Miss Representation

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I was looking through the blogs I've written to try to decide what to blog about for extra credit when I realized that I'd never blogged specifically about Miss Representation. I thought this was a fantastic documentary. I had watched the first 2/3 or so previously in another class and I still remember how much it resonated with me after that first viewing. I don't think we ever realize how deeply we've internalized some of these things until they're shown to us and there's sort of an "aha!" moment. For example, when they were discussing political efficacy and how female politicians are treated in the media, it was extremely striking for me. It's one thing for celebrities to be criticized for their appearance, but it's entirely different when the same is being done to politicians. That a woman's "cankles" are supposed to have some bearing on her ability to be a good leader is appalling.

It also made me reconsider the way we women judge each other and ourselves. Gill's article on postfeminism talks a bit about this self-surveillance and our need to constantly be vigilant lest we fail to fit society's ideals at any given moment. The media have trained women to be overly critical of each other and that strong female relationships don't function without cattiness and back-stabbing. I've never been the type of person who has a lot of female friends, so this segment of the documentary really made me think about why that is and self-evaluate. All in all, Miss Representation was a very insightful look at how our media are sculpting our perception of the world.

My favorite reading of the semester

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Not sure what my favorite reading was ( I mean what student truly has one?) but I did appreciate Andrejevoic's analysis of iCulture and interactivity. Now we may have disagreed on the idea of there being democracy because of heightened participation and interactivity but this article hits home for me. There are a products that I have or am currently customizing to fit my personal needs such as Nike, Panodra One, Netflix, and my Macbook. This reading wasn't much of an eye opener as much as it was a tool for critically thinking about how advertisers are reaching me as a target audience and the possible consequences of it.

After much thought about the semester, I have come to realize that I learn better when viewing screenings in lecture. More often then not, I reference a screening in my papers. For me, screenings puts the issues of race, class, and gender on a more defined scope, meaning its almost like viewing them with new eyes. I am a consistent viewer of South Park but when the "Apologies to Jesse Jackson" was screened in class, I finally saw the racial implications and references a little more. And even though writing about gave me a low score on the Section 2 paper, the Seinfeld screening was the best for me. I actually had many conversations with coworkers about homosexuality and homophobia in the media. Complicated topic, I'll admit, but a great means of discussion.

iCulture Response

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I completely blanked and forgot to write a blog for today (yikes, too many final projects due this week!), so hopefully this can still count for partial credit.

As an Advertising student, this article was particularly interesting to me because I can see how useful it is to the companies to aggregate all of this information. As shameful as it may be to admit, I think it's really cool. I've often remarked on how super awesome it is that Facebook is omniscient with its ads. I know that makes me sound like a crazy person, but I'm past caring. It's interesting to think about how somewhere out there is a complete record of our lives, whether we like it or not. I'm a very private person and I do understand how my information is being used, so when I do update my Facebook or Twitter, it's typically for purposes of making sure potential employers have evidence of my social media savviness rather than actually communicating something meaningful about my life. For example, I might post something about how much I loathe comic sans as a font and feel that it should be exterminated, but I'm not likely to post something about how much I miss my grandma who passed away recently. Somethings should stay personal.

I have a friend who's studying chemical engineering who often jokes about how he must be on a number of government watch lists because he's always researching how chemicals react and how bombs are made for various papers and projects for his classes. I find this humorous because of how true it is, especially based on the information in Andrejevic's article. It's completely fascinating (to me, at least) to think about how this information (the majority of which must be useless) is collected and sifted through to find the nuggets of insight that will determine the ads we are exposed to. I also kind of love the idea of using consumers to do the really expensive work for free and convince them that it's to their benefit like with Nike iD. I might be a terrible human being. The jury's still out on that one.

Even though we've already had class, I'd still like to post a discussion question on the off chance I might get partial credit: What do people think of Google's "incognito" window option? Do people use this to get around having their information stored or do they see it as a way for these companies to collect information in an even more deceptive way? Do people trust Google/incognito windows?

iCulture Reading Response and DQ

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Andrejevic's chapter "Three Dimension of iCulture" is about society's interactivity and participation with the media. He accounts this new type of interactivity as evidence of a "democratic desire": "Every person wants to say this is more them, and they're not part of mass culture." However, it is in this interactivity and participation with new media that is taking away identity and contributing to mass culture. He divides the chapter into three parts, the three dimensions of iCulture, they are iCommerce, iMonitoring, and iPolitics, he also dedicates a portion to the concept of iCulture itself. The iCommerce section goes into the interactive marketing campaigns of Nike and Proctor and Gamble in the summer of 2005. He mostly focuses on the campaign ran by Nike, which was a huge interactive billboard in Times Square that allowed for any person walking by to call a toll free number and design their very own custom shoe, and be able to see in front of them the shoe being created on the billboard for all of times square to see. The marketing campaign was called NIKE iD. What consumers were doing that they didn't realize was giving Nike free focus groups along with personal information. "Interactive customization creates two products. In the case of Nike, it creates not just an athletic shoe, but also detailed information about consumer preferences. To the extent that this information can be traced back to individual consumers through their cell phone numbers, their credit card numbers, or online forms, the information can be personalized and aggregated" (Andrejevic 26). The democratization the consumers believe they are creating through interactive customization is actually creating free information about them to producers and detailed information about buying habits. He states that what iCulture does is promise participation in what consumers buy, it gives them the notion that they are unique and require special attention to their needs.
The iMonitoring section focuses on the intense amount of information people can get about others through devices like cell phones or the internet. "Activities that once would have bordered on stalking have become routine - a fact with implications not just for the ways in which we represent ourselves to one another, but also the shifting expectations regarding privacy and surveillance" (Andrejevic 35). I found this portion of the reading most interesting because of how prevalent it is in our lives. For example, in college, nothing remains a mystery about someone you meet for more than the time it takes to get on Facebook. You can meet a new person who you really like and instead of getting to know them through them, you can check their Facebook profile and instantly get a snapshot of their life. I hate that. You shouldn't be able to do it, but its something our culture has embraces through the rise of background checks performed by anyone that wants to do one on any person. Sucks.


DQ: When will the monitoring of others on the internet get out of hand? Is it already? How can we gain more privacy?

iCulture Article

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This article was very insightful when dissecting this new age of interactive technology and its effects. According to the article products such as, NikeiD, are creating a world of more democratic choices in products. The unique individuality of products allows the customers to be part of the production and consuming process. However, customers are failing to understand these companies are benefiting from these personalized choices. It allows the companies to collect free data to market more successful to consumers.

The author also addresses products that are increasing the need for voyeurism in our culture. We constantly want to track our kids or know where our spouse is. These personalized technologies that offer this feature are creating a culture that is hooked on surveillance. There have even been products introduced to help law enforcement decrease crime.

Discussion Question:
In the article, the author makes the claim that interactive technology allows the consumer to become involved in creating mass consumer culture trough our individual choices. However, do you think we the audience are creating a new form of culture through personalization or reiterating the current formats in a false facade?

iCulture

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This article had some really profound ideologies about the emerging topic of "iculture". The author breaks the article up into three sections: iCommerce, iCulture, and iMonitoring. For me, the section on iCommerce was most interesting. The beginning of the article is largely dedicated to big name advertisers and the interactive marketing campaigns they executed. Nike was a huge one and probably most dramatic creating a twenty-three-story-high interactive billboard in New York City's Time Square. People could call a number on the billboard and then they would receive a text message relaying where they could purchase, how they could customize and complete their shoe. At first, people were awestruck by this and the media was condoning and applauding a company for finally being interactive with consumers. However, what were they really trying to do? Large companies are always trying to bring in more revenue, and custimization costs more, and also, Nike could use that information sent in my consumers to track, market, and ultimately take that information and make products that are tailored to that feedback. "To the extent that this information can be traced back to individual consumers through their cell phone numbers, their credit card numbers, or online forms, the information can be personalized and aggregated". This custimization campaign was really an alibi for Nike to obtain consumer feedback and monitoring.

DQ: Being interactive with a brand is empowering, but it comes with a cost. That cost is privacy. How can consumers become more knowledgeable and media literate when it comes to interactivity and consumerism?

iCulture

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This discussion is interesting to me especially because of my boyfriend's interest in advertising. He is trying to work in this field after college and loves to talk about different campaigns and effective advertising. Interactive advertising is an interesting approach because of its capitalization on individuality. Constantly the media recognizes what is culturally important, then that object becomes a commodity. The producers sell back our own ideas again and again. This form of production involving the consumer brings these commodities to new levels. Instead of seeking out what is popular, through research, surveys, etc. the population comes to them, creates the product they most desire and pay for their design work. Although there is this idea that it is a democratic version of consumption, it isn't as ideal for the consumer. On the surface the consumer is supposedly getting exactly what they want. Who hasn't thought to themselves "I would like this item of clothing, and the like, if it were a different color"? These producers brings these ideas to the forefront so that they finally have the option. Participating helps these corporations make more money and better understand their audience's desires. This brings up an interesting idea about what will be culturally perpetuated instead of the top-down effect.

DQ: Will more ideas and products be centered around users or will the producers find more ways to maintain a sense of control?

Response to 3 Dimensions of ICulture & DQ

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This is my kind of article! Very interesting read, obviously an article someone in my generation can relate to. Andrejevik addresses how many corporations (Nike mainly) uses interactivity and customization in order to create this direction of democratization for consumers. Throughout the article the author mentions that this notion is deceptive to consumers; furthermore, the real purpose of allowing consumers to customize products is to conduct free consumer monitoring.

First off, I don't necessarily think this is wrong nor am I surprised by it. Businesses exist to make money, point blank period. The fact that Nike, Second Life and other companies use this technique in order monitor how consumers buy is just fine to me. I find myself thinking "DUH" when reading this article because I always thought of companies as innovative money seekers. Also, I strongly disagree with the author's pessimistic view that we as consumers merely possess democratic potential. Maybe there was potential in the 90's but in 2013, democracy lives.

Discussion Question: The author points out that, "The promise of interactivity is that viewers can be cultural producers as well as consumers- that, furthermore, their participatory consumption can be creative and fulfilling." Seeing that we are all part of this generation where interactivity is possible, do you agree with the author's apprehensions toward interactivity or do you disagree? Why?

Three Dimensions of iCulture Response

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The beginning of this article goes pretty in depth with a prime example of iCulture related to Nike shoes. Andrejevic describes the fascinating dichotomy involved in one of the company's major ad campaigns which involved an investment in twenty, 3 story tall billboards in the heart of Times square that allowed people passing by the opportunity to call in to a toll free number and customize every aspect of the giant billboard-sized shoes from their colors to their laces to the graphics on the side, and all of this in real time. While at first glance, this seemed as though a major corporation was finally putting some power into the hands of their consumers. The idea was that the shoes were individualized, you could make a shoe that represented "you" more than it represented the brand. But what sorts of hidden agendas are involved in a campaign like this? All kinds of them! Customized shoes are more expensive to make, first of all. Once consumers design their ideal shoe, they have the option to actually create this shoe and own it in real life with the Nike iD program. Also, hundreds of thousands of consumers are directly telling Nike the tiniest details of their preferences making it easier to create a more profitable shoe in the future.

Television shows like Big Brother and American Idol, where the power to decide who stays on the show and who is sent home is primarily determined by the viewers is another example of this emerging culture where power is supposedly transferred to the people. This article reminds us, "the government cannot assist you at this micro-managerial level, but the technology can: it can help you screen potential employees, lovers, nannies, colleagues-- for a price" (38). There's always a flip-side to these seemingly revolutionary forms of power which is that somebody who occupies even more power than you or I do is directly benefitting.

The individualization of our media through television, advertising, Internet social networking platforms etc. is always being surveilled. It's interesting that we as consumers and people who are interacting with this media are not constantly aware of the fact that our interactions are being watched.

Discussion question: The customization of our preferences for specific colors and styles of Nike shoes and our "likes" on Facebook are two examples of how we can supposedly connect to our media in ways that are unique and individualized to us. But how does a surveillance of our desires by people in positions of power change this process?

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