Corporate Propriety in a Digital Environment

—Before I start I would just like to point out that when I say ‘corporate’ I am not referring to any one specific corporation, just the general attitude of corporations as set out by Coombe and Herman as well as based on my own opinion which was gathered after researching a bit further. And when I refer to the ‘consumer’ I am not referring to any specific market, but merely individuals who are the intended market of any corporation, so essentially anyone who is marketed to (so really everyone, its a generalized point of view based on the average needs, wants and opinions of the average consumer.)—

While I must admit I do not even attempt to love papers concerning business and commerce, about two pages in I came up with the idea (thankyou Coombe and Herman, you helped me come to this assumption) that the new medium of the digital world provides new ways of advertising to the consumers through an interactive medium. However, with so many ‘new’ ways of advertising, the game of it all becomes remade aswell. So a new advertising game with new rules; mainly centred around the concept that these new consumers may out smart the advertisers. So this game for control over the consumer becomes a gamble to see how many people will be duped.  A way that consumers have used to combat this is to act as the corporate, in other words the consumer sells to the consumer, taking the whole concept of the corporate out of it (see Etsy and http://www.deviantart.com/)

Bakhtinian’s idea of the monologic interaction from corporate to consumer has been rewritten. This monologue has been changed from a discussion in Web 1.0, to a monologue run by the consumers in Web 2.0 which is slowly being turned into a monologue run again by the corporate (I will mention this later.) This struggle for power is a reflection on the struggle for control over mass culture and indeed popular culture, one which the corporate want to control (so as to represent their products in a way which will reflect their profits) as well as the consumer (who wish for freedom of speech/opinion and the ability to interpret products and reflect their opinion on the corporate as a whole based on their products.)

Review websites and consumer based websites such as Etsy (which I wont explain in great detail as I mention it so much, essentially consumers selling to consumers, products which the corporation makes but that the consumer would much rather buy off another consumer) and The Escapist are perfect examples of what John Perry Barlow meant by the shift in power from corporate to consumer. In the examples listed zero punctuation can be found by typing yahtzee into google, and rather than get the board game you get a man who pummels corporations and video games into the dust, the name of the studio and main creator of video games are constantly bashed, (in the following video, which I implore you to watch the first 30 seconds at least), after posting this video yahtzee was contacted by Lionhead Studios and Peter Molyneux(somewhat of a god to us gamers..well..me) But rather than demand the video be taken down, Lionhead Studios instead asked yahtzee to review their upcoming sequel in the hopes that a good review would influence consumers to buy more of the product Fable 2. The approach of lionhead studios was the opposite to coca cola and mattel, in that they recognized the power of the consumer to influence other consumers, which in turn aid the corporate rather than devalue them in the eye of the consumer.

And I have already gone on to long. God dam it! I’ll dot point the rest.

·         Through discourse, the semiotic of a corporations brand name is altered, thanks to the consumers with access to the internet the signified is forfeit based on public opinion, a perfect example of which is the link between McDonalds and obesity, a link which was made on the internet by the consumers without the corporations approval, and yet their logo is slandered internet wide

·         Digital communication is the consumers means of discourse

·         In relation to cyber squatting I was going to talk about the arguments concerning the bioshock.com domain name. In this case the cyber squatters won and bioshock had to move onto a different url, full story http://www.gamepolitics.com/2010/08/25/take-two-loses-bioshock-domain-name-fight

·         Another threat to the corporation is tagging, the mattel’s “barbie” example is perfect, ‘altered barbie’ produces no real matel barbie sites, only art and fan related sites. This ‘threat’ to the corporate is achieved through redirecting search engines by using key words usually associated with the corporation

·         I was then going to use some examples of where fan culture has become popular culture (as suggested by Fiske and Jenkins) through anime and cosplay which have become major events, i.e. Comic-Con and Blizzardcon. Going further into fan culture, the suggestion by the corporate that all fan resources should be submitted to an official fan page and then approved before posting (censorship), which is not cool. So no corporate! Just no, bad way to advertise the whole ‘use this site’ thing, be on the official site and be censored or just make an unofficial fan page. Guess which is more popular?

To Sum up, while it may seem that the consumer has control over the corporate through discourse, this control is constantly fluid, shifting from one to another rapidly. An example of this can be found on the latest COICA news (COICA being Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, now this is a U.S. thing, but is still an interesting shift in power) Government Puts The Hurt On The Internet Essentially this bill is just being considered at the moment, but what makes it scary is that there is a blacklist made of anything which is considered an ‘infringing activity’ so basically any website which is centred around a product of the corporation as its main theme would need to be blocked by Google (goodbye McDonald and Barbie haters.) Though this concerns a comparitive majority of online users, the majority should be more concerned about the problems this would cause for YouTube (and other sharing sites, i.e. Flickr) as it could fit into the category of this black list and be blocked if this act goes through, this is due to some of the materials being shown on YouTube being copyright. The main concern is that this would destroy net neutrality and censor to much material on the internet, quelling the new found voice that everyone just got with Web 2.0.

Reference;

  • Ashe, F., Finlayson, A., Lloyd, M., Mackenzie, I., Martin, J. and O’Neill 1999. Contemporary Social and Political Theory. Open University Press: Buckingham
  • Coombe, Rosemary and Herman, Andrew (2001) ‘Culture Ware on the Net: Intellectual Property and Corporate in Digital Environments,’ The South Atlantic Quarterly, vol 100 issue 4, pp.919-947
  • Jensen, R. 1992. ‘Fighting Objectivity: The Illusion of Journalistic Neutrality in Coverage of the Persian Gulf War’ in Journal of Communication Inquiry, 16: 20, pp. 20-32
  • McNamara, L 2004. ‘Free speech’ in Butler, D. and Rodrick, S., Australian Media Law, Lawbook Co., Sydney, pp. 3 – 23.
  • O’Shaugnessy, M. 1999. Media and Society. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
  • Pearson, M 2007. ‘Identifying defamation’, ch. 7 in The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law, 3rd ed. Allen & Unwin, Sydney, pp. 175 – 200.
  • Solove, D 2007. ‘How the free flow of information liberates and constrains us’, ch. 2 in The Future of Reputation: Gossip rumour and privacy on the internet, Yale University Press, New Haven, pp. 17 – 50.
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