Reflection on Week 5 Readings

In Chapter 2, it was interesting to read how Price’s links between strategic communications and the freedom of expression. Reading about the institutions in freedom of expressions, a line that caught my attention was: “It is possible to argue that the current rounds of change—including the Internet and the growth of social media—are so much more transformational that they undermine the assumptions of freedom of expression in ways that are qualitatively different from what has gone before.” I also appreciated how Price discussed the changing role of intermediaries.

I was also interested to read the overview in Chapter 6 of the military’s connection to system architecture. This was a reminder that, in some countries, the military and the state go hand in hand, or are basically one-in-the-same.

I am curious to see the long-term effects of China’s investment in telecommunications in Africa. As the Oxford report mentioned in the chapter, “Chinese actors prefer to frame their activities in the media sector as forms of collaboration and exchange…”  But, in the future, will the African nations start to become resistant to Chinese control over their media?

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Week 5 Reflection on Monroe Price

In Chapter 6, one insightful idea Professor Price brought up was the idea of architectural communication, in other words, a systematic, well-organized, interactive communication. Governments and single tycoons are hardly the only innovators and distributors of the national communication system, therefore, as we can see from the case of Burma, media organizations from all over the world got involved, with “that wheel into action to yield change in existing arrangements” as the media assistance of the democracy of this country.

In this chapter, even though Professor Price had mentioned different systems architecture and designs in different countries, I was still curious if the style of architectural communication should also consider the different aspects like social appearance, cultural influence, religion background as well as the demographic history of that specific country, like a venture guess that maybe democracy is not the best way for all?

In Chapter 2, Professor Price particularly explained the freedom of expression, which led me to think about the range of the media expression, especially after visited the Newseum, there were still majority countries remained as NOT FREE and PARTLY FREE in the media freedom. However, I think the freedom really depends based on different time period and public diplomacy with the others. I am sure the media control will be much harder when the country got attack, inverse, it will be much loose of the country is building the national image like before hosting the Olympics. In addition, as refers to Price’s freedom of expression, I’m curious if which is more important? More expressions or more ideas been heard?

September 30: Monroe Reflection

Hey ya’ll, hope the week was a good one…here are some of my thoughts on this weeks readings

I feel like the article’s discussion about the media’s influence is one to reflect on. The media harbors on attraction as they are indeed still a business. In strategic communication with regards to the media, they tend to prefers the notion of shepherding the uninformed masses. This creates a society of ignorance that thrives on quick 15 second news outlets or two line twitter remarks. Regardless, the media is a necessary evil as it provides information and correspondence for the 90% of the masses that would otherwise not be “tuned in” to the global and domestic issues of our day. The term strategic communication is brilliant as it strategically feeds the public with the power to not necessarily think for themselves, but rather sell a message.

I would like to touch on something in the article that also came up in class two weeks ago–the concept of “freedom of expression”. Is there ever a time when the notion that there is ultimate freedom in expression through word or thought, dangerous? I would argue so. We think that we want the public to know, to be informed, and to rise into action, but are we so sure? I would argue and support the old cliche that ignorance is bliss in many situations with regard to security operations. If the mass public knew about sensitive information that they were otherwise previously unaware of, would we feel safer? Would that make America more “progressive” and “democratic”? I believe that someone would argue that communication between the government and its people sometimes needs to be protected as providing the background information to the public is not necessarily the responsible thing to do…considering that 98% of the population is not versed in political discourse.

My last thought is that everyone comes into a situation with their own beliefs, backgrounds, and cultural perspectives. This being said, can you strip your own outlook and be able to actually have successful global communication skills? Do you have to strip your own perspective to be an efficient communication vessel to other culturally founded people? How does the role of personal culture context play with the idea of strategic communication in our globalized society?

Wk 5; Ch’s 2,6, “Strategic Comm & Systems Architecture” Monroe Price

Ch. 2; I find this material related to Strategic Communication to be very cutting edge. It brings great joy to me to be reading a publication that is scientifically dissecting how Strategic Communication is used and for what purposes. Because I feel that it helps to form a basis of identifying what Strategic Communication is, it probably creates a greater awareness for those who can develop a more keen sense of knowing, it helps arm consumers as well to better protect them from propaganda techniques, and it ultimately allows us to build upon what others have done in the field prior to us. When I was an undergrad, I became concerned because I thought I was seeing an influx of disinformation from various sources flooding the radio waves, TV channels, internet, and this disinformation was being consumed by many of those around me and then accepted and repeated all around me in Northeast Ohio. But reading something like this, has given me much more hope that many others are waking up and seeing things in a different light and questioning what the message being told them actually is.

Ch. 2 paragraph 2 touches on a very important topic, that I have seen mentioned numerous times recently. The “battle for hearts and minds”. Since we are currently living in the age of information, it is likely to believe that battles are being fought, not with a sword as much, but rather with the written and spoken language. Some even believe that much of the dramatization of the “war on terror”, is actually being used to launch psychological wars on our hearts and minds. To sort of play on the emotions of individuals, so people across the world will willingly give up basic human rights in return for greater state security. It all seems bizarre, but that is one of the leading battles that I have heard mentioned often and it appears that no particular borders exist, because I have read about and listened to people from many different cultures, describe similar concerns. Whether it is true or not, is not my main focus, I am more interested in knowing how quickly people from all parts of the world will demand more truth, and transparency. To me, it’s inevitable, because the speed at which more individuals are connecting and sharing information is increasing daily, and I feel that the perceived propaganda machines are moving at a slower rate, than individual actions, and new group consensus’s.

Ch6. I liked how the author, verbatim gave the linguistics of a Hillary Clinton speech. I respect that this approach, seems very authentic and unbiased when describing the approach that Hilary took, by showing word for word excerpts of what was being said and contrasting that to China’s view. Also, I believe that it is much easier to use effective Strategic Communication, when the language being used is native to the speaker and is the most widely spoken in the world, i.e. English language may be more effective to achieving a Strategic Communication objective given by a native English speaker to a native or more widely spoken English speaking audience. I’m sure it is probably mentioned in one of the chapters, not yet read.

Sep. 30 Reflection

Price discusses in Chapter 2 that strategic communication prioritizes persuasion over truth. This brings to mind discussions we’ve had in my propaganda class concerning whether or not strategic communications is propaganda. If strategic communications prioritizes persuasion, then isn’t that in essence propaganda?

Price states in Chapter 2 that states that the existence of the state system is “in tension with ideas of globalization and technologies that make border porous.” Connecting this to the Chapter 6 reading, where can we see this in play in current system architectures? How are different countries adjusting their narratives to deal with the tension between an increasingly globalized world and maintaining a national identity?

Price’s discussion about internet strategic architecture brings to mind current debates within the US about internet privacy. Recently, a northern California court rejected Google’s claims that wiretapping laws do not apply to emails sent via Gmail. Google will likely challenge this court ruling, however I feel that the decision has ramifications for notions of “internet freedom.” How do privacy laws fit in within an Internet Freedom strategy?

Sept 30th Readings

This weeks articles seemed extremely relevant as the topics of strategic communication and institutions supporting this practice of free speech have been ubiquitous in recent weeks. 

A main example that comes to mind is the Kenyan Mall Attack. During the Kenyan Mall Attacks the terrorists were live tweeting about their mission and their alliance with Al Qaeda. It leads one to ask, with such transparency, who is regulating venues like Twitter? Where do they draw the line when it comes to freedom of speech and why should a terrorist organization who is inflicting harm people be allowed to spread their messages of hate. Moreover, what kinds of threats does this pose to national security?

These questions are in line with the main themes that I gleaned from the readings. To what limits does a nation have control over the Internet. Price asserts  “A system of free expression assumes that government will effectively be able to implement limitations where it is constitutionally authorized or directed to do so.” In certain spaces governments control freedom of speech on the internet through IP addresses or by blocking cell phone services.

My questions are who has the right to govern digital sovereignty/digital spaces? A government? Supranational entities? Additionally, to what limits do they allow freedom of speech/extreme transparency? Moreover, who are the winners and the losers of the large abundance of social media, news, Internet platforms and increased transparency. After reading I think that legitimacy and national security could be the losers.

I would love to hear what the class thinks.

Hearts, Minds, & Social Turmoil: Strategic Communication, New Media Technologies, & Freedom of Expression

The two provided chapters of Price’s new work, “Hearts, Minds, & Social Turmoil: Strategic Communication, New Media Technologies, & Freedom of Expression,” identify and discuss some trends, assumptions, and possible future pitfalls in the practice of strategic communication. Chapter 2 focuses on free expression, debating the traditional role of media vis-à-vis the developing influence of social media, and the new-ish posture of strategic communications to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of targeted, usually foreign, audiences. Chapter 6 focuses on social frameworks, the “architecture,” of media/information flows systems, and how they have changed overtime. Below are key points I identified.

1. I was impressed by Price’s treatment of free expression and its contribution to Post and Fiss’ concept of “collective self-determination.” As a diplomacy practitioner for the United States Government I can attest that the goal of U.S. Public Diplomacy is two-fold: to tell America’s story; and to promote democracy – using several avenues, one of which is promoting freedom of expression. To promote self-expression U.S. foreign policy employs a variety of activities according to the host environment including use of social media, supporting public dialogue, encouraging the rule of law at the state level, strengthening civic institutions, etc. How much measurable effect this has on freedom of expression toward “collective self-determination” is not verifiable in the immediate term. One hopes to trace any effects a generation or two later in local public opinion of America.

Of course, these efforts do not take place in a vacuum, plenty of other circumstances or factors can shift public opinion as well. I wonder, along the line of Price’s argument about how freedom of expression differs in concept and role with different styles of democracy which we can study – and has an unexamined relation to other, less democratic styles of government – if our efforts to encourage freedom of expression in authoritarian states aren’t having unforeseen consequences. In Mauritania, where I served for two years, I never heard young Mauritanians say “I admire the U.S. example and I think more free expression could help us here,” I generally heard them say “how can I get a visa?”

In his discussion titled “Exit, Voice, and Stability” in the second chapter of his book “Media and Sovereignty,” Price cited Hirschman’s definition for loyalty as “the set of conditions that makes exit somewhat more unlikely and voice a more important mechanism for feedback.” Is it possible that the current U.S. foreign policy to encourage and emphasize “voice” amongst target audiences in foreign nations leads more toward “exit” than “loyalty?” If the spread of “collective self-determination” and stable states are at the core of our national interest, would not also “loyalty” of citizens to their nation, if not their state, be in our national interest?

2. Price raised the changing roles of “free speech intermediaries,” and “the rapid disappearance of familiar intermediaries” which had functioned as “guardians of the public interest.” He names “newspapers, television networks, even state related entities” as formerly filling this role. He goes on to say that strategic communicators including states are now encouraging various internet platforms to act as mediators, and Price cites this as “aiding the government.” I argue that he is right that internet platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and even Amazon and Craigslist may aid governments insofar as their actions coincide with what a government wished, such as age restrictions for certain content available on YouTube or Craigslist, Twitter’s commitment to disable abusive accounts and those held by admitted terrorist organizations (http://talkingpoliticsjomc.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/terrorism-on-twitter/), and Facebook’s extensive data-sharing arrangements (http://watchdog.org/103172/dislike-facebook-admits-to-sharing-personal-information-with-governments-26000-times-in-the-first-six-months-of-2013/).

However, in many cases such actions can also or more-so be viewed as acting as “guardians of public interest” often against what the state may have wished. In 2010 Google very publicly refused to enter a deal for Google China that would allow the Chinese government to censor vast amounts of content, against the desire of that state and commanding the attention of the then U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/arts/jan-june10/google_01-26.html). In 2011 Amazon.UK was petitioned by thousands of users to remove books from its database that were argued to promote child abuse (http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/amazon-refuse-to-carry-books-which-advocate-the-physical-abuse-of-children). In the aftermath of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA records, Google announced that they would encrypt all mail (http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-09-06/business/41831756_1_encryption-data-centers-intelligence-agencies) – and Snowden later reported in a May 2013 open forum interview hosted by reddit that transmittal encryption works (http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/17/encrypting-your-email-works-says-nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden/). These actions were taken out of convictions toward “the public interest” held by each platform and its founder, and in opposition to the stance of a government.

3. In chapter 6, “Strategies of System Architecture,” I very much appreciated the perspectives of other nations’ communication structures. International Communication study itself, as so well espoused by Nitty in earlier weeks, lends itself to a wholly American approach to an American activity, which of course cannot be the case as all nations have systems of domestic communication in place, and have solidified channels of interaction with other nations and the ideas and content produced by other nations. Thus it was refreshing here to have contrasting examples presented, not so much in contrast, but alongside and equal.

What really grabbed my attention was the restructuring efforts taken on by non-state actors, Google and Comcast. Comcast’s example of expansion and influence, traditionally tied as it is to profit by market share and advertising, is perhaps less dynamic (to my thinking) only because it is an old story, a proven business model, and the ad-profits are in the consumer/viewer’s face. What is different about Google? It doesn’t cost the consumer anything! How then, does Google make money, and what is its interest in providing access to such a wide array of content, also made free? According to Google’s own website, “How does Google make money? What is driving Google’s growth? Today, the majority of our revenue comes from advertising. Advertisers are increasingly turning to the Internet to market their products and services. Google AdWords… enables advertisers to deliver relevant ads targeted to search queries or web content… advertisers pay us either when a user clicks on one of its ads or based on the number of times their ads appear on the Google Network.” (http://investor.google.com/corporate/faq.html#toc-money)

So this new system of information architecture may not be founded on such a new platform after all. How different can such structures for information dispersal be in an advertisement-based information structure? In chapter 2, Price referenced C. Edwin Baker, one of whose books is titled “Advertising and a Democratic Press.” Perhaps further study of underlying platforms, such as advertising, the consumer’s vote at the checkout stand (note, Google’s FAQ site notes that most advertisers pay only when a user actually clicks on the advertisements that appear), versus state-sponsored media in part or all should be more closely studied.