Deuze’s article on convergence culture brings to mind some questions we’ve thrown around in class. One is this idea of a ‘gatekeeper.’ We’ve discussed large transnational media corporations as gatekeepers of news media. Deuze briefly discusses that participatory media has diluted that power to a position of “gatewatcher, monitoring rather than reporting news.” To what extent is this really true? On one end, it can be argued that the global reach and power of corporations like News Corp and CNN give them the ability to control what news is reported on, thus giving them a ‘gatekeeper’ position. However, it can also be argued that news media is subject to ratings and must, at some point, report on what their audience desires to watch.
Deuze also states that “the current media environment as one where people are increasingly engaged in the collaborative production of we media… seemingly for no other motives than peer recognition and reputation.” From an advertising perspective, I would argue that the most engagement comes out of media that feeds into a consumer’s need for instant gratification. Here I’m considering “engagement” as interaction with an ad beyond a simple impression, a means of participation in a sense. A campaign I worked on back in 2011 did just this with the help of google goggles. (Article here) Essentially, people that scanned any ad (print, tv, outdoor, online, etc) would unlock a piece of content, whether it be a song download or a smartphone wallpaper. These ads were symbiotic for the advertiser and audience because consumers walked away with tangible content while the advertiser received consumer behavior information based on the number of scans per media type. All of Deuze’s case studies exhibit this same symbiotic relationship. However, I feel as though the people that participate within each of the examples are the “super fans” or “peers” of the respective communities since all they are getting is “peer recognition and reputation.” I think a wider audience could be cast in each community if there was some physical incentive for the consumer.
I think that the foundation Miller’s argument, “the economic and institutional structures producing media are the best way in which we can classify them – to what extent these industries are, or could be, a part of dominant global cultural industry networks” can be applied beyond media. Essentially, her argument attempts to deconstruct what brings a product together in order to understand it within a larger framework. This is the key to international communications. One of the first things we discussed our first week was the importance of cultural knowledge and context. Having a strong background in the “economic and institutional structures” of a nation or community we engage with is the best way to understand the context in which communication must be implemented.
These 3 issues are my main thoughts about this week’s readings:
1. What is the future for the concept of “We media” (Deuze, p. 247) such as Wikipedia? It seems that people rely more and more on such sources of information, students at schools and even universities get much of their knowledge from such sources. How will it influence the future of knowledge in the global society? On the one hand today to the best of my knowledge Wikipedia is still monitored and mostly written or corrected by experts, but how long will it stay that way? Is “common wisdom” really a wisdom?
2 Deuze also speaks about the “flattening of hierarchy between media industry and consumers” (p. 256). This idea and Castell’s article for this week made me contemplate about the future of journalism in the era of participatory content production. I’ve just read two very interesting articles on the subject:
“Slaves of the Internet Unite” from the daily Beast
“Writing for Free” from The Atlantic
both speak about the increasing tendency of editors requesting writing services as well as other content creation for free. It used to be perceived as a good stage for young writers and even we as students are encouraged to submit Op-Eds and articles to different publication to “get our name to out there”. But where does it end? What will these practice bring to the future of journalism? Is it possible that journalism as a single profession will cease to exist?
3. The issue of alternative networks as discussed in Miller’s article about Nollywood: how far can these networks go? It seems from the case of Nollywood that the global dominance of Hollywood and western productions in general is a matter of time. Will these networks contribute to more cultural diversity and open kindness or will industries such as Nollywood simply replace the existing dominators?
In Cultural Change in a Globalized World, Castells discussed, interestingly, the shift from broadcasting to audience targeting (or narrowcasting according to Deuze 2007). This was attributed to the fact that new technologies resulted in better ways to reach target audiences. Audiences, in addition, were no longer just passive receivers of information but actively engage in the use of the diverse media technologies available. This resulted in a “paradigm shift” from prime time to my time in media consumption. It was interesting to note the large role played by culture here. Castells discussed the idea of shared global cultures manifest in three levels; cosmopolitanism, multicultural global culture, and consumerism. These three concepts formed complex interactions through increasingly diverse sources of cultural identification played out in a global platform through networked media.
Deuze in Convergence Culture in the Creative Industries, presented a similar picture of convergence patterns in media production and consumption. It was interesting to read Deuze’s ideas of narrowcasting and audiences becoming “filters” in greater control of the content they were exposed to and of gatekeepers becoming gate watchers in the new media arena. An interesting display of role reversal and power shifts to the periphery seen in the readings of November 28 (Netpolitik). This brings to mind the class discussion with Charlie Firestone when he posed the question on the net as a second superpower. Deuze discussed an interesting paradox when he stated “it is interesting to note here how convergence culture signifies increased as well as diminished corporate control over the creative media making process at the same time.”
Miller (2012) in Global Nollywood: The Nigerian movie industry and alternative global networks in production and distribution, discussed the reality and ability of Nollywood to thrive in interesting circumstances. Despite reduced returns from production and distribution of movies as a result of several factors amongst which was piracy, the Nigerian film industry succeeded in filling niche markets. Through informal distribution channels, the industry achieved greater success in distribution than formal top-down networks thus resulting in Nollywood becoming a dominant part of the global cultural industry networks. It’s interesting to note the role the network architecture played in this process (periphery to periphery) of connecting the Nigerian media to the rest of the world. This touches on our readings of network architecture earlier on in the semester. It was also interesting to read the dividends to this industry without any effort from the government (Miller, 2012) – the bulk of the cultural diplomacy of Nollywood occurs simply in the actors and movies popularizing Nigerian manners of dress, speaking, and living…it is a powerful soft power.
In The Rise of Netpolitik: How the Internet Is Changing International Diplomacy, the concept of netpolitik ties in previous themes that we have discussed so far this semester such as the role of media in shaping politics. Madeleine Albright made a series of insightful comments in the report such as “The rise of CNN and the Internet has greatly shortened the time horizons of diplomatic decision making,” and then “All these large numbers of information systems make diplomacy much harder to carry on because the information comes in very fast and you have to make decisions much faster than you might under previous circumstances. Everybody wants an answer right away.” This brings to mind the recent news about the US bugging German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone which has snowballed over the past few days. Not long after dealing with a similar scandal with the Brazilian president Dilma Roussef, the US is scrambling once again to do damage control. I wonder if there can ever be balanced information as nations have to deal with what the report describes as “tension between velocity of information and judgment?”
People/Networks/Power summarized many challenges with which the US struggles in its diplomacy efforts in the Middle East. This report was written in 2004 but, almost a decade later, the improvements in relations with Middle East haven’t significantly improved. John W. Rendon, one of the roundtable participants quoted in the article spoke of focus group studies, mostly in the Middle East, which highlighted “three Americas…
whose images are based on personal relationships and experiences; multinational corporations; and U.S. foreign policy.” Following on to this assessment, I was curious to know if the proposal for “Radio Understanding” talk radio station mentioned in the Soft Power, Hard Issues report led to the actual creation of the station. But, unfortunately, it appears that the project didn’t get off the ground.
A theme that I pulled from the readings today was the changing scope of communications and how this global communications system must adjust in a world where technologies transcend time and space.
A quote I particularly liked from the “People / Networks / Power” article reads:
The new communication systems are not simply conduits of information; they constitute a wholly new sort of global nervous system
I was drawn to this quote because it underscores how these innovations in technology and the way we communicate are not just affecting the mediums of communications but also the information itself. The entire core system of how we communicate is changing and thusly having an effect on every aspect of our world from culture to politics.
This is evident in the article “Soft Power,Hard Issues” when they discuss the old and new forms of public diplomacy. Our communication world has evolved into such a interconnected, network-driven “nervous system” that it trickles down to our way of engaging in public diplomacy. It affects how our country engages with others– moving us away from a unilateral, polarized state towards a multilateral, cooperative, “network” state. These changes (shown below) are all more about interconnectivity and teamwork than about individualism and polarization. My question is, is the way we communicate/the changing scope of communication the main force in this change in relationship with foreign countries?
About us –> About them
Bilateral –> Bi- and multilateral
Managing images –>Building relationships
Reactive –> Proactive
A second point that I found interesting was the connection between the role of communication in national identity. We have spoken about this theme quite often in class and it was a topic on our midterm exam. In the readings this week, they discussed how some countries’ governments authoritarian rule is strengthened by it’s ability to harness the Internet censorship (Asian states, Middle Eastern states, and Cuba, for example). In contrast, as we have discussed often in class, in most parts of the world communication and culture are no longer confined within national borders. There are many efforts in highly censored countries from individuals or groups to counteract the government censorship (as we read last week in the activism article). I would like to see more date on how successful those efforts are/how successful the governments are at controlling these voices. Is there any way we could know this information?
The major theme from this week’s readings regarding “The rise of the Neopolitik” discussed the Internet’s influence on intercultural relationships and the progress made within public diplomacy. The advances the Internet has created to bridge what is known with what is acted on has given everyday citizens, nonprofits, and smaller nongovernmental organizations a way to interact and become the changing forces within the international community. Although, we can clearly see the benefits of participating in a global network, the Internet’s use has been manipulated to increase the power of networks typically responsible with shaping world relations. As noted in David Bollier’s article, “The Rise of the Netpolitik” he emphasizes the role the Internet plays within public diplomacy in a grand soft power attack. He uses the suggestions by Warring Partridge, who implies that the internet can enhance management, protocols, recruitment, education programs, and language skills within the official government departments. But how can everyday citizens participate in public diplomacy, a role typically reserved for the State Department?
The “Soft Power, Hard Issues” article written by Shanthi Kalathil addressed what Bollier touched on regarding an issue that, “is not just how U.S. values can be disseminated to affect global values…[but an] influence [that] will be both ways”(Bollier, 20). In order to promote this change and relationship within public diplomacy, Kalathil suggests that, “truly new public diplomacy should focus on creating access to the Internet to encourage bottom-up competing voices and vibrant discussion” (Kalathil, 19). Her suggestions focus on engaging “voice-less” audiences and promoting a shared platform for countries to participate in collective dialogue. If international public diplomacy were to adopt a fair influence within all countries, how would it affect the United States, which doesn’t gain as much international influence or exposure than the countries we have influenced ourselves?
My last question focuses on “People/Networks/Power” by Bollier, and I was struck by the quote that the Internet has become a ‘“platform for social software…[which] offers all kinds of new ways to create memberships, to participate, and construct grand narratives”’(Bollier, 34). I quickly referred to the definitions that explored the varying uses of propaganda, and I wondered if anyone thought of public diplomacy as a form of propaganda?