May 2013 Archives

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?

Brief Response to Page One or The Newsroom

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I found this screening encouraging when considering the fate of journalism. Like it was noted in the documentary, news itself isnt dying, just the way we obtain it. That's a really important for people to grasp. In my opinion, the way the media is going with accessibility and concision for media users means more participation.

And isnt that what it's all about? Everyone would like to feel like they as individuals can make a difference and are important. This is why Wiki-leaks is such a big deal because knowledge is thrown at the people in a way that completely takes them out of the dark. People are informed, involved and evolved. So the Page One or The Newsroom screening made me more optimistic about the future of journalism and the news because they will never die, just change.

Three Dimnesions of iCulture

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This article was very interesting to me because it completely rebuked the notion that media/goods are for us-- they are made for us to enjoy, but for the makers ends and goals. In the iCommerce part of the article Andrejevic talks about the Nike iD campaign which allowed buyers to personalize their shoes in (almost) any way they wanted. This campaign was supposedly giving the consumers power to decide, but only as far as it advanced the goals of the company. As soon as someone wanted to write "sweatshop" on their shoes, it was denied-- even though they were supposed to be able to customize in any way. This was a view shifting moment for me while reading because we are made to think this personalization is for us, but it really isn't! How many times have I customized something and given my own personal information for virtually free to these companies?

The other part of the article that impacted me was the iPolitics expecially in regards to the information technology. Long gone are the days when politicians truly listen to their constituents, instead they spy. Andrejevic said, "Information technology does not benefit all equally. Those who control the means of interactivity are under no particular obligation to exercise this control democratically..." It's scary to think how much information about us is being collected from us, and we are freely and willingly giving it because of the *small* benefit that we get in comparison to how companies and government benefit.

Should there be more laws about what information can be collected from us as consumers or are we just inevitably going to live in this world? How much is too much, where do we draw the line?

Andrejevic Response & Discussion Question

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I actually really liked this article because I felt like it made a lot of good points about media and technology today that I think we have grown so used to that we don't necessarily notice on our own. The part that I thought was important and particularly interesting in the article was when Andrejevic talked about our ability to keep track of and monitor other people and things so easily now with the Internet and technology.

The article points out that the way we monitor one another and have access any and all information each person has ever put on the internet through things like facebook and google has led to behaviors and norms that in the past would have been seen as scary or unacceptable. The author refers to our internet monitoring as "activities that once would have bordered on stalking" and have not become normal or routine. This is creepy when you think about it. The more I think about the ability for other people to see my every move, the more I question how much privacy I really have and where the line between flattering interest and creepy stalking is. And it's even worse that I am voluntarily putting my information out there when I know the internet never forgets anything.

He also uses the incredibly odd and uncomfortable (in my opinion) example of the panties in the article, which actually prompted a demand and interest, but it also made me think of other examples that we now have to practically monitor every move others make. Whether it is locations now being posted with facebook updates, phones with tracking devices, or even things we talked about in class like employers being able to look up and judge candidates based on their online profiles, this idea of iMonitoring is becoming a major part of our lives.

While I understand innovations in surveillance and security are important, I wonder where we draw the line. But at the same time I feel somewhat conflicted when it comes to certain things like social media because I feel a person should understand the risk of making their pages public and should be held responsible for their image and what they post online. While people can set their social media pages as private it is important to remember that once something is on the internet, it is never really deleted or gone. It is out there for good. I don't know if I have decided who has the most responsibility in maintaining our privacy when there are misleading ideas about how private our information is but also people not taking the necessary precautions. These are just a few things the iMonitoring section of the reading made me think about.

DQ: Do you think people care less about their privacy with new technological and media advances like social media, or do you think people really do not understand the power of the internet and our ability to monitor each other? Do we enjoy this accessibility to other people's lives too much to worry about our own privacy?

Three Dimensions of iCulture

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I found it interesting that I had never heard of the interactive billboard in New York City that Nike created. Even though I don't live in New York, I feel like this is a pretty big step in technology. That's not to say that it deserves to be on the front page of The New York Times, but it is an intricate process that is definitely the first of its kind; it is a form of "participation, customization, and authenticity associated with pre-mass society". The section that probably disturbed me the most was iMonitoring. Once again, I had not heard of one of the examples he used; Forget-Me-Not Panties. When I read about the satisfied father's testimony, I was nearly cringing. Why would a father want to monitor something like that? I think that is a perfect example of taking technology too far. Even though it ended up being a hoax, there were people who read it and still wanted them, it definitely was a weird step in the ability to monitor. iPolitics was a very interesting section, the USHomeGuard system sounds very extensive. For some reason, as soon as I started reading this section, I thought of a movie coming out this year which revolves around the idea that once a year the police will take the night off and essentially the law will be put on hold for 24 hours. After thinking about it a little more, I feel like the reason I thought about it was because it's almost the opposite of the exact point this type of technology would be making. (Making security and monitoring more advanced versus taking a break from it for 24 hours). Great way to end our readings.

Discussion Question: Since the Nike billboard was aimed at the entire public, do you agree with Phil Knight's statement of "NIKEiD brings us back to our roots when we designed and sold shoes one by one out of the trunk of my Plymouth... We have now come full circle." Doesn't this seem a little contradictory?

Three Dimensions of iCulture Response & DQ

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When reading this article for class, I instantly found myself relating to what Andrejevic was saying regarding interactive mass-marketing. I, personally, have participated in the interactive market of Nike, and I have never looked at it in the same light as he is suggesting. It never occurred to me that the company had exterior motives for this personalized internet use, and that it would affect their marketing towards me as a consumer. Before reading this article, I assumed this interactive internet community was allowing me to become a producer as well as a consumer, but as Andrejevic stated, Interactivity promises not a return to the relative lack of anonymity of village life, but rather to a state of affairs in which producers have more information about consumers than ever before, and consumers have less knowledge about and control over how this information is being used" (27). This idea just goes back to the lack of control within the media world. The government and five leaders within media control all aspects of it that we don't even realize.

This article also discussed this idea of an extremely interactive oriented web site, where people are excited and interested in navigating a site. "Like the Nike campaign, the Crest election included interactive, video-game like features..." (26). Similarly to these sites, I have previously visited the Red Frog Events home page where their site contains a basketball shooting game in order to learn more about each event. It shows how fun and consumer-oriented the company is. To most of us consumers, this new web technology gives us a sense of power and ownership, but Andrejevic says otherwise. A final, summarizing quote I found that shows the separation between producers and consumers is shown here, "participation is not always the same thing as power sharing..." (28).

Discussion Question: It is obvious that Andrejevic feels this interactive media is more negative than beneficial for its users. Even though it gives insider access of ourselves to these companies, is it necessarily a bad thing? As consumers, we willingly buy and post things on the internet fully knowing producers have access to this information, so in this aspect, is it their fault or our own responsibility to acknowledge and proceed with caution on these sites?

Andrejevic Response/DQ

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Mark Andrejevic's chapter on Three Dimensions of iCulture discusses the ramifications of the evolving global market. He talks about the marketing strategy of Nike, who launched an interactive campaign allowing customers to design their own sneakers. Andrejevic says that "interactivity is the invocation of nostalgia for a lost sense of community, and the forms of participation, customization, and authenticity retroactively associated with pre-mass society"(p. 14). In other words, the consumer has become the producer. One problem of individualistic marketing and consumerism is the degree of limitations. For instance, when an individual wanted "sweatshop" customized on their sneakers, Nike intervened, saying they did not want that message associated with their company. The power does not completely rest with the people.
'iCulture' is the promise of interactivity. Andrejevic uses the example of an online website where authors could contribute anonymously to a book of poetry. Creativity is more accessible than ever. Andrejevic also addresses some effects of monitoring and surveillance. One example he uses is the "Forget-Me-Not-Panties," which was a viral hoax that revealed the feasibility of "do-it-yourself use of monitoring technology" (p. 19). In a post 9/11 world, surveillance has become very common through use of the Internet or cell phones to track or background check others.

We see the great things that technology can be used for, but do we want to live in a world where we have little or no privacy? Can we use technology as a tool for legitimate security without being overly invasive?

Three Dimensions of iCulture

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The part I found most intersting about this reading was the discussion of monitoring today. It speaks to how today with technology we can constantly monitor people. Also, the methods that we use to monitor or keep track of people today would have been seen as creepy or weird a few decades ago and today it is the norm. I think that parents should know where their children are but I do not think they should go to lengths where they end up invading their child's privacy. Some parents, in my opinion are just too nosy. This also brings up the common debate as to whether employers should be able to access potentional employees Facebook pages. I think this absolutely ridiculous. Facebook, at least for me, is my social space to share with my friends and family. It is a mostly private space where I can share what I'm doing, my photos, interactions, and associations. Just because I like to drink a beer on a Friday doesn't mean that I can't perform well at my job on Monday morning. I think there should be a distinct line drawn between the professional and personal life. If one is embarressing their company in their personal life or their personal life is affecting the company, then there is a problem. It is nice today to have these resources of monitoring available to us however, I think that some people take advantage of these resources and cross lines of privacy.

DQ: Do you think that employers should have the ability to view potential employees Facebook pages?

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