with 34 navy liners and a 3,000 man team. These “facts” are not only appalling, but also frightening in how quickly they travelled. These momentum-building details were splashed across all mediums of news without anyone bothering to check their validity.

So thank you Anderson Cooper for protecting our soft power. You not only assured Americans and foreigners alike that Obama is not frivolously throwing money at our greatest job-source competition, but you proved—at least momentarily—that we care about reporting. Many foreigners have strong opinions regarding America’s freedom of press, and our ability to air just about anything we like is our right—but airing the ‘right’ things, well that my friends is our responsibility. No wonder Americans have developed the paradox of plenty and ADD rates are going through the roof—we have too much information coming at us, and we aren’t even guaranteed that it’s accurate! I do understand that journalists and broadcasters take ethical vows. I am not attempting to insinuate that these acts are malicious. I am trying to point out, for the sake of our Public Diplomacy, lets at least be sure to cross-or-double check information before sharing it with the world. We have enough reasons for people to argue with us—let’s at least limit them to legitimate ones.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Al Jazeera Factor

The Gilboa Powers article for this coming week quoted a man as saying that he watches Al Jazeera because it represents the truth and reality of events. Taken with my grandfather’s opinion of Al Jazeera as a terrorist organization, aka “Jihad TV”, the difference in interpretations of this media outlet are striking and to me demonstrate the viewers importance in perpetuating and creating media bias. Even Powers tempers the “truth” aspect of Al Jazeera crediting its positive reputation to the even worse reputations of other corrupt Arab news organizations. Kind of like comparing CNN news to Fox in my opinion, although again if this were my grandpa it would be the other way around… One is only the truth because the other is not.
Powers tries to present Al Jazeera as an important transnational actor, and I too would argue that it is, now more than ever. But in light of the criticism it widely receives in the US, is its transnational might dependent on region? It is arguably a glue factor for Arab countries and Arab diasporas, but how far does that “trans” go? The article really just confused me more than anything. Al-Jazeera is supposed to be a political actor, and has strong influence in the Arab region. It caused 6 nations to withdraw their ambassadors from Doha. Does this mean Al Jazeera was doing its job in exposing unjust practices in those countries? Maybe. But does that do anything to instigate actual political change in those areas? I think this is where the separation of media outlets and other transnational actors would come into play. The need for viewers is always going to trump other priorities. But then again what transnational actors need for followers isn’t going to win out. Is Al Jazeera really triumphing for an alternative representation of the news, putting stories out there that would otherwise be oppressed? Or is it the Bill O’Riley of the Arab world, stirring up controversy to draw viewers in and over to their side of the truth?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Legitimacy of the CNN effect

As someone who checks Google News regularly, I can definitely relate to how the CNN effect has changed the consumer's expectations on how fast news should get to you as a consumer. Google News updates by the minute on all sorts of different issues from news sources all over the world. Personally, I really like the up to date news. However, I've noticed if you are following a breaking story -- almost all the news sources have the same information. It also makes it so that the consumer has not only incomplete information, but often imperfect information since it is coming out so quickly that most of the time the story is not even fully formed.

This has profound implications for shaping how people think of things as they happen in the world. If you are not checking the media constantly, you may only have part of the story as opposed to if news was reported, for example, once a day on an evening news show. Especially in countries where the media that comes out is to some extent limited, which is most developing countries with totalitarian regimes. I think this is in spite of all the other informal news avenues we have -- such as social networking sites like facebook and twitter. However, there is only so much legitimacy in what comes out on these sites as well, because you are relying on individuals who are not accountable to larger organizations for information. This can be good and bad, in that there is less incentive to edit what is actually happening on the ground, but can also result in much inaccurate information that the consumer has to decide whether or not is actually a legitimate source of information.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spinning Cigarettes

Robin Brown’s piece “Spinning the War” was pretty spot on in terms of illustrating media importance in shaping political decisions and outcomes, with the specific example of how the war on terror became what it is today. I’m personally interested in health communications and I think that in some way, the new cigarette health warnings can fit into Brown’s general argument. The FDA has recently required cigarette manufacturers to use more graphic images as part of the mandatory health advisories on cigarette cartons. Some of these images include shriveled babies and a man smoking with a hole in his throat. The decision obviously has some implications for cigarette advertising, but whether or not the new images, meant to shock potential buyers, will have an effect on sales remains to be seen. Graphic warning images are new in the United States, but not elsewhere in the world, and haven’t seemed to faze already habitual smokers. I do however think the FDA’s ruling is a step in the right direction in combating smoking in the United States. The cigarette industry has the money to be a strong government lobbiest and these new labels are at the least a strong showing in the attempt to balance their might. I also think the media is in part responsible for the passing of these new requirements. Anti smoking campaigns, especially the TRUTH campaign, have been given more attention and more air time in the past decade and cigarette ads have been given some restrictions as to where they can be published. Media may not have been the driving factor in the passing of the more graphic images, but it will be important in how the images are received and the extent their impact will have actually deterring people from consuming cigarettes. And for the proponents of even more strict cigarette regulation in the future, this is where I think media spin and politics, especially the politics of cigarette money will come into play. It’s not happening in the main stream right now, but maybe after a while of looking at shriveled babies, the war against smoking is in the cards.

Universal Values and China

The class discussion on Liu Xiaolo is such a perfect example of just how complex cross-cultural communication can be. The question becomes one of deep seeded beliefs and ways of life, often ones that we are blind to. I know that before in this class we have questioned the idea of “individualism” versus “collectivism”, saying that people love to boil the west v. east cultural struggle to these opposites often too easily. But it is worth questioning the idea of whether or not we are too quick to assume that there are “universal values” everyone can agree with. Read about this debate in China here.

Are there such things as universal values? Is it our right to question China from afar? Saudi women’s rights? The Indian caste system? Are we going to take on one culture at a time for not adhering to our system of values?

Here is an interesting quote from the Economist:
Mr Liu writes positively about the growth of civil society in China. But he is scathing about the willingness of the Chinese public to bend to party authority, so long as the party continues to provide opportunities (no matter how underhand) to get rich. Mr Liu is despondent about the prospects for a public push for change in China’s authoritarian system. “The repression by the dictatorial authorities is, admittedly, one of the reasons, but the indifference of the populace is an even greater cause,” he says. -The Economist

Is the “indifference of the populace” enough to clue us in to the will of the people? At least the majority? Isn’t that a democracy?

Would love to know your thoughts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Al-Jazeera's viewership

I think the Al-Jazeera effect has had its good effects and bad effects. First, the concept of news being reported by all and not being influenced as much by politically based funding frees up the journalists to report without an agenda. However, Al-Jazeera does not have as much legitimacy among Western audiences as other media outlets -- primarily because of the stigma attached to anything coming from the Middle East/Arab world/anything that sounds like it might be remotely related to Islam. Of course, this illegitimacy definitely reflects a bias on the part of Western viewers, but you have to wonder how much of that bias has been created by our own media. Al-Jazeera however, has been successful in other countries and has expanded its consumer base because over time it has shown to be a more legitimate source of news. This might be attributed to the fact that more people can relate to the diversity of issues that are displayed and broad-casted on Al-Jazeera.

Christmas Ad

In "Global Communication and the Nation-State" by Elizabeth Hanson, she talks about framing of the news in which the news "frames events in a manner design to elicit public support" (pg 103). Looking at the four ways of framing described: cultural congruence, degree of consensus, amount of control over the flow of information and the nature of the event; I wondered if the principles of framing could also be applied to advertisements.

I came upon this thought at work (were many of my thoughts on readings occur) when watching what my company calls their "company programing". Included amongst its heave logo, slogan and values reinforcement there is a preview section of upcoming advertisement that will be broadcast across the nation in the weeks to come. Christmas being around the corner, the focus was linking home improvement projects with Christmas decorating. I was surprised to see the companies possibly first commercial solidly in Español to be featured in Mexico and on Spanish speaking channels in the US in limited quantity.

I found three distinctive features of the commercial that differed from its US counterpart in possibly negative ways. First, the imagery, nativity scene decoration, santa and then a Feliz Navidad sign on the lawn at the end. Now while these are just symbols of various traditions in the culture its also doesn't cover anything in the cultural context beyond the stereotypical. Unlike the american version, family is almost entirely missing and the shopper near the end was portrayed as someone hitting a bargain sale at machismo I assure you. Granted I am far from being a expert of Spanish, Mexican or South American culture but it seemed to be lacking some core values and I'm sure one of them is family.

Second, the commercial speaker was FAST, while obviously fluency is a given, the music and tempo didn't match the imagery, as if the music from the US commercial was thrown in along with the announcing voice hap haphazardly. Almost in a way of saying, we could care less about the quality as long as for 15 seconds you hear this commercial. There was even a spot near the end were the voice almost didn't make the cut at the end in which it was announcing the discount on exchanging lights out for new LEDs. I believe this is could be considered a control on the flow of information, in which the limitation of the programing and long with the way it is framed show that the value of the commercial is less important then the fact that its in another language (note I have seen their soccer commercial and the quality was WAY better).

I remember clearly listening and watching this commercial over three times to see if it was just a value judgement on my part but still I can't help but feel that the framing of the ad elcited a very culturally insensitive feel, void of the importance of the add and suggesting that by its very nature as an ad for a limited viewing space that it wasn't worth the effort they purposely put into the English version. So I ask, what does this kind of advertising say about the company and the customers its aimed at? Can we use Hanson's suggested framework of news to evaluate it?

Taking the Lead? Not so fast.

A common theme in this week's readings had to do with the media taking the lead on issues, not following them. Granting this is jumping the gun a bit...but I am more worried about the fact that if the media is leading, that means that others are not. Due to the CNN effect, curve, complex, factor--call it what you will--consumers expect to be informed immediately. This necessitates that those generally providing the news--managers, government officials, experts--are forced to provide statements before fully familiarizing themselves with the issues. This is not a new topic, I realize this. However, when I was reading these articles one image kept playing in my mind. President Bush's photo staring out the window onto the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Recently, since Bush's return to the media, he has again voiced his remorse for having this photo taken and published. He did not think of the consequences at the time, and the media--and thus the public--was demanding some sort of a statement. What is equally as frightening is that these rushed statements and photos will never disappear. Granted, I suppose you could use microfilm to pull up clippings from a century ago, but with today's technology the past is the present whenever someone uses the Google search feature. So what is the solution? Working on that one for now. But in the mean time, I'll give my sympathy vote to those being splashed around the press when their intentions were to appease the people's call of producing something.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Google Maps

After last week's discussion on Google taking the go-ahead with maps and deciding on its own borders (at times disputed by the states themselves) I thought that this article would be a good addition to the dialogue. I find it interesting that Google uses the State Department's information to draw its borders. And I find it interesting not because it follows America, but because it follows any one country's stance on national boundaries. Though, I do suppose that it has to base its information off somewhere, and one data-set is probably easier than picking and choosing--and thus setting their own agenda.

Friday, November 5, 2010

International Media Influencing U.S. Foreign Policy?

Recently, the U.S. and the international community has been paying a lot of attention to Iran and its nuclear program. Ironically, this has made Ahmadinejad a very sought after man in the media. Ahmadinejad has been on NPR and Larry King, to name two. If anything, all of the hoop-la surrounding the Iran situation has provided Ahmadinejad with a platform to voice his political opinions to the world, as evident by his various interviews with U.S. media sources. This definitely cannot be good for the momentum of the opposition movement in Iran. Last year, Ahmadinejad basically stole the elections and this year as a result of international media hype over Iran's nuclear program and most of the media is focusing on Ahmadinejad as the primary source of all things pertaining to Iran. If anything, I think this sort of hype by the media can drive policy in that if the media only focuses on one political figure as opposed to other voices, including dissenting voices, public opinion is bound to be more influenced by the redundancy of the international media representation of Iran as Ahmadinejad.


We all know the story of the 1920s. The government told people they weren't allowed to drinking, and what happened? The best recipes for moonshine emerged. Fast-forward a century later and prohibition is still happening in many forms—the one I’ll focus on today is China’s Great Firewall. As this weeks’ group presentation indicated, China’s has one of the most heavily monitored Internet usage in the world. A slew of sites are banned, and by a slew, I mean lots. But what is the aftermath of these bans?

Homegrown versions of Facebook, Twitter, and the like are widely used throughout China, and low and behold the government itself uses the local version of them. They use it both to promote their own messages, but more so to closely track who is uploading (and viewing) banned material and when. The armies of detectors that weblo, China’s version of Twitter, uses is enormous—but not impossible to get through. As the Economist article Breaching the great firewall mentions, the banned news that Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo received the Noble Peace Prize spread like wildfire. However, China can now go back and trace the sources through the controls China has on the weblo servers. So is it worth it? Surely it is. But how long will it take before you don’t have to be technological savvy to have your voice heard in China?

Framework at work

In Elizabeth Hanson's "War & Peace in the information Age", she talks about how the news "frames" events in particular ways. She exclusively talks about four methods of framing (cultural congruence, degree of consensus, amount of control over flow of information and nature of the event)as a way of explaining the perception the news gives to the public viewer, thus eliciting a certain response from the viewer. I personally got a taste of this "framing" today at work, in viewing the latest set of hurricanes to hit the already earthquake recovering island of Haiti.

The news cast centered around Hurricane Tomas which caused extensive flooding in camp/villages in Haiti. What caught my eye was that the news report followed some of the very same concepts expressed by an earlier reading,Lillie Chouliaraki's "The Symbolic Power of transnational media". The entire broadcast showed only maps of the devastated area, scenic/panoramic views of the flooding from above and when it did show individuals, they were in dryer regions holding a regional flag stating something to the effect of "this is nothing, we've seen worse". Ultimately giving the impression to the viewer (at least to me), that action need not be taken. The event was something mild and didn't require my attention nor my assistance as Chouliaraki puts it "do nothing, care not".

This inicident, small as it was, gave me a realization of just how easy it is for the media to down play an event and influence the actions of others. In this case, I was not aware, as possibly many individuals that saw this broadcast, that the area hit was already suffering from Cholera and most inhabitants still living in tents from the earthquake that crippled much of Haiti in January. It took searching it up on Google, under "Hurricane and Haiti" to get any news coverage that indulged more on the event and the details of the inhabitants.

The nature of the event, the flow of information and maybe even the political outlook on the event possibly wagered that it wasn't important enough to be given a detailed portrayal. Being a flood that only killed a few, damaged an already damaged area wasn't pertinent enough news to bother the American public with it. Thus, it was framed in a way that simply informed others of the winter destruction that comes with hurricanes and nothing more. This was more obvious when the event following it was the local weather outlook.

Therefore, it seems the news and the political outlook on a situation of possible crisis can have further ranging effects then are first realized. Resulting in a framing and portrayal that can be detrimental to those in need but everyday news for those viewing it from afar.

On Bloggers and Revolutions

Can new media can be credited with political action and social movement? There are a few reasons why it could be doubted. First, even if the internet makes political action easier, you still have to be an activist, take the initiative and follow through. But this has been going on forever without the internet, and activists have always found a way. Online action is not enough, you still have to go out there and follow through, but most people probably won’t. In other words, it is mostly talk. In the report Bloggers and Bullets, the authors point out that “new media could make citizens more passive, by leading them to confuse online rhetoric with substantial political action, diverting their attention away from productive activities” (9) It just seems to easy to “opt out” of it, as had been mentioned in class. We can consider a conversation without jumping in.

It is interesting that the authors point out that more traditional forms of media had more of an effect on getting information about Haiti and “put[ing] pressure on the U.S. Air Force to allow relief flights into the Port-au-Prince airport” (5) than new media. New media is somehow not yet engrained in our culture, it does not come naturally, nor does it include everybody. There is a division between the connected and not connected, and most people are not on twitter. New media cannot yet be exactly called a part of civil society because it only represents the online society. Certainly, at least in this country, most people are connected, but I still see it more as a social tool than an ingrained part of our civil life that seamlessly enters our political consciousness. As a matter of fact, it seems that “new media may also alter or reinforce political attitudes.” (9) “A study of the American political blogosphere demonstrated a pattern of partisan clustering that may suggest a polarizing effect for new media.” (8) It seems that these conversations are reflecting our politics rather than shaping them. Activism takes place outside of this talk in the real world, not the virtual one. Also, I don’t believe that Twitter causes revolutions (like the Iranian Revolution, the most significant of the anecdotes for social movement because of new media).

Not yet, anyway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just catching up

So to catch up for last week I've come asking a question. If we have a beef with the scenic shot via google earth (my yard might have been a mess that day), the what do we do about it? The answers aren't clear and in the reading for last week, the solution seemed to be to disregard old tactics and play with some new ones, that really aren't that new.

In Kumar's "Global Media and Communication: Google Earth and the nation state", the answer to fighting off big transnationals is hardly hopeful. Actually, its exactly what I was wondering when I wrote my midterm. What does a nation do to limit the actions of a transnational?

Well from what Kumar is suggesting out of the example with India's beef with Google and its program Google earth is that all you can do is: plead (he calls it negotiation), ban the products (so no Google for you), develop a similar product (so anyone heard of dubai?) or take evasive measures(I'll throw a shoe at you? or shut down my satellite system). Ultimately your best hope is that the CEO of Google just happens to be in your homeland for a weekend and decides to play nice. That the old means set down in the Treaty of Westphalia don't apply.

The plead, ban, develop or evade methods are the only ones that nation-states can take against transnationals that unlike their predecessors are not restricted to the boundaries of the nation they were developed in, they can influence and penetrate into the homes and lives of other nations. That they are entities that are border-less and thus are exceedingly hard to deal with. There is something Kumar doesn't mention though and that is the fact that in all the issues with Google and its program that no state turns to the U.S. for action, they turn to the corporate branch of Google in the US but not the US government. Now the concept of turning to the U.S. might be futile in making Google change, but is worth noting that many influential people within Google are buddies with the government. Thus is it truly out of the question for a nation to request another nation to deal with its own entities? Or is Google a media unbound to its place of birth? Is it to be treated like another nation? From what Kurma suggests, that transnationals like Google are beyond the nation-state status and thus a nation-state must be on the defensive if it wish to limit the influence or effects on its own sovereignty.

Therefore, if I still have a grudge with my yard being seen by millions of potential viewers after hearing all of this. Well, I guess I better hope I have the physical power and influence to enforce my views. I must either simply shut the system that irritates me out or live without access to the system and hope it still needs me enough to work with me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Can Social Media really boost voter turn out??????

I didn't actually go to the Stewart-Colbert rally, but I have been fascinated by the way that our generation has been particularly drawn to comedic news commentary shows as legitimate sources of news media. I think that the turnout at the rally is a prime example of this. This article on CNN sort of questions whether or not the rally was an effort to boost voter turn out. I do not think that was the purpose of the rally, in spite of Glenn Beck's nervous comments.

In terms of the Stewart-Colbert rally, social media played a huge role in getting the word out. Their facebook groups for the events were the primary event invitation for the gathering. Each page boasted tens of thousands of RSVPs for the event. While this form of social media was effective in getting the word out for people to go to the rally it may not be effective in getting people to go to the polls. Stewart and Colbert's fans do tend to be of the demographic that support Obama, but I think the gathering was less about using social media to promote a political agenda than it was to provide a response to the Glenn Beck rally. In this sense, social media was used to mobilize a demographic block different from those who turned out for the Glenn Beck rally. Facebook probably would not have been an effective means for Glenn Beck to get people to show up to his rally.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some thoughts before class

We haven’t had class yet, but I’m reading Castells and finding him much more interesting now. His article for this week brings up a lot of interesting power play dynamics between technology and social class and the state. The People Power II movement in the Philippines is a great, positive example of, “power of the Internet and mobile communications technology – not to mention broadcast media - not only to shape public opinion but also to mobilize civil society when push came to a shove." But for some reason I always think back to Rwanda and the horrible ways in which radio communication technology was used to facilitate genocide. The startling differences between People Power II, which was an overall peaceful movement in comparison with the first Philippine People Power movement and Rwanda, serve to demonstrate the importance of societal framing when using technology.

Castells is clear to point out that the glowing reviews of the progressiveness of People Power II come from the middle class. In Rwanda it was the oppressed Hutu's that were uprising… Technology in the hands of socioeconomic classes means something different. Even in the Philippines, the reaction to People Power II, “Poor People Power” was classified by violence.

In Korea, Roh and the youth movement draws a lot of similarities to Obama and his ascent to the presidency. Both were based on a sort of disenfranchised youth uprising, taking back the polls and effecting peaceful political change. But the train bombings in Spain are another example where the powers of mobile technology were used for evil. And it had some drastic political consequences, not only for Spain, with the election of a new political party but also for the international community and the US with the withdrawal of the Spanish coalition from Iraq. But something missing from all the case studies is exactly why mobile communications had the effects they did. Castells sees it. “…the particular usage of wireless technologies is shaped within the social context and political structures of a given society.”

Is it really still about social class? The use of mobile technology obviously can have revolutionary effects but only in weaker states? In the US, protests coordinated by mobile technology had much lesser effect because the state had the same, if not better tech capabilities to monitor the protestor’s efforts. In China, the state had such control over media as so almost erase news of early outbreaks of SARS. I can’t make out exactly what it is that determines the effect of mobile technology in inciting political change, but is it going to change as the state catches up to the population, or will the fact that there will always be a poor population balance against that?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wiki Whaaat?

Before the last couple of weeks I had no idea what Wiki leaks was, and after our discussion/ mini debate on media framing I’m still pretty ignorant about the whole scope of it, but I don’t know how much I like it. A lot of the readings and discussion have dealt with the deliverance of media and the bias that is thrown in during production, delivery and digestion of media content. Wiki leaks is supposedly all about the triumph of freedom of speech and press and delivering information of the public that they would be unable to receive from other media outlets. I understand that framing of a new story can greatly impact the outcome of a situation, especially in terms of national disasters and tragedies, but I don’t think wiki leaks or their purpose escapes media framing as much as they might wish.
Kumar’s article dealt with the sovereignty tension between nation states and media sources and the Iraq/Iran wiki leak controversy brings this issue strongly into the forefront, maybe more so than Google. The question will always be where to draw the line, between personal freedom and nation state security. Except now the issue is not a matter of what pictures a Chinese citizen and an American citizen will see when they both “Google” Tiananmen Square, the line may actually have people’s lives on it.
My general impression is that these media orgs, Google, Wiki and the like aren’t putting forth the same efforts as nation states in terms of negotiating and giving Kumar’s supra-national governing sphere some real power. Wiki leaks releasing of soo many documents obviously did its job in a way in reporting some pretty shady state sanctioned actions but I wonder what the human consequences will end up being and if wiki served the public well in that sense. Nation states attempts to regulate media might come from a place of self preservation, but sometimes these new media’s complete resistance to regulation might do more harm than good. Not that their resistance is another kind of framing, but similarly, the controversy they generate going to toe to toe with government attracts a whole new following. When does that start to change the way you produce, package and deliver? I obviously have no conclusions drawn about the matter, but I just don’t feel that the release of this kind of information was without framing, or that more information = more good.

The unintended audience still watches

When the movie Bowling for Columbine came out, I was living in London. As my friends there would watch it, they would start to ask me questions. Did I carry a gun back home? How was I not afraid to leave my house? At least a knife, right? You know, for protection. Little did they know that I don’t know hardly anyone who owns a gun. Maybe a couple people in Maine. Then I saw the movie. It was completely obvious to me that this was a film made for US audiences to learn something about their own culture, but people abroad could not know that this it was not everyday life for Americans.

In “The symbolic power of transnational media,” Chouliaraki is making the case for how transnational news affects its particular audience by the way they frame the news. We are either distanced from far away panoramic suffering or brought to sympathize with close personal accounts. The first story is about “them” and the second is about “us”, and the bias is the “hierarchy of domestic relevance”. My question is, what happens when a story is not viewed by the intended audience but by someone else? While close us suffering on 9/11 made some sympathize, it made others rejoice. While a distant Iraq war made us feel farther away, it enraged others. A story about one crazy guy with a forty person following who wants to burn a Koran will reach an unintended audience, and it is no longer a sensational story that we all here know does not represent reality, but others perceive as typically American.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that there is no such thing as global news. And I only mean that in the sense that there is no “global” audience.

Thinking back to Chouliaraki, it seems that the distant panoramic “spectacle to watch rather than…as a political act to take sides on” is a much safer bet for “global news” (338). If more personal news is meant to incite, you can bet that you will incite your unintended, audience too, and that seems to only serve to perpetuate conflict.

Imagine a world...

“We should not think of the news as a genre of information but also as a genre of imagination” (Chouliaraki 333).

I keep wavering on my stance regarding this passage. Though I appreciate that Chouliaraki believes that we are not autopilot consumers, and that we have the ability to choose our own reactions to the media, I think he is taking it a bit far. I think this is perhaps because the word imagination connotes—at least to me—that one has to stretch boundaries and is left to creative devices. Generally a positive thing. However, if we have to morph the news, I am a bit worried about how different individuals will interpret the message the media feeds us.

For example, just this morning on my way to work I was approached by a seemingly homeless man—or at least a well-motivated collectionist as this was before 7:00am. As many commuters use IPods, or some other listening device, on their way to work his message had to be loud and succinct: “Obama is a traitor! Terrorist! Lived overseas and plays in sandboxes. Big man child”. I understand that not everyone voted for Obama—the polls reflected that—but this man used his imagination well (and even some fun literary tools too). My point is not that I am an avid Obama supporter, but the fact that this man is not. He had consumed the news and interpreted it in his own manner. I know that there are far better examples to use to voice my skepticism on having consumers interpret the news, but this one was fresh in my mind (and stains fresh on my jackets from his coffee spray).

Do you see why I am torn? The teacher side of me encourages and endorses imagination, but the observing humanity side of me remains a bit skeptical. Essentially, and I think that this is also Chouliaraki’s point; I think that the news should not necessitate imagination, but leave room for it. So those that want to make connections, please do. But for those who want to simply be receivers, allow them that passive right.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Learning about Networks the hardway

I have dealt with many issues in my life but never as many as I have upon entering this university. I always considered networks as the interaction between two or more human entities in dealing with specific issues. Reading Franda's Launching into Cyberspace and I was more in the mindset that networks could also include the action of a nation in the creation of industrial policies, culture norm enforcement and creation by way of contra-flows and self-regulation. But upon reading Amelia Arsenault's "Networks emerging frameworks for analysis, I have learned of a new form of networks, were the actors aren't always human.

Hence back to my person experience were I learned first hand how to interlocking nodes function and just how interlocked I am with the device known as the computer. I have learned that I use it as a mediary, not an intermediary, to display or transmit my meaning to the rest of my network including my professors and fellow classmates. By having two computers crash on me with thirty minutes of one another. I learned right then and there the "principle of generalized symmetry"that my computer as an inanimate object functionally exhibits as much agency as I (the human) do.

Upon the break down I was left scrambling to deduct a way to contact professors and other human relations in my network only to realize that my "power" or ability to affectively induce a message was severally hampered by this primary facilitator going down and that my next alternative was to call upon more inanimate objects such as the cellphone and USBs along with the physical act of dropping by the offices of the people I direly need to contact.

Thus, the Network through my experience of it is as Arsenault put it, a "mercenary", especially in its ability to exclude an individual that fails to adapt to a situation but also if that individual is unable to connect in one or more ways. So moral of this story, be wary of ones reliance on a particular inanimate object in ones network, it may opt personally or unintentionally to exclude you from the living part of your network that you are connected to.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Networks as Society

I feel that it is such an important question to ask, where is the basis of our network age? Does the power lie in the Agency of the individuals who make up the network, or in the network itself, how societies are structured. Sometimes I feel that people make these choices everyday, how they choose to participate, what they choose to empower themselves with. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of us give up our freedom just by being unaware of the influence that networks have on us. But them, maybe if we don’t really care, we are free to make that choice, too. Go with the flow. But I am stumped by the question if we are victims of our place in the networks. Are you placed in a community without wanting to be, or are you a voluntary participant? If we have a choice, then we can’t be victims, but do we have a choice? You know, we talk about networks as if it is something totally new that was born with the internet, but I think of networks as society. And we still blame society for a bunch of things, like anorexia, workaholism (not a word, I see) and teenage bullying. Maybe saying we have no agency within networks is like saying we have no will to resist being bullies.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Double Chai Latte and the NYTimes for Free Please

For all of you who avoid Bender like the plague and find alternative venues to study in, you might now be motivated to head over to Starbucks (if you weren't a convert before). Evidently, Starbucks is opening up a digital network by the end of the month. The objective is to become the best choice for customers: "What it comes down is a matter of choice. Coffee and tea drinkers have a myriad of options, so for Starbucks it's about motivating the customer to choose its stores, and its digital network content partners by association" (CNN article Starbucks Digital Network is here 10.20.10). What this new digital network will offer is access to the NYTimes's Reader 2.0 subscription only news, as well as access to the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. But it’s not only news that are the nodes in this network.

Starbucks has six channels: News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business and Careers, My Neighborhood and the customer-personalized Starbucks channel. Starbucks believes that these are the areas of most interest to their clientele and they want to ensure that their customers have access. But one of the interesting facets of this network is that those companies who are partnering with Starbuck's on this (NYTimes, Yahoo, Men's Health) are not receiving payment. Simply airtime. Though this is not a new concept, this is a large corporation adopting it--so perhaps this will become viral and food and beverage franchises around the world will begin developing their own networks.

One Shot Deal?

The conversation about memes yesterday in class threw me off--not because I didn't know what I mean was, but evidently I don't know what the most common ones are--RickRoll for example. Clueless. But it made me begin think about the value of memes. The extrinsic value I can see--you are doing it for the sake of others, because you know that your best friend is going to be irritated when he asks you about that YouTube link he showed you that you never watched

But what is the intrinsic value of a meme? Granted, the content of the meme would be highly dependent upon what intrinsic value you place upon it. So let's take those most common meme examples. NumaNuma--probably my favorite of the common memes previously listed in the link--is hilarious, sure, but only once or twice. After that I begin to question why it’s so funny and start feeling guilty. Not really amping up that intrinsic value for me. So this leads me to ask, are memes--as viral as they are--intended for multiple viewings by the consumer? Or are they a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'm one shot kind of deal?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Apathy Fatigue

I was very struck with this week’s discussion about problems with today’s media configuration and the responses it provokes in the American public. A lot of people seemed to hold very strong opinions about the apathy of the American people. I brought up compassion fatigue as maybe an alternative to apathy, because inundation in the media can be overwhelming. But really I think we are sometimes too self critical. Media monopolies and media illiteracy pose some serious roadblocks to the flow and reception of information but I like to think that the American people are pretty well informed… maybe just not about what the vice president’s name is… Washington DC can be such a bubble, especially in terms of communication. Current events communication is the currency of power in this town. What is easy to forget in a community like Washington and especially at AU, is that Middle America still exists. We may way underdeveloped compared to Europe in our international political conscious, but just the fact that my grandfather in Valentine, Nebraska knows where Darfur is, knows that Burma exists, speaks to the effectiveness of modern communication. Apathy to some is baby steps to me I guess.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Japan you will not be America cause I said so.

It seems according to Iwabuchi that Japan's ability to create various globally successful "oderless" commodities such as consumer technologies, comics and cartoons and computer/ video games that we have consumed for decades are not to be considered even viable against the America "soft co-optic power"(pg416). That even though Japan has been able to change global perception of its culture from an "odor" to a "fragrance" that its economics will always overshadow its culture presence. If this is true, then what exactly is the value of Japan's contribution to the global market?

From Iwabuchi's stance it seems, that its Japan's place to be the globalizing force is only in Asia, with "its power-free perception of culture similarity and local intimacy" to its neigboring nations (pg 426-7). That it is only able to be a global force by buying into the American distribution channels and making stakes in American companies such as Hollywood studios and Manga Entertainment. But if that is true, then aren't we as America being used for a means to a economic end? And aren't we forgetting the huge amount of "odorless" goods we've consumed to no end?

Hence, if simply being covert is the issue then yes, Japan you lose the global influence power struggle. But what if being in the most economically lucrative industries without having to have the consumer recognize you or even relate to you or your country then what are you losing? Profits? Absolutely not, but recognition, yes. Iwabuchi's biggest strife seems to be that the culture of Japan, the Japanese "way of life" is not being promoted globally, and when it is abroad its consumption is artificial and only embodies the consumer culture (pg 417-8). Thus, Japan can not be America in Iwabuchi's eyes because it has not made its own culture the driving force in its global presence, and until it does Japanization can not be Americanization.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Like It on the....

While minding my own business, working in the library this morning, I overheard two males talking about some girl's Facebook status. "Dude, she even likes it on the floor depending on her mood. That's AWESOME". At this point I tuned out of their conversation, but quickly pulled up my own Facebook page. I had remembered that last week one of my friends in Greece had a status similar to this over the weekend, but I just chalked it up to being a TV show clip that I was unaware of. So I proceeded to do some research. I pulled up the status updates feature of Facebook to find her update, but quickly discovered that lots of people had some rendition of this "I like it on..." quote. Here are some of the examples that my friends have used:

"I like it where you like it"
"I like it on the backseat, until I remember to bring it into the house. Then it is all about the counter"
"i like it hanging from my bed post"
"I like it on the washing machine, when I first walk in"

Intriguing, eh? Well for those of you who are unaware as I was, the "I like it..." is this year's Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. Remember last year on Facebook when females simply had a color as their status, indicating what color bra they liked most, or were wearing that day? Well, this campaign is something like that. Except, I am struggling to find out how the "I like it..." relates to Breast Cancer Awareness, when the "it" refers to a purse. But hey, apparently the campaign is spreading quickly, and I'm not one to knock the Awareness campaign, so I'll continue talking about the spread of the campaign across Facebook.

What I found most interesting in my status search, was location. Out of my friends, the first one to have this posting was one of my friends from Greece, but shortly followed by friends in Turkey, Spain, Bulgaria, Kenya, Dominican Rep., and Argentina. It wasn't until Sunday that any of my friends from America jumped on this recent fad. This surprised me. How does something so viral spread and initially skip America? I would have attributed it to time zones, but looking at the geographic location of my friends, that theory failed quickly. I also consider Breast Cancer Awareness, and most things racy, a fairly hot topic for females in America, so I doubt that it would be through lack of interest. So what gives? How was America skipped in the first 24 hours of this campaign? Or is it that my friends just hadn't jumped on board yet? Also, how is it that the females all know about this, while the guys leave ??? comments on their statuses?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Not All Pirates Are Bad

Mattelart’s article on Audio-Visual Piracy placed me in a time warp and brought me back to Greece. This past year I spent 14 months teaching abroad, 10 of them being in Greece. I was also a dorm mom for the high schoolers, so I got to know the kids pretty well. Let’s travel back to late May. I’m having a conversation with my boss about how excited she is for the May 27th Premier of Sex and the City 2. She even boasts that this is the same day that it’s released in America—“THAT is how important Greece is”. One of my Bulgarian students, who will always take the opportunity to take a jab at Greece, pips up: “well if you wanted to watch it, you just should have asked. I downloaded in last week. Here you can have it” as she fumbles through her backpack looking for her jump-drive.

Now, in this topic about Audio-Visual Piracy, let’s allow McChensey to chime in with some statistics: US film firms generate 50-60% of their revenue outside of the country and US music firms generate 70% of their revenue out of the country. That’s a heaping amount. Now, I fully understand the dangers and consequences of illegal downloads, for the industries and consumers alike. But Mattelart has a point that it isn’t all that bad. Piracy creates a demand for more production. The more a product is circulated, the more it, or things like it, are demanded. Now how does this help the film industry if something is being circulated that was never purchased to begin with?

Here’s my take on it. I correlate the effects of piracy to the way that I do my Christmas shopping. When I go Christmas shopping, I don’t go with a list, but I do go with the notion of knowing what I will not deem appropriate for all those who have made it onto my stingy list of present receivers. Now, here’s how it relates to the film industry. If piracy prompts demand, that’s a good thing. Consumers of movies rarely have a wish list of movies that they want created, but once they see something advertised, they know that it’s the perfect fit. I know that the details are a bit loose, but it helped comfort me in knowing that there could indeed be some positive affects to me students’ downloading behavior.


I hadn't realized how old the McChseney article was until I read that Murdoch's bid for Manchester United was still pending. For those of you interested, it never passed. Now, old isn't bad, so long as one read's it with an appropriate distance and perspective. Another insight to the date of this article was the blurb about the McDonald's/Disney affiliation.

Disney and McDonald's did indeed have a ten year agreement in which they promoted each other across 109 nations. Disney provided all those nifty little figurines with the choking hazard warnings on them. McDonald's provided food for millions of Disney customers. However, come 2004, the alliance, or partnership, dissolved. Why? Well, aside from the bad rap that McDonald's had at the time for not properly educating its clientele? That we can only speculate on, as representatives from both parties were fairly close-lipped about the situation. So now, if you want to grab food at Downtown Disney, you'll be welcomed in by Pollo Campero a Latin Chicken Fast-Food restaurant. Not quite sure that follows Disney's objectives though:

The Walt Disney Company's objective is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services and consumer products. The company's primary financial goals are to maximize earnings and cash flow, and to allocate capital toward growth initiatives that will drive long-term shareholder value.

McDonalnd's has 47 million customers a day. Pollo Campero has just over double that in a year. I would say that reputation is what they were after, but then, they own E! Entertainment.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Huge changes in the UK law on internet privacy

Internet and privacy laws are some of the main topics in the United Kingdom.

This week, the EU commission stated that if the UK could not effectively safeguard against the illegal interceptions of communications, specifically internet traffic, then it would lead to fines and other actions against the government.  This all comes in the mist of many UK citizens concerns and complaints that an internet ad serving system on their internet providers’ network was intercepting their internet channels and were enrolling them without a right for them to opt out of these advertisements.

"The user's consent is required for any interception of e-mails or internet surfing, the Commission says, objecting to the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), which allows a person to intercept communications if he or she has "reasonable grounds for believing" that consent has been given.  (


Under the EU, there should be sanctions for any and all unlawful interceptions.  So where does the UK stand in this matter.  The EU commission in my opinion is flexing its authority and calling for the UK to make immediate changes.  Although I do not think that the EU commission will place any real sanctions on the UK I do think that this does show the power of the public sphere and governance and its ability to implement change.  

Disneyland makes a step towards glocalization???

As the world becomes closer and more cultures are being subjected to the leverage of other “dominant” cultures, many turn to the concept of globalization as the many key factor of these influences.  John Sinclair illustrates that individuals identities are not constant and that they consist of multiple and mixed layers of influence and it is this variety of levels that allows them to be able to connect with others without abandoning their own sense of self and culture.  He also goes on to say that “cultural affiliations at various levels” are “no longer obliged to assimilate themselves to a national culture.” 

Disneyland, who has long held a sense of the “American spirit” has recently reversed a ban on the Muslim employees wearing the hijab.  Although Disney did not fully lift the ban on the hijab they did recognized the religious and culture significance and allowed a specially designed headscarf as a compromise.  This was a significant step towards a more global understanding and less of the heterogeneous culture where Disney has traditional stood by not allowing religious garb.   I think this is the first step in the glocalization of many organizations in the effort to establish and/or maintain a global connection with their customers and employees by thinking globally and intern acting locally.


We spent a lot of time in class taking Sparks down, but in terms of O’Neil’s article on media literacy, something he says strikes a nerve. Spark’s final jab at the theory of global media domination: “A quarter of the world’s population, more than one and a quarter billion people, are today without any access to electricity, and that number will rise over the next 25 years (World Energy Outlook, 2002). No electricity, no internet. A theory that is blind to such facts is blind to reality.”
When O’Neil talks about the campaign for media literacy he frames access to communications as a human right. Put this together with Sparks… are one and a quarter billion people being denied an essential right? If having no internet access equates to denial of the right to communications access who is there to blame? Drag to the ICC?
O’Neil’s article really just gave me the impression that media literacy is a “First World” right. Protecting those who already have communications access but not bringing it to anyone new. The two authors conflicted me a little bit, because I do believe in increasing media literacy especially in children, and in communications access as a human right. But Sparks’s closing argument really stuck with me. Global communications is supposed to unite the world community, not become the new polarizer between the developed and the unfortunates. But how do you bring internet to people who can’t even access clean water?

Rated for Everyone

Disclaimer: This internet content is strictly opinion-based. While it may be based on some fact, it should not be taken at face value as any sort of journalistic news gathering. There is no explicit material. I don’t have a record of reporting fabricated material as fact, but I do tend to come from a more left/liberal perspective.

I got so excited when we started talking about rating systems in class. Maybe it is silly, but I have always wondered if there should be some sort of rating system for where people are getting their information. Not censorship. Not some kind of overreaching, controlling system, just a measure of content as compared to other content. Today, parents use existing measurements to help guide them what to let their children watch, youporn warns you explicitly that you are about to enter a page with material meant for adults only, you are warned before surgery shows that material may be graphic and not suitable for everyone, and even blogs are flagged these days as having strong content.

Should there be s system on labeling shows and websites with rating? Should we know something about their reputation on legitimacy, fact-checking, whether or not they are opinion based, and so forth? I do not want to get into the logistics of it, but maybe it can be done, and in an unimposing, non censoring, non dictatorial way. Is it is feasible? Ethical? Is it out responsibility, or the individual’s?

A double edge sword.

Both Visual piracy and the ability of subaltern contra-flows have the ability to disrupt the flow of influence and wealth to the few but reigning TNCs. Revealing that globalization and even glocalisation are more then one way flows from Western powers to the rest of the world. That the same cultural, social and political influences that are embedded into a media product can be turned around and sent back to its originators with a similar imposing force. Bring about a small but growing feeling to the originators of the dominant flow of insecurity and national insecurity.

In Daya Kishan Thussu's "Mapping Global Media Flow and Contra-flow", subaltern contra-flows are characterized as a flow of material from the South (Non-western) to the North (western/mostly US). He gives examples of telenovelas and Bollywood as small but growing influential subaltern contra-flows. While these examples are not a major presence yet there are others that are, such as Japanese animation (which Thussu kindly shoves to the side) and other pop-culture risings (Korean drama, music (of all varieties) and fashion design (where do you think your new concept of layering and leggings came from?)) in influence with regional distinction. Companies are being forced to start carrying products from abroad and recognize the ability of these entities to capture local interest. Thus find themselves having to adjust their own programing to replicate in one form or another this intrusive new media, not to say that this is a bad thing but it is something a little more noticeable then Thussu gives credit to. For example fashion institutes like FIT in New York are now turning their attention to the East for the newest trends, TV programmers are grappling with the concept of multilingual programing, while Walmart is carrying more Latin American and Asian foods in its Super stores.

Much of this is in the face of TNC's who "will respect no tradition or custom, on balance, if it stands in the way of profits" when abroad, as Robert McChesney has mentioned in "The Media System Goes Global" (pg 202). Yet, when faced with things such as piracy, are more the willing to assert their American right to their media content and that suddenly their entire industry is on the verge of collapse because they're influence isn't turning a profitable figure they hold in their minds.

Also it is interesting that in Tristan Mattelart's "Audio-visual piracy" that the threat of subaltern contra-flow isn't talked about. Yet, its been occurring since the 1980's with the boom of pirated regional goods flowing into the U.S. from abroad through those traveling on business trips, loading their briefcases full to sell at a locally "authentic" shops. Or the fact that there has been such a flood of piracy in comic material from Japan (w/ content unchanged), that American companies have just began taking legal action fearing loss of their niche on resealing the same item but with a culturally corrected addition. Its seems only recently that people and companies have began to notice and even question how much of a foreign good is being consumed but in truth the concepts of subaltern contra-flow and piracy have been a large part of American lives for sometime.

Hence, its not that piracy and subaltern contra-flows are one and the same but that they do compliment each other and perhaps even state that its not that something is wrong with globalization but that something is wrong with the players involved. That these players especially TNCs need to be more sensitive to the areas they bombard with media because they can now turn around and have similar media thrown back at them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Facebook: Lighting a Fire?

I don't think that I'm alone in being a bit disappointed with youth involvement in civil society. What happened to impromptu riots, rallies and gatherings? Or even planned ones for that matter? Don't get me wrong, I've heard of the Stewart-Colbert rallies, but the majority of our class hadn't yet heard of the liberal response that's apparently happening this weekend. I say apparent, because 1. I am unsure if it’s this weekend or next 2. because just because something is planned doesn't mean anyone will show up. That is not a jab at liberals. That is a jab at our generation. However, the tides may be turning.

Social networking is one of the latest assets of congregation and communication. Everyone around the world is using it. And its inspiring people. Maybe we won't be bowling alone for too much longer. The State Department even asked Twitter not to undergo a scheduled maintenance because it would coincide with an Iranian revolution. Nations have closed off access to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Bebo. The international community is aware of the growing strength and unity that social networking is providing. So maybe, just maybe, this won't just be a fad, and social networking will become an important tool in facilitating involvement in civil society, not something to put in the history books as an attempted reinvigoration at the beginning of the 21st century.

Google, censored?

Guilty as charged: I get lost in most of the conversations in class that have to deal with media history (or contemporary pop culture for that matter). The pop culture I should do better with, but the media history I'm learning about--and thanks to all of you, quickly. Fortunately, I find the topics both amusing and applicable, so I jot things down to follow-up on. One of them being the "dirty words" conversation.

Inappropriate words in print don't particular phase me. Said on the media, I can handle it. Say it in front of me, and I get awkward. Ask me to say something? I'll clam up. Don't ask me what twisted part of my up-bringing instilled that, because my family and friends certainly aren't afraid to shoot the shit with one another. See that, I can curse in print.

Moving on however to Google. A fellow NH classmate of mine wrote a blog article last week addressing how the internet helps us think. That Google feature freaks me out a bit. However, it is censored. Google is notorious for being anything but censoring, but for its latest feature that thinks for you, it is just that. For example, if you begin to type in a possible offensive or sticky word, such as anal or barely legal, the instant search feature no longer works. You can still type the full word and search for it like you could three weeks ago. But that is so outdated. Who wants to search in the past? Now, if you took a gander at the black list of words, you'll notice that not all of them are outright wrong such as camel toe. Granted, not a personal fan of the phrase and what it represents, but you could very well want to know the anatomy of the Arabian one-humped camel's toes. Good for you--but probably not what most people are looking for. There are still some that are throwing me, such as hairy and meat, because I don't think that most searches of these words fall under the category that should be shielded from the viewer unless certain of intention. Google's working out the kinks right now, but this is the censorship they're sticking with for the time being.

Friday, September 24, 2010


A lot of this Tuesday’s class focused on hybridity and “glocalization”. I still feel like I do not understand exactly what either of terms mean or describe. Talk in class made me think about Calle 13. I don’t know if they apply to hybridity or glocalization exactly but they are a musical group of family members who transcend a lot of musical borders. Their music is a combination of jazz, hip hop, salsa and electronic sounds with intertwined English and Spanish (spanglish?) lyrics. More than just their sounds, the content of their songs is often politically charged, socially pertinent and critical of the status quo. Their style has enabled them to become popular in North and South America. Do they glocalize themselves? Whether it is intentional or not, I think Calle 13 has become really representative of our continuously integrating, new globalized world. And they demonstrate the power of the mass media. “Querido F.B.I” was written about the assassination of a Puerto Rican revolutionary. The song’s lyrics made it into Puerto Rican newspapers, reaching a much larger audience than their own and started a public debate. Their music is an entertainment art form, mass produced with real political and social repercussions. And it sounds really good.
Some of my favorites…

Media literacy who is responsible for its development?

In Brian O'Neill's Media literacy and communication rights article, he talks about the concept of Media Literacy as a critical tool for citizens in nation-states to interact not only within their own physical communities but also with those they interact with online and through various forms of media. This critical tool as stated in various media policies in Europea as "a prerequisite to effective participation in technologically advanced societies" (pg 325), has brought about many revisions and extensions on how media literacy should be achieved and who should be responsible for achieving it.

The focus seems to be on nation-states who in turn create a definition of media literacy before turning to "regulatory authorities and media industry interests [to] play their part in helping to promote and improve levels of media literacy" (pg 328). This makes finding a source for learning media literacy very blurred and ambiguous as one group looks to the other for a solution. One of the main solutions suggested is education, mostly education of youth. A field in which the U.S. is stated to lag in because of its "failure to recognize media literacy and media education as a right that all children and young people have" (pg. 326). But with the U.S. being one of the nations with the most proliferate users of technology is it a failure to recognize rights or is that as a nation that prides individual achievement and creativity, we see children as having the ability to navigate technology in their own way or is it simply that the nation like others hasn't chosen who is responsible for educating individuals namely children to be media literate.

It seems the issue is a universal one with concepts such as the Oslo Challenge created by Norweign government at the 10th Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC), which calls upon the government, educators and media industry interests to promote childrens' media rights (pg 335). This concept along with the formation of the CRC have focused and transformed the concept of media literacy into a basic human right and while that confirms the legitimacy of media literacy as a fundamental part of social interaction and political involvement, it still doesn't address how or who is suppose to initiate this education. Is it the nation-state, the NGOs, private media firms or local education?

States vs. MNCs

In regard to globalization, Sinclair concludes that global phenomena such as multi-national corporations, the media, trade and migration have not managed to overtake the role of the Westphalian nation-state. However, as Hanson points out in her outline of the global economy, MNCs have emerged as features that attest to globalization, at least of the economy. “A list of the top one hundred economic entities in the world…indicates that more than half are MNC.” (page 61) Whether or not you believe that a new global society will emerge to surpass the state, you can’t argue that these MNCs have become prominent players in the global stage.

Moreover, it is important to take notice these giant MNCs are creating their own terms for their operations abroad. Hanson asks a very important question: Who is responsible for sweatshop conditions--the subcontractor employer, the local government, or the MNC? Up until now, corporations have been allowed to dictate practices abroad, and they are not held accountable for work conditions. In this sense, have we not allowed the nation-state to cave to globalization already? Is the case that the states are calling the shots by the simply not interfering? Are states dictating the rules, or are they powerless to the whims of MNCs?

So Hanson’s question remains. Should governments change their policies? Regulation is not rewarding for either the MNCs or the countries that wish to attract them, and the only ones who lose are the people who end up working for them. This is the darkest side of economic globalization. Who is ultimately responsible for these workers?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sajoo = ça joue

For a nation that throws out its Eastern friends, their companies are comically savvy in catering to them. The French language for those of you who have learned (or attempted to) the language, you more than likely were caught up about having to swallow your R’s, or not knowing when you are and are not allowed to pronounce the final 1-4 letters of a word. However, for those who do not speak French as beautifully as it was designed to, Keljob, among others, has devised a phonetic translation of the language.

Though strange as Keljob looks (quel job being the original French version), it really is quite effective. It shares the French media with those who previously tuned out due to language barriers. It allows both relocated citizens living in France to learn the language quicker as well as those of French heritage who haven’t quite plunged into their roots due to appreciate not only French, but what France has to offer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Globalization: Redesigning the Approach

As well argued in Colin Spark’s and John Sinclair’s articles, globalization is difficult to define. This is not only because the concept of globalization is perpetually morphing to incorporate new actors, but because what is the cause and effect of globalization is actually hard to pin down. So what if we leave the definition of globalization open-ended. Consider it more of a lens, through which we can observe, experience, and analyze the reconfigurations and progress of the world’s relationships. A bit wordy I know, but if we (we being the millions of citizens intrigued with the concept of globalization) use globalization as an approach to investigate, instead of as an umbrella term, more time could be used to identify how to use the world’s new interconnectedness to prepare for the changes it inevitably will cause. So let’s take two steps back, clean the slate of jargon (ethnoscapes, glocalization, etc) and redesign the way that globalization is viewed. Instead of using it as a definition in which things fall under, let’s use it a lens with varying zoom features--one that allows us to look at everything from the global to the local. And yes, in that lineation there is still room to look at the nation-states and their role in this morphing world, because as Sparks points out they’re still the biggest head-honcho’s in realm of global actors.