Archive for the ‘ Academic Discussions and Summaries ’ Category

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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Remixing the past as a new language form for the media literate generation

After ning screwed me over with my last attempt at this post I will merely say this.. Screw you ning! Fix your publish button!!!

So to start again, and now that I am all worked up and angry at ning, I will take it out on the copy right, so yes this is a bias review, it was in the first place, but then you would know

that if ning didn’t bloody malfunction, so, sorry in advance if it sounds

snappy or rushed!

The whole concept behind RIP is the Remix Manifesto and the battle between copyleft and copyright (with copyright representing the corporate and copyleft representing the consumer.)

The remixer’s manifesto is as follows;

1. Culture always builds on the past

2. The past always tries to control the future

3. Our future is becoming less free

4. To build free societies you must limit the control of the past

Considering that the original intent of the internet was to share information and ideas point 3 seems a bit  redundant, if anything with the internet and advances in Web 2.0 one would think that freedom would not be restricted, but it has. The media literate generation that emerged due to the internet’s creation have turned from mere consumers to creators by utilizing the vast amounts of data on the internet so as to express an themselves (through either ideas, art, self expression etc.)

However, with the use of another person’s intellectual property comes the thundering corporate, who tower over all and attach sub texts to the images that they themselves sent forth into both the ideoscape and more importantly the mediascape. It is as if the corporate has led us by the hand sat us down and said ‘look at this image, absorb it, aspire to it, allow it to influence your thoughts, actions and culture, but.. if you use any of our

images, music or media in any way that we do not see fit, which is t say any way at all, and this is published then we will charge you upto $150,000 per mp3 you use, take away part of your soul, offer a 5 year sentence in prison as well as stifle your creativity, your ability to express an opinion and your ability to express yourself, we are legion’

If allowed to go un opposed, these corporations would seek to stop people’s ability to remix their media and

so “generate silence”; which in turn would destroy the new form of literacy developed by the media literate for the new century. From RIP it is clear that the corporate have become an every greedy presence, attempting to shape and influence our culture, or rather, they are attempting to us from shaping and influencing our own culture.

Reference;

  • Reference; reading: Arjun Appadurai 1990, ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,’ Theory Culture Society 7: pp.295-310
  • RIP: A Remix Manifestos (http://ripremix.com/getdownloads/)
  • Terry Flew 2007, ‘Global Media Corporations,’ Understanding Global Media, London, Palgrave 5 23 August Global Creative Industries

p.s. I didn’t hate ning, but now I do, haters gonna hate when you go deleting their blog entries, and haters gonna especially hate when you don’t allow me to format!!!




Propaganda in Motion; War, Peace and Terrorism (WW1 to present day)

One thing I liked about this paper is how angry it got me, by the end I was grinding my teeth about the concepts of censorship, propaganda and the overall whoring of the media. To start there are three major events that changed the way people were/are able to persuade the mass audience.

  • Industrialization (the printing press, as one example)
  • The emergence of mass media
  • The emergence of mass democracies

Louw’s paper read much like a narrative, taking you along the logical events of the past to the outrageous events of the present, but without getting to far off course, I will start with the past. The earliest form of war propaganda started with the American Civil War . Due to the higher kill rates thanks to new war machines a new machine needed to be built, a propaganda machine, this was used to encourage volunteers and re-supply the ranks. Then we move onto a more famous use of war propaganda, sparked by the England in 1914 (World War I.) Here not only was propaganda produced, but the mass media censored so as to provide more support to the propaganda. This was done through the negation of any negative news, the hype up of positive news and the arousal of patriotism through use of the narrative and heroes, another example I would like to add is demonizing the enemy (very important in relation to war propaganda), which was by far the greatest influence in recruiting, by making the fight a noble and just cause against an unspeakable tyrant. This propaganda model was not only effective in Britain, but in Germany as well, with the rise of World War 2 the Goebbel’s perfected propaganda machine was rolled out. (This is where I really got into it) Goebbel’s built his propaganda machine on the assumption that the masses were passive and mentally lazy, thus allowing the creation and imprinting of “truths” within the minds of the masses (this was mostly achieved through repetition, repetition, repetition.) Some of the major influences over the minds of the public were a new addition to the old build of the propaganda model and included (and see if you can think of a country who uses any of these techniques at present);

  • Seemingly personal talks given by the party leader in question
  • Representatives who are viewed with public favour (usually members of the public who spread positive thoughts about ‘said political leader’ while at public events – these were usually at parties, get togethers and so on and so forth)
  • Utilizing film, radio and newspapers to reach the masses
  • Moulding public opinion through emotive imagery, usually shown in newsreels
  • Making new technology (wireless radio sets) cheaper (and more popular) so as the spread of information to the masses is easier to maintain (this became a nation building tool for Germany in World War 2)

In hindsight, if one were to overlook what Goebbels was working toward he could be thought of as a genius, the methods he used in his propaganda model were revolutionary and are used to this day. While I could dwell on the propaganda spread by U.S. and England at this point I am going to move right onto The Vietnam War where propaganda was revealed for the treacherous tool it is. That and Britain and the U.S. ended up basing their propaganda on the same methods as the Nazi’s, which I find a bit hypocritical.

Propaganda in The Vietnam War was uncontrolled (if you consider there was any control to begin with),  this failure to control the media led to one conclusion, that is the mass is not controlled the result is hegemonic disruption. The US military took this lesson to heart and learned to ‘public relations-ize warfare’ as Louw calls it, which he later nicknamed PR-ization warfare. 

In 1982 America did a trial on PR-izing warfare with the Falklands War, here the media (usually one or two people) were transported with the military, in a sense they were

‘trapped’, so the military corralled the media and hence controlled it by creating a media blackout, so the only images coming back to the mainland were ones controlled by the government.

Then we have The Gulf War, where warfare became what Louw calls ‘Nintendo Warfare’ by excluding images of dead bodies, blood, brutality and gore and instead portraying war as a low risk with lots of tanks driving around and people patrolling and helping locals. The war was portrayed as ‘clean’ and almost devoid of suffering or death, in place of blood and dead bodies were ‘weapon counts’ and the destruction of inanimate objects, such as bridges and buildings. This then morphed into what I call the ‘Mario Complex’ where a victim is created that needs rescuing, like in Mario, this victim is helpless and the people fighting the war must overcome challenges and traverse terrain so as to be welcomed into the loving arms of the victim (more on this later.) So while all the blood and brutality of the Allied troops is ignored the brutality of the demonized enemy is portrayed in full, usually with the enemy/opposition displaying brutality towards the victim (hence why they need to be saved by America, uh, I mean, Mario)

Another example of Nintendo Warfare is the current War on Terror . Here we find pictures of happy civilians in Afghanistan, with the majority of images portraying the allied nations as a helping hand which was desperately needed, this then furthered with the recent capture and Execution of Saddam Hussein . The 2003 Iraq War was PR-ized as follows;

  • Saddam Hussein was Demonized, reported as having weapons of mass destruction (WMD.) Reported as having links with al-Qaeda (even though al-Qaeda/Osama bin Laden were intensely hostile to Hussein’s secular regime. Spin Doctors persuaded the majority of Americans that Hussein was implicated in 9/11 attacks and that he was hoarding WMD
  • War was justified by creating victims (Iraqi citizens) to be rescued from a villain (Saddam’s tyrannical regime.) On this point filtered repetition was used to enforce the point
  • Nintendo war was portrayed

Taking a quick step back to the Gulf war, the media was still being controlled in the by deploying the ‘media liaison strategy’ (as in Falklands War) however the villain-victim model came under strain when the Iraqis failed to welcome their ‘US liberators’. After this Saddam’s statue was toppled (which was a very well PR event) and President Bush (prematurely) declared the war over. The main problems with the end result of this war, was that the truth was not hidden to the extent that it should of (assuming the US government wanted to maintain the hero persona.) Some examples of this (as well as the US spin) include;

  • Lowering the burden of proof as to what constitutes a WMD find
  • Creating plausible deniability (suggesting that Iraq destroyed the WMD before or during the war)
  • Shifting the focus to the brutality and torture used by Saddam’s regime
  • Suggesting that those that opposed US occupation were a minority which proved that Iraq should be treated cautiously in case there was a wider ‘war on terrorism’
  • Bush administration PR lost control over the images coming out of Iraq
  • 2004 images of US troops torturing Iraqis

The later is an interesting case, when the images of torture emerged in 2004 concerning Abu Ghraib prison. Rather than defend their own people the American PR machine turned on them, portraying them as ‘rotten apples’ from a bad socio economic background, generally they were scapegoat-ed by the Bush administration so as to disassociate such negative images from any future war endeavours.

So what about peace? How is it sold to us? I don’t have as much to say about the selling of peace, just one thing, and it’s not really mine to say, but rather attributed to Winston Churchill, but of unknown origin; “History is written by the victors.” Where peace is the result of a hegemonic nation which has become established through war/conflict

Reference; Louw, P E 2005. ‘Selling War/Selling Peace’ ch. 10 in The Media and Political Process, Sage, Londond, pp. 210-235

*NOTE- The images that are a bit graphic are the only negative images I can find on the internet that reveal the war in Iraq in a negative light, such has been the tight control over image circulation. And I have been searching for the past 2 hours

The Propaganda Model and Limited Freedom Within the Mass Media

Chomsky, through his paper expresses the limited freedom within the mass media and its confines, or rather its weaknesses, through a number of examples such as the shooting of Libyan planes, civilian casualties and human rights, Chomsky exposes the media for what it is, a buyable resource. That is, usually to produce mass media the price of the media would cover production, but as advertisements became introduced the cost lowered as the media source was compensated by a corporate sponsor who wanted more of their advert/message to be seen/read.
The paper then continues that this not only applies to adverts but to stories as well, where a story that could be seen as harmful to a corporate is not shown due to the negative bias it would create in viewers, therefore it makes more sense for the corporate to try and control what

is released to the public through the mass media. This is summed up as the propaganda model, which sets out a list of ‘filters’ set into the media by the corporate or rather than the corporate, the highest bidder.

To quote, Chomsky describes the roots of the propaganda model as;

  1. ‘size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth and profit orientation of the mass-media firms’ (size, ownership, and profit orientation os the mass media)
  2. ‘advertising as the primary income source of the mass media’ (the advertising license to do business)
  3. ‘the reliance of the media on information provided by the government, businesses and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power’ (sourcing mass-media news)
  4. ‘”flak” as a means of disciplining the media’ (flak and the enforcers)
  5. ‘”anticommunism” as a national religion and control mechanism’ (anticommunism as a control mechanism)

That sounds quite fancy doesn’t is? So I thought I would break it down with my own interpretation. Rather then describing the roots of the propaganda model as a set of news ‘filters’ I think it is best to say that; Chomsky argues that the every day form in which media is presented is constantly being altered, the original purpose of spreading something as simple as news has been tailored to the tastes of the corporate so as to shape the opinions of the general

public. The five ways in which Chomsky says the media is being altered is through;

  1. Commercial gains of the Corporate, with the larger and more corporation having more say over how the media is represented
  2. The fact that the largest profits for networks lies in their advertisements heavily influences them to show more adverts and less time for programs
  3. The disassociation from the “truth” by fabricating sources and evidence as approved of by the corporate so as to create bias within the viewer
  4. Strict criticism by the viewer is the only means any body has to discipline the media, in retrospect, this is an extremely weak form of discipline, as over time the effects of a criticism against a network fades
  5. Through discourse a hegemonic bias is created within viewers so as to allow easier control over the audience.

Reference; Chomsky, N 2002. ‘A propaganda model’ in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Random House, NY, pp 1-35