Information Media In The Era Of Web Data Glut: Mass Society Being Overrun by Technology,Technique & Emerging Gizmos
'Techne' - Technique
We need to evaluate and interrogate the social, economic, and philosophical meaning of the effects and affects of Technology and Technique on the Web Data on Mass Media and Mass Society, i.e., the Web's transmitted content, and its form and means of transmission and how this in end, when disseminated by the media, and received by the masses, what are the effects and affects thereof. We need to re-examine our assumptions of what we understand about the Media and how we understand Information/Media and the effects and affects of technical gadget and their social use; what is it in using and understanding the new and emerging technologies that effects and affects us, so we can be able to help ourselves to see beyond the banal assertion that ours has become a 'mediarized' mass society, and maybe we can better understand that society and how it is 'affected' and 'effected' and does the same to us.
Frederick Engels's law asserts that technique has passed the 'stages of quantity to quality' in its evolution within the midst of mass society. I tend to then phrase it as, 'We have had a reversal of technique's evolution having passed over several stages in as many decades from quality to quantity within the present new Internet technology era of the computer and the Internet and its enabling convergence for different technologies, that in the end it might be overwhelming us as a data-filled and spewing entity that keeps on adding billions of information per second and ever expanding like some viral nervous system-like variation.
In the end, it is the mind being replaced by the Internet/Web, and we are surrendering our intellectual spontaneity and freedom to the Internet and socially converging emerging technologies with their technicized media. This Hub develops and works on these themes to basically understand how these new converging technical systems, i.e., Media and their techniques, effect and affect Mass media data and gadgets are consuming mass society of these media-information/technical gadgets and societies, have changed the Mass Media and Mass Society in ways unfathomable only a decade ago, and have been introduced in our mass society and collective consciences at amazing speed and breath-taking changes, that they have also become the norm, fostering a change by creating a dependency in us on them.
The denizens of the technological state of the present and future are having and going to have everything their hearts will ever desire, except, of course, their freedom. Admittedly, modern man, forced by technique to become in reality a non-creator and without residue the imaginary producer-consuming of the classical economists, shows disconcertingly little regard for his lost freedom; but, there are ominous signs that human spontaneity,which in the rational and ordered technical society has no expression except madness, is only too capable of outbreaks of irrational suicidal destructiveness.
It would seem that the Technological Society, like everything else, bears within itself the seeds of its own destruction. So that, it would seem to me that the reduction of everything from quality to quantity is partly a cause, and partly an effect, of the modern omnipresence of computing machines and cybernated information in the web and other technological gizmos and gadgets. These are being invented and reproduced very fast, and the technique is used as a pipeline or conduit , or highway. Most everyday conceptions of successful interpersonal and intrapersonal or media communication essentially depend upon "aim, point and shoot" transportation assumptions.
But even while we try to cling to transportation metaphors like "the Information Superhighway," computer have changed us irretrievably. Producers do have audiences in mind, direct messages toward those audiences, and try to get their points across. Aim, Point and Shoot. Modernized culture overvalues packaging and commercialization, and has to create consumers for all its packaging and packages. If it is to be grasped in its full impact, modernization must be regarded as a process by which specific clusters of institutions and contents of consciousness are transmitted. Messages are deigned to span the gap from Sender to Receiver. The metaphor of this "accrossness," this "Directness" is revealing and could be illustrated simply:
A ----------------------------------- [message/package] ---------------------------- B
Access ... signifies the ability to do what everybody else can do and to make use of what everybody else can use; access means the liberty to take advantage of resources(Wurman, 1990, p.45) This model has come back to be used in the modern technological gadgets of Social Media for its directness.
The abundance lies not only in the manipulation of text on one's own computer and data storage, but also in the magical word which will replace libraries: access. As we will see in this hub, the nature of digital text is characterized by linkage in an essential way- Directness, which as we shall see has given birth to a new communication phenomenon on the Web through interconnectivity of the new and emerging technological gadgets and ways of communicating.
The new media now fueled by an on-line culture are moving inevitably in the direction of a listening model. Immersion, co-authorship, interdependence, and interpretive responsibility are the keys to this new model. The Mind, it should not be forgotten, plays a role in all this and in the end , will have the most pivotal role as we immerse, interconnect, become interdependent on each other and interpret the old, new and emerging techniques and technology and media. We an simply start by looking at TV viewing habits in the following piece.
According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop T-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will spent 9 years glued to the tube.
I. FAMILY LIFE
Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99
Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
Numbers of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours 47 minutes
Percentage of Americans that regularly watch TV while eating dinner: 66
Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
Value of that time assuming an average wage of $5/hr: $1.5 trillion
Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56
Number of videos rented daily in the U.S.: 6 million
Number of public library items checked out daily: 3 million
Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49
Approximate number of studies examining TV's effects on children: 4000
Number of minutes per week that parents spend meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,580
Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children's TV watching: 73
Percentage of 4-6 years-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
Hours per year the average American youth spend in school: 900
Hours per year the average American youth watches TV: 1500
Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elemenary school: 8000
Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000
Percentage of Americans who believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem: 79
Number of 30econd TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
Percentage of survey participants (1993) who said that TV commercials aimed at children make them materialistic: 92
Rank of food products/fast-food restaurants among TV advertisements to kids: 1
Total spending by 100 leading TV advertisers in 1993: $$15 billion
V. Percentage of local TV News broadcast time devoted to advertising: 30
Percentage devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war: 53.8
Percentage devoted to public service announcements: 0.7
Percentage of Americans who can name the Three Stooges 59
Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court
The Statistics above were compiled by TV-Free America in Washington, DC.
Influence of TV
For decades, research and studies have demonstrated that heavy television-viewing may lead to serious health consequences. Now the American medical community which has long-voiced its concerns about the nation's epidemic of violence, TV addiction and the passive, sedentary nature of TV-watching, is taking on a more activist stance, demonstrated by its endorsement of National TV-Turnoff Week.
The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school. By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000. At a meeting held in Nashville, TN in July, Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association (an endorser of National TV-Turnoff Week), said if 2,888 out of 3,000 studies show that TV violence is a causal factor in real-life mayhem, "it's a pubic health problem." The American psychiatric Association addressed this problem in its endorsement of Nation TV-Turnoff Week, stating that, "we have had a long standing concern with the impact of television on behavior, especially among children."
Millions of Americans are so hooked on television that hey fit the criteria for substance abuse as defined in the official psychiatric manual, according to Rutgers University psychologist and TV-Free America board member Robert Kubey. Heavy TV viewers exhibit five dependency symptoms - two more than necessary to arrive at a clinical diagnosis of substance abuse. These include: 1) Using TV as a sedative; 2) Indiscriminate viewing; 3) feeling loss of control whilst viewing; 4) feeling angry with oneself for watching too much TV; 5) inability to stop watching; and 6) feeling miserable when kept from watching.
Violence and addiction are not the only TV-related health problems. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey released in October 1995 found 4.7 million children between the age of 6-17 (11% of this age group) to be severely overweight, more than twice the rate during the 1960s. The main culprits: inactivity(these same childrn average more than 2 hours of television-viewing a week) and a high-calorie diet. A 1991 study showed that there were and average of 200 junk food ads in four hours of children's Saturday morning cartoons.
According to William H. Deitz, pediatrician and prominent obesity expert at Tufts University School of Medicine, "The easiest way to reduce inactivity is to turn off the TV set. Almost anything else uses more energy than watching TV." Children are not the only Americans suffering from weight problems; one-third of American adults are overweight. According to an American Journal of Public Health study, an adult who watches three hours of TV a day is far more likely to be obese than an adult who watches less than one hour. Sometimes the problem is not too much weight; it's too little.
Seventy-five percent of American women believe they are too fat, an image problem that often leads to bulimia or anorexia. Sound strange? Not when one takes into account that female models and actresses are twenty-three percent thinner than the average woman and thinner than ninety-five percent of the female population .(TV-Free America) These are some of the effects and affects of TV mass media technology and programming on both children and adults
Mass Society in the Technological Era
It is a truism to state that contemporary society is becoming a mass society. The 'process of massification," 'the accession of the masses" have been thoroughly studied and understood. Less well understood, however, is the fact that the man of the present is not spontaneously adapted to the new form of society. Previous societies took their character to a very large degree from the men in them. Technical or economic conditions imposed certain sociological structures, and the form society took expressed the psychology of the individual.
This is no longer true. The process of massification takes place not because man of today is nature mass man, but for technical reasons. Man becomes a mass man in the new framework imposed upon him because he is unable to remain for very long at variance with his milieu. The adaptation of men to a mass society is not yet an accomplished fact; and recent research in the field of psychoanalytic sociology has revealed the gap which exist between man and the collective society, a gap which is the cause of the disequilibrium. Every society has norms which represent a criterion of the normal.
When these norms change their character, a disturbance of equilibrium ensues and, for the man who has not kept pace with the changes, neurosis. There is no doubt that the norms of our civilization have changed for reasons which are not "human"; men as a whole had no desire for the changes that occurred nor did they work toward them consciously. Indirect influences have operated on the norms of modern society; and these norms have been transformed without men knowing what was happening.(Ellul) The outcomes of modes of communication promulgated by the new emerging digital contraptions cannot be missed as one reads further into the hub as to how these function and how they effect and affect us as a mass society and our mass minds.
Mind Over Web Data
In the book the Secrets of The Ages, the reorganization and power of the Mind and its abilities has been stated as follows: "Now we know that this infinite Good is not more available to one than it is to all. We know that the only limit to it is our capacity to receive. If you had a problem with mathematics to work out, you would hardly gather together the necessary figures and leave them to arrange themselves in their proper sequence. You would know that while the method or solving every problem has been figured out, you have got to work it. The principles are there, but you have got to apply them.
The first essential is to understand the principle - how it works - how to use it. The second - and even more important - is to APPLY that understanding to the problem in hand. In the same way, the Principle of Infinite energy, Infinite Supply, is ever available. But that Energy, that Supply, is static. You've got to make it dynamic. You've got to apply your understanding in order to solve your problems of poverty , discord , disease. Science shows that it is possible to accomplish any good thing. But distrust of your ability to reach the goal desired often hold you back and failure is the inevitable result.
Only by understanding that there is but one power - and that this power is Mind, not circumstances or environment - is it possible to bring your real abilities to the surface ad put them to work. Few deny that intelligence governs the universe. In matters not whether you call this intelligence Universal Mindor Providence or God or merely nature. All admit Its directing power. All admit that It is a force for good, for progress. But few realize that our own minds are a part of this Universal Mind in just the same way that the rays of the sun are part of the sun.
If we work in harmony with It, we can draw upon Universal Mind for all power, all intelligence, in the same way that the sun's ray draw upon their source for the heat and light they bring the earth. It is not enough to know that you have this power. You must put it into practice - not once, or twice, but every hour and every day. Don't be discouraged if at first it doesn't always work. When you first studied arithmetic, your problems did not always work out correctly, did they? Yet you did not on that account doubt the principle of mathematics. You knew that the fault was in your methods, not it the principle. It is the same in this. The power is there. Correctly used, it can do anything." As stated above, the principles about the media and by the media are there, we've got to know them very well to apply them
Most of what we communicate has to do a lot with language and writing. What the mind thinks is transferred into verbal , written form, phonetic syllable and the auditory realms. It looks like the aims of expression and communication are so closely intertwined with each other in all forms of human behavior that normally it is impossible to speak about one without being forced at the same time to consider the other.
In order to communicate thoughts and feelings there must be a conventional system of signs or symbols which, when used by some persons, are understood by other persons receiving them. Communication under normal circumstances requires the presence of two or more persons, the one(s) who emit(s) and the one(s) who receive(s) the communication. Therefore, the process of communication is composed of two parts, emission and reception.
Our Minds can grasp these if we are to understand the large quote in the above cited paragraph. The purpose of this Hub is to show that the corporate media system, in conjunction with the broader trappings of a modern capitalist society, necessarily generate a depoliticized society, one where the vast majority of people logically put little time or interest into social or political affairs.(Carl Boggs)
In the process, the Social networking processes. through the use of the internet and other miniature emerging technological gadgets, debunks the myth and fiction that the Internet will "set us free," but the Hub shows that the Internet, despite its virtues, is largely being incorporated into the dominant commercial media and communication systems, creating a mass consuming and technological/technique-based mass media society and reality.
In the 1990s a new argument emerged which suggested that we had no reason to be concerned about concentrated corporate and hypercommercialization of media and the notion that the Internet, or broadly speaking, digital communication networks will,will set us free. Every major new electronic media technology this century, from film, AM radio, shortwave radio, and facsimile broadcasting to FM radio, terrestrial television broadcasting, cable, Dish and satellite TV and broadcasting, has spawned similar utopian notions.
The factor that distinguishes the Internet from previous new communication technologies is its all-encompassing nature. Computers are not just tools or even conduits, but create their own experiential listening environment that is increasingly naturalistic and pervasive in human life. Computer culture forces us to redefine what mediated communication means and we are barely coping as the computers steadily come over matter and mind.
The Internet As Communications on Steroids
As the technological society society's era expands, merges and converges ad infinitum, one wonders if whether we are witnessing the Mind over the Web or is it the Web all over the mind? One of the striking features of the Internet is that it is a public sector creation. At the same time, the internet has been developed by the private sector, with the guiding principle being that whoever makes the most money wins. With the shift of television to digital format, this has made it interchangeable with the Internet.
Those firms that are now dominating the digital television have been for some time poised to play a major role they are now playing in the age of the Internet. In a way, the Internet is being maintained through a profit driven context. It is important to look and know how the dominant firms in the relevant sectors - telecommunications, computer software, computer hardware, media-are addressing the media operate and manipulate these entities.
All are threatened by the Internet and they act defensively; and each also sees the Internet as a route to long-term growth. In conventional thinking, Convergence provides the basis for highly competitive markets, because firms can now invade formally irrelevant, and we have been witnessing a wave of unprecedented mergers and alliances of the largest media, telecommunication and computer firms in recent memory markets.
A brief history about the formations and origins of the Net would be in order at this juncture. It is important to note that the computer Net is an ever expanding new territory, and it is still growing faster than our ability to document or civilize it. Douglas Rushkoff offers an excellent and brief historical background on the founding and origins of the net in this excerpt below as follows:
"Intentionally developed as a decentralized web, the computer networks have already evolved into complex chaotic systems, capable of feedback and iteration on a scale still unfathomable by even their most enthusiastic participants. Computer networks are fractal in composition, with large networks of computers self-similarly reflecting smaller linked groups, which themselves reflect the inner workings of a single machine, which itself reflects the shape and structure of the software within it, the commands within the software, and the bytes of binary data within those commands.
As feedback devices, computers provide unprecedented expressive capabilities to anyone who can get access to a terminal and a modem. A tiny laptop in Montana can as high a leverage point as a system than any other. As an opportunity for iteration, the computer and its networks - which actually work by cycling information in nearly infinite loops - have begun to frighten those whose power is based on limiting the public's ability to disseminate and amplify its observations and intentions.
How this all came to be is significant. Tracking the development of the current Net reveals why it is so essentially chaotic; both the conscious plans of its constructors and what can be considered deeply "Natural causes" led to the formation of a new kind of wilderness - a network of 'roots' and 'vines' so vast that it has the potential to modify everything it contacts and utterly change the very landscape of the forest."
Rushkoff adds: "One way to trace the formation of the computer networks is to begin in 1964, when a cold war 'think tank' called the Rand Corporation was asked to come up with a way for the United States to maintain defense communication in the event of a nuclear war. The post-apocalyptic scenario they imagined was surprisingly similar to the postmodern world view of the slacker. Rand determined that the communications network must 'have no central authority and be designed from the beginning to operate while in tatters'.(Bruce Sterling)
Like a grassroots counterculture, the defense industry's ARPANET was created by the mid-seventies to allow different people in separate locations to communicate with each other and even operate defense systems after a devastating nuclear attack. The strategy involved making each computer, or "node," in the network of equal value in creating and transmitting data.
Rather than establishing a potentially vulnerable central command post from which orders trickled down to the remote locations, each of the thousand of locations in the system would automatically re-route through Dallas in order to reach Los Angeles, but the Dallas system were hit, the system would automatically re-route the message to other systems. Imagine a chain-linked fence. Even if you punch out a big hunk of fence, the rest is still interconnected enough to conduct electricity."
"Imitating a complex natural system like a coral reef, the ARPANET system depended on the immense interconnectedness of its parts. So it seems most hierarchically inclined, power-based segment of our culture - the military - developed the most Gaian-spirited complex ever created by human beings. This self-similar map of interconnected nodes is an automatically self-regulating organism.
No one individual can control what information spreads where. As one of the fathers of the system, John Gilmore said in an often quoted remark: "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." An attempt to block a communication at one node will simply prompt the network to find one of millions possible alternative routes. In a biosphere the more possible links and "phase locks" there are between members, the more opportunity nature has of regulating and neutralizing disturbances. Similarly, the dominant law on the computer net is a natural tendency toward self-determination through chaotic means."
Rushkoff explains further that: "By the time ARPANET was "ended" in 1989, no one seemed to notice that the organization did not exist anymore. It didn't matter: the powerful network it had initiated was her to stay. Many universities and commercial computer networks had already become nodes on the system, developed their own communications protocols, and had been sending each other electronic mail, conferencing, and archiving data. The network became known as the "Internet" - a meta-networking linking up other networks around the world. Scientist and other researchers used the network to share advances with each other, and corporations used it to send information from one site to another. Meanwhile computer hobbyists had launched their own, more grassroots-style set of networks. Two multibillion dollar industries - the computer manufacturers and telephone companies - had each developed its technologies separately. But as futurist Howard Rheingold suggests in his book Virtual Communities , the industries inadvertently gave private consumers access to those billions of dollars by selling them a tiny device to link the two technologies together: a computer modem. By hooking up her inexpensive personal computer through a modem to her family's $10-a-month telephone line, any kid can gain access to a global communications network, as well as every computer system linked to that network. The sum computing power of this tele-network of million of computers - and millions of computer users - is unimaginably greater than any single, affordable, constructible machine, or any organization of people."
Rushkoff finally clarifies: "The grassroots networks began as local, call-in nodes. One person would dedicate a computer and one or many phone lines to be a computer and one or many phone lines to be a bulletin board service, or BBS. Other users in his area could call into his BBS and leave messages for one another; post items of interest, or ask questions of the other users. The communications range from hackers sharing the latest stolen codes to people selling cars or discussing the story line of a Star Trek Movie.
Eventually these private BBSs created their own meta-network called FIDONET so that people on one bulletin board could send electronic mail to their friends on other boards without the expense of making a long-distance call to a bulletin in another state. Now that FIDONET itself was linked to the Internet and almost everyone had access to everything. Today there are millions of users in the United States and billions more worldwide. To establish a node on the Net, all a person or company needs to do is get a computer with a modem and join either a private bulletin board, university system, or research institution's node for a small fee or sometimes nothing at all.
Many users jack in through their computers at work, which are often linked to the Internet through the company's own node. Needless to say, the Internet is a social anarchy . There is no governing body for the system. Scientists share the network with hobbyists and hackers who share the system with writers, artists, researchers, corporations, and, of course, activists. The Internet is inherently threatening to anyone in a position of power because no one - at least, not yet - can regulate the tremendous flow of information.
The real observations of millions of people, shared through the networks, create and undeniable high-resolution portrait of our current state of affairs. The way to influence the public opinion has historically been to feed people information from the top. A hundred million or billion eyes fixed on Dan Rather or even CNN made directing pubic attention easy. A hundred million or billion people speaking to one another through computer text and getting their information from researchers,observers, archived material, and just plain other people are impossible to control. They have a reality test. They also have a countercultural weapon. Rushkoff gave us the basic historical background of the coming of, evolving and spreading of the Internet. We will now look at the Internet today.
The New Digital Phase
When the twentieth century electronic media of radio, television, and recording tape adjusted these assumptions, and the changes at least still resembled ordinary presence. In other words, many messages became more accessible over distance or over time, but they retained certain cues of the voice, the human image, or both, that are normally associated with immediacy. Another way of saying this is that as media become more and more "immediate" and sophisticated they are experienced less and less like media. They seem almost to waft, to fade in and away, in a floating environment not experienced as machinelike, but as naturally involving.
At the same time, most analysts implicitly assumed writing and reading were more or less non-immediate experiences, involving distant encoding. Reading and writing allow students to learn and even emulate literary or historical works on which the culture presumably depends. Therefore, these tasks were subject to more careful planning, they seemed to depend on "higher" mental functions, and also seemed more important to teach and learn. The were obvious differences of presence too.
Writing therefore was considered a solitary act of creation and, except in an imaginative sense, as social as reading. In fact, a central myth of literature has always been inspired,by a tortured, or bemused author who sat alone creating new worlds on pages that, after they were transported, became potent enough to move isolated readers to joy, to tears, or to action.
Written and spoken modes offered their own advantages,of course. Speech, especially in face-to-face situations, provides more holistic clues to meaning, including a speaker's appearance, vocal tone, linear rationality. Newspapers have placed themselves at the nexus of vast networks of content, and have been able to single out complicated stories and nuances that broadcasters can only hint at.
Still, in the midst of all this change, 'what never seemed to change' was that the point of origin, in effect, of news and entertainment - of information - and it was always 'out there'. Someone elsewhere had to decide that I needed to know what they wanted to say or write. Audiences, in a sense, were at the beck and call of message producers. In the process, they became consumers in the functional sense, in the service of communication entrepreneurs. However, "What never seemed to change " has changed.
Whereas message receivers have been waiting on senders throughout the century, the basic vocabulary of communication's conventional wisdomhas been called into question by the new deferred digital presence of on-line networks. Floating messages function in way similar to how human speech is accessible to any listener within earshot. Whereas directed messages presuppose the sender's (pre-decided) purpose s, floating messages presuppose the listener's (potential) purposes. Reading in such an environment, it seems, takes on central characteristics of listening, with interesting consequences for presence and immediacy.
The Foundation Has Changed
The media industry has changed. The emergence of digital technologies has made it possible that more people are reached by the media and frequently than ever before. The new digital media technologies have had a dramatic impact on the traditional media Industry. This has left them wondering why is it with many people engaging with media these companies are struggling to make returns from. The foundation is not the road the printed publication travelled, or the sheet of paper that the content is printed, neither is the airwaves, neither is it the airwaves that carries a broadcast signal, it is not the content creator or even the brand - it is the mechanism that actually delivers the content to the eyes and ears .
Digital technologies have changed the landscape, although the principle of the foundation has not changed, the players have. The foundation today is linked to organizations such as 'Google', 'Facebook', 'Youtube', 'Bebo', 'Skype' and 'Twitter' - they are now the mechanism that delivers content to the eyes and ears. These players have been brought about by our very increasing appetite to consume and share news and information. The change has been rapid as digital technologies remove the barriers associated to the traditional media.
The format, location, distance and time are no longer considerations, the transfer of content and information can be instantaneous and to anywhere in the world. The issue with the foundation is it has never been hugely lucrative. Think of the newspapers girl or boy, they get just a few pennies for each paper delivered, the newspaper delivery firm even less per delivered unit. In the traditional world there was money associated with delivery. For the new foundation this has largely changed, and there is no money associated to distribution. If you take the list of the new players Google is in the anomaly in that it is the only one that has and is making real money. The others al have fabulous values attached to the organizations but have failed to show any real way to make a return(Indigo)
The way media is delivered, the way we consume media has changed. It was not that long ago the majority of content was created by professionals and published professionals, content was exclusive. Content is no longer exclusivey the domain of the professionals. Barriers have been removed. Professionals still create and publish, but so do the rest of us. The quality has dropped, the form has simply changed Content created and pushed our eyes and ears. A newspaper, magazine, television program, website, everything used to be pushed and we consumed.
Content is no longer pushed, today it is increasingly pulled. Digital technologies have changed the rules. We consume increasing volume of content in flashes; Words come in 140 characters, broadcasts in one and half minute. Content used to be based on structure and format. Words came in paragraphs, broadcasts came in programs. Today snippets are the norm. Snippets are summaries; a headline, subject, content,tone, language, need or even creator. Snippets grab attention what is going on, something that has happened, a headline, a piece of information.
They create interest and desire to pull more linked to headline; Snippets grab attention, or do not. Interest generated in a nano second, and we both engage and pull more or we walk away. Choose to walk we are informed, stay consume and we become more informed. Our ability, or desire, to consume rafts of content is diminishing. Summaries are often enough; succinct, message stark. Here there are riches to made, and a snippet is more than a headline - controlling the snippet is the new way of marketing and commercializing content.
The created has changed. Consumers create content and comment on existing content. Sometimes this content or comment links or refers to content created by professionals or published by professionals, but often not. Consumers dominate in the content stakes, they are the lead in create and share. The balance of power has shifted. The creator has changed The desire and appetite for knowledge and information is not waning, content consumption is exponentially growing. Digital technologies are seeing to that. The challenge for professionals is to understand how to take advantage; how to create, package, promote their content. Publishers need to control snippets to drive revenue (Indigo)
Changing Content and Context
We are living an unnatural and unsustainable life in the BraveNewOrldOrder. We now live in a carefully constructed, artificial reality shaped by endless repetitions of memes, disinformation and propaganda inculcated through mass media indoctrination and bureaucratic institutional brainwashing. The subversion of our natural state of equilibrium is so complete, so encompassing, so pervasive ... that once you grasp the enormity of just ow many areas in your life have been affected, effected, conditioned, molded and steered, you can ONLY conclude that it has been done on purpose ... with deliberate intent.
The social engineers that have shaped our society and our culture have a full, working knowledge of our human natures, our desires, our biological imperatives, and our instinctive proclivities ... and they have deliberately and deviously gone about subverting, distorting and controlling our need, wants and desires to create a script for which we unknowingly and unwittingly follow ... immersing ourselves into lives of artificial constructs that deliberately go against our natural state of equilibrium. If one feels like one is going crazy in a world gone mad, that is precisely ones cognitive dissonance of ones natural instincts clashing with the unnatural script you are trying to follow to achieve "success" and "happiness." T
his purposely instilled discombobulation was designed to leave you confused, tired, overworked, and in ill-health, unable to contemplate their these devious machinations that seek to subtly and covertly controlled. Put simply: to render you easily manipulated, our BraveNewWorldOrder's social engineers have deliberately scrambled our understanding our familial roles, dietary nutrition and health, understanding of finance and economics, and a proper understanding of education.
They have created a society for which cultural inertia pushes us into dysfunctional familial relationships mediated by an Interloping State authority. They've created a society for which we ignore these manifestations of population control by focusing on a mass media constructed fantasy to keep us all distracted and mind-numbingly complacent and ignorant. They have created a society for which cultural inertial pushes us into bad dietary lifestyles, unhealthy addictions and a healthcare that profits from our misery and sickness(see Photo in the picture gallery)
In other words, they treat us like the sheeple that we are. We've been herded, branded, fattened, sheered and eventually led to the slaughter...(Hawaiian Libertarian) Technology, Technique and emerging technological gadgets and Media have changed and altered our reality and understanding of our world today.
Social Media and Social Media Sites
Marianina Manning wrote the following excerpt about Social Media: "Consumer Generated Media (GCM) is the term that encompasses all social media content on the Internet authored by consumers. This content ranges from blogs, to social networks, consumer review sites, message boards and videos. Social networking and connecting with customers is all the buzz for example recently, Forrester Research did a webcast on Know your Customers' Social Technographics and Craft the Tight Social Marketing Strategy with Charlene Li from Forrester."
She shared her insights on understanding ones target audience attitudes and behaviors towards social technologies(techniques )? These are great calls for marketers to learn more about getting their arms around social media, listening to the voice of the customer and engagement with consumers in social media. Some other stats, from Pew Internet and Jupiter research are offered Jeremiah, a fellow Web Analytics Association Social Media Committee Member, who is a Social Media strategist, below, gives outlines of how to approach positioning one's company in the wider Social Media Ecosystem. From Web Analytics perspective, how does one even begin to gauge the influence of these conversations on one's brand?(See Ladder-like Social Media Technographics Report in the Photo Gallery). Here are some stats worth comntemplating:
- One Blog is created every minute
- 27% (32M) read Blogs
- 22% (27M) post reviews/Comments
- 44% (53M) are Content Creators(running own Blogs,/sites, posting messages)
There are more than 1.5 billion comments per day, the collective voice of the consumer to influence brands and buying strategy has never been stronger and will continue to be strong. There have recently appeared in the market, applicators, such as visible Technologies TruCast, that 'can enable companies to monitor social media conversations' , gain valuable insights to manage their brands online on social media sites. For companies, these online conversations represent a new opportunity and challenge for brand monitoring, reputation management, word-of-mouth marketing and consumer engagement. This is pretty powerful stuff, the ability to segment one's potential customers by feeling and tone and message from the enormous pool of social media sites. I wonder how scalable this tool or any tool is, because eventually with the increased blogosphere appearing to be exponential ,how much data will their database with multi-tiered querying there is going to be, seems like there would be some pretty powerful information available on the Web Datasphere. Here is how this Data has be reset and presented:
Influence engagement Metrics and Advanced Analytics:
- Identifies the most influential consumers for a particular topic or issue
- Determines the sub-topics of conversations
- Interactive dashboard allows clients to determine specific sites and authors
- Wilding the most influence in conversations
What are they talking about (sentiment) scores:
For example, their intelligent sentiment technology evaluates the positive and negative sentiment and tone of conversation. Users establish sentiment criteria by scoring a sample of data, and TruCast automatically scores the rest. I'd like to put this the test. There are others such as Pythia which give trended social media for free, so even for SMEs there are tools which can help. I personally think the idea of engagement metrics within the context of the broader Social Media Ecosystem and putting it to use to be able to positively impact on managing one's company brand or one's life interests, and social media reputation management, it is something that we will all be doing in the not too distant future or is already here.
More Than Half the Population Use Social Networking Sites
Brad Reed wrote this piece in the Computerworld site: "More than half of all adult Internet Users in the United State either visit or maintain a profile on at least one social networking site, according to a study conducted by the Forrester Research. In its latest survey on social technologies, Forrester found that 51% of online U.S. adults utilize social Networking sites such as Facebook or Linkdin, a large increase from the 25% of users who reported using social networking."
'What makes social networking on the Internet so popular is the power it gives individuals to create, maintain and expand any number of networks to include family, close friends and people who share a similar interest, profession or hobby. The growing popularity of Facebook, for example, has encouraged corporate marketing teams to explore the opportunities to be had by having a corporate file. Using their employees contacts for sales and marketing, effectively creating a snowball effect as the corporate message is passed from one network to another. These sites give them a direct route to targeted groups of individuals with similar interests and, most important, it is free social engineering.'(David Kelleher)
Forrester conducted its survey online in May by questioning more than 4,7000 Web users between the ages of 18 and 88. The firm used data collected from the survey to classify Internet Users into six different type: "creators" who create and publish their own content such as Blogs, Videos or Music; "critics" who post reviews or comment on others' online forums or blogs; "collectors" who use RSS feeds; "joiners" who visit or maintain profiles on social networking sites; "spectators" who utilize podcasts, videos or Blogs, but who don't interact with others; and "inactives" who do none of the above.
Forrester says that the growth of users who consume social media such as Podcasts,Videos and Blogs has grown almost dramatically as social networking Web site users. "The survey classified a full 73% of online U.S. adults as spectators, a big increase from the 48% that it classified as such in 2007. Additionally, the number of users who consume no social media has fallen from 44% in 2007 to 18% this year."
Looking at age demographics, Forrester expects these trends to intensify in the coming years. "We now see that participation among those under 35 is nearly universal," writes Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff at the Forrester Interactive Marketing Blog. "Soon, if you're online, you'll almost certainly be consuming social technology applications now, you're officially behind."
The one group of social networking users that has not grown rapidly over the past three years, however, has been the creators who post their own content online. According to the survey, just 24% of American Web users are classified as creators, up fro 18% in 2007. Forrester analyst Sean Corcoran, who authored the report on the survey, says that creators have a certain temperament that many Internet users don't share, thus limiting their potential expansion. "It really comes down to whether you want to be a publisher or not," he explains. "it's going to be a smaller group than most of the rest.(Brad Reed)
Mass Media is Giving Way to Personal and Participatory Media
Mass Audience and Mass Media
The best technology in existence since around 1448 was a technology called "movable type" invented for commercial use by Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith from Mainz (although the Chinese had thought of it first). The idea was to cast individual letters (type) and then compose (move) these to make up printable pages. This promised to disrupt the mainstream media of the day, the work of Monks who were manually transcribing texts or carving entire pages into woodblocks fro printing. By 1455 Mr. Gutenberg, having received some sponsorship from a rich compatriot, Johannes Fust, was churning out bibles and soon also Papal indulgences.
In 2001, five and half centuries after Johan Gutenberg first bible, "Movable Type" was invented again. Ben and Mena Trott, high-school sweetheart who became husband and wife, had been laid off during the dotcom bust and found themselves in San francisco with ample spare time. Ms Trott began blogging - i.e., posting to her online journal, Dollarshort - about "stupid anecdotes from my childhood".
For reasons that elude her, Dollashort became very popular, and the Trotts decided to build a better "blogging tool," which they called "Movable Type". Likening it to the printing press seemed like a natural thing because it was clearly revolutionary; it was not meant to be "arrogant or grandiose," says Ms Trott and nodding to her husband, who was extremely shy and rarely talked. Movable Type is now the software of choice for celebrity Bloggers. These two incarnations of movable type make convenient (and very approximate) historical book-ends.
They bracket the era of mass media that is familiar to everybody today. The second Movable Type, however, also marks the beginning of a very gradual transition to a new era, which might be called the age of "Personal or Participatory Media". This culture is already familiar to teenagers and twenty-somethings, especially in rich countries. Most older people, if they are aware of the transition at all, find it puzzling. Calling it the "Internet Era" is not helpful. By way of infrastructure,full scale participatory media presume not so much the availability of the (decades-old) internet as of widespread, "Always-on", broadband access to it.
So far, this exists only in south Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, whereas in America and other large media markets are several years behind. Even today's broadband infrastructure was built for the previous era, not the coming one. Almost everywhere, download speeds (from the internet to the user) are many times faster than upload speeds (from user to network). This is because the corporate giants that built these pipes assumed that the internet would simply be another distribution pipe for themselves or their partners in the Media Industry.(The Economist)
Exactly this, however, is starting to happen. Last November, the Pew Internet & american Life project found that 57% of American teenagers create content for the Internet - from text to pictures, music to video. In this new-media culture, says Paul Saffo, a director at the Institute for the Future in California, 'people no longer passively "consume" media (and thus advertising, its main revenue source) but actively participate in them, which usually means creating content, in whatever form and on whatever scale'.
This does no have to mean that "people write their own newspaper", says Jeremy Zawodny, a prominent Blogger and software engineer at Yahoo! and Internet portal. "It could be as simple as rating the restaurants they went to or the movie they saw," or as sophisticated as shooting a home video." This has profound implications for traditional business models in the media industry, which are based o aggregating large passive audiences and holding them captive during advertising interruptions. In the new-media era, audiences will occasionally be large, but often small, and usually tiny. Instead of a few large capital-rich media giants competing with one another or the audiences, it will be small firms and individuals competing, or more often, collaborating with one another.
With participatory media, the boundaries between audiences and creators become blurred and often invisible. In the words of David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, a search engine for blogs, "one-to-many lectures (i.e., from media companies to their audiences) are transformed into ('conversations') among "the people formerly known as the audience". This changes the tone of public discussions.
The mainstream media don't get how subversive it is to take institutions and turn them into 'conversations'. That is because institutions are closed, assume a hierarchy and have trouble admitting fallibility, whereas 'conversations' are open-ended, assume equality and eagerly concede fallibility. Today's media revolution, like others before it, has announced itself with a new and strange vocabulary. In the early twentieth century, Charles Prestwich Scott, the editor publisher and owner of the Manchester Guardian (and thus part of his era's mainstream media), was aghast at the word "television", which to him was "half Greek, half Latin: no good can come out of it." Mr. Scott's equivalents today confront even stranger neologisms. Merriam Webster, a publisher of dictionaries, had "Blog" as its word of the year in 2004, and the New Oxford American Dictionary picked "Podcast" in 2005. "Wikis", "Vlogs". "Metaverses" and "Folksonomies", all to be explained late in the survey, may be next.
Barry Diller, who fits the description of "Media Mogul" says that, "These words! The inability of the English language to express these new things is distressing." Mr, Diller has run two big Hollywood film studios and launched America's fourth broadcast television network, Fox Broadcasting. Mr. Diller concedes that all of the distribution methods get thrown up in the air. And how they land is, well, still up in the air.
He has made a valiant effort to get his mind around the Internet, with mixed results, and is now the boss of IAC/InterActiveCorp, a conglomerate with about 60 online brands. Yet Mr. Diller is confident that 'participation' can never be a proper basis for the media industry. "Self publishing by someone of average talent is not very interesting," he says. "Talent is the new limited resource."
Jerry Michalski who advise companies on the uses of new Media tools, shot back: "What an ignoramus!" Look around and there's tons of great stuff from rank amateurs, and Diller is assuming that there's a finite amount of talent and that he can corner it. He's completely wrong. Nothing in the "Blogosphere" is poetry, not every audio "podcast" is a symphony, not every video "Vlog" would do well at Sundance, and not every entry on Wikipedia, the free and collaborative online Encyclopedia, is 100% correct.
But exactly that can be said of about newspapers, radio, television and the Encyclopedia Britannica. What is new is that young people today, and most people in future, will be happy to decide for themselves what is credible or worthwhile and what is not. They will have plenty of help. Sometimes they will rely on human editors of they're choosing; at other time they will rely on collective intelligence in the from of new filtering and collaboration technologies that are now being developed. "The old media model was: there is one source of truth. The new media model is: there are multiple sources of truth, and we will sort it out," Says Joe Kraus, the founder of JotSpot, which makes software for Wikis.
The obvious benefit of this media revolution will be what Mr. Saffo of the Institute for the Future calls a "cambrian explosion of creativity: a flowering of expressive diversity on a large scale for the eponymous proliferation of biological species 530 million years ago. "We are entering an age of cultural richness and abundant choice that we've never seen before in history. Peer production is the most powerful industrial force of our time," says Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine and author of a forthcoming book called "The Long Tail". Indeed, many people are in the traditional media are pessimistic about the rise of a "Participatory Culture," either because they believe it threatens the business model that they have grown used to, or because they feel it threatens public discourse, civility and democracy. (The Economist)
A Look at the Creation of Mass Population Control
Upon seizing power as German Chancellor in 1933, Adolph Hitler established a Rich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda headed by Joseph Goebbels. The Ministry's aim was to ensure that the Nazi message was successfully communicated through art, music, theater,films, books, radio, educational materials,and the press. Hitler's appointment of Goebbels, a demonically talented demagog who was slavishly devoted to the Fuhrer and his personal beliefs about the connections between political power and mass population control. Hitler expressed these in his personal political testament Mein Kampf: "Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people ... it works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea."
In his apprenticeship under Hitler, Goebbels brought the science of Mass Population Control to new heights with a totally comprehensive program of propaganda that permeated every layer of German society. In the 12 years the Nazis were in power, the German people's entire "diet" of information consisted of an unending stream of heavily censored and "engineered" radio broadcasts, public speeches, films, and even children's school books that enforced the Nazi singular political and racial ideology.
Such a relentless and coordinated assault o the mind of an average person had an immensely powerful effect in shaping the thoughts, beliefs and opinions of the majority of the German people. And some people in the public relations spheres were strongly influenced by the Goebbels and Nazi's rise to power through the use of propaganda in controlling mass media and the mass of peoples.
Mass Media Redux (In Sum)
In the following excerpt, Alan Moore rolls out the history of mass media and their characteristics, their evolution and how they replaced and worked with one another.
Print was First of the Mass Media
Prior to Johan Gutenberg and his printing of the Bible, information was vigorously controlled by the church over a society described as a feudal society for the benefit of the church. This was the first mass media and it was a significant contributor to the demise of the feudal system and the hegemony of the church over large swathes of the Northern European populations.
As printing spread and publishing developed, technological innovation created new marker structures. Soon publishers became the controlling institutions, wishing to exercise control and hence domination of that market space. The oldest of today's media giants such as TimeWarner and Rupert Murdoch, etc., trace their roots to the newspaper and print industries. Printing and publishing created a whole new raft of job descriptions the author/writer was the creative talent, with other professional writers including journalists columnists, screenplay writer, etc.
For the newspapers and magazines, the job of editor was invented to mange the written content. Illustrators appeared for books and periodicals, and after the advent of the photograph in the 1850s, photojournalists and photographer illustrators also, were added into the creative skills of print and publishing. Advertising was born through the newspapers and magazines. Advertising revenues also hanged the business model of newspapers, and became the model thereafter on how every mass media made a sizable portion of its money.
But importantly, because of the possibility of reuse, pubic libraries were born, where industrial man and woman could better expand their knowledge were they so inclined. With newspapers and magazines, from a commercial context, the role of information changed. Content became the necessary glue, for the reality important stuff - commercial messaging to a targeted audience. Today many free newspapers exist funded by advertising. Needles to say,like all industrial economies, barriers to entry for print publishers were high.
The capital cost of setting up a publishing business were not insignificant and as publishers realized they could reach greater audiences with wider distribution, those capital costs increased. However, the considerable benefits were that whoever had the wilder distribution controlled the story, the news and the information. Until very recently,it was a few media proprietors, from around the world that were the arbiters of what we could or should know. A new media has introduced new industry, new professions, and new business models. Advertising has been enabled to support, even carry a media channel.
Recording was the 2nd of the Mass Media
Musical recordings from the 1800s introduced the first "new" mass media. What were first only music recordings on "clay" records eventually evolved to the vinyl recordings of the later half of the last century? The music industry added new recording methods from open reel audio tape in the 1960s to the C-cassette and music cartridges in the 1970s, the music CD in the 1980s and digital music stored as MP3 files from the late 1990s and the ringing tones now in the current decade.
The music recordings alone is worth billions of Dollars worldwide today. Music was not the only recorded content. In the 1970s movies appeared on video cassettes and a second major content category for the recording industry was created. Movies started off as a rental business but then added video cassette sales and then the DVD sales and rentals. The movies sold and recorded on DVs today are worth about 20 Billion Dollar or nearly as much as Hollywood earns on the Box Office "cinema" income of first-run movies.
Today, several other recordings categories exist including computer programs, video games, TV shows, etc. recordings as a new mass media channel was radically different from print, in that while anyone could read a book, magazine, or newspaper, for consuming a record or tape, CD, DVD, you needed to own a media player. this forced households to go buy the new home entertainment gadget, the record-player. And then later the cassette player, the CD player, the DVD play.
Early recording were music concerts, longer symphonic orchestra music, which was what you would go to listen to if you went to the theater to listen to a concert. The recording industry then innovated and created shorter forms of music, inventing the pop song of about 3 minutes in length. This was not viable on the stage, 'we don't go listen to the London Symphony Orchestra play 3 minutes'. Musicians, because of the reach their music had, were able to branch into other media, most notably radio and the movies. It meant for the first time you did not have to be wealthy, to go to the opera, own your own instruments to be able to enjoy music. It was also like publishing a controlled economy and distribution system.
Analogue recordings created a new industry, the music business, and slowly cannibalized music from print. Analogue recordings as a mass media and distribution model created a new spectrum of jobs; from studio and live recordings, to music management and touring bands - created for modern era by the Beatles and Jazz music and R&B(Motown), etc. A new mass media can cannibalize from the old, but also add new opportunities. A new media can create formats which were not viable before it. In addition, to creative and technical talent there can be performing talent in the media. Even with an expensive media player to be purchased by users, a media can flourish.
Cinema is 3rd of the Mass Media
In the 1910s cinema became the third evolution of the Mass Media. This introduced yet another very distinct form of enjoying mass media. Cinema thus became an audience media, mostly enjoyed in the movie theater with hundreds of other members of the public. Interestingly it was a communal experience, and still is. Technically, we now had a first truly visual media, with moving pictures. Movies told stories of the Wild West, brought us to the madness of war via Vietnam and Apocalypse Now , scared us to death via Jaws , and took us to new galaxies via Star Wars .
Very popular cinema content format were invented in the first half of the las century for the cinema. These included "newsreels" shot about 5-10 minute new summaries in moving pictures - the precursor to today's TV news. Also, weekly "serials" were introduced, where the same hero would battle a series of villains one week, be left in a perilous situation to be continued next week. The cliff-hanger style of serial short movies which brought cinema audiences back every week for a further installments. Interestingly this format continues on TV soap operas and continuing story line TV series such as "The Shield," "The Sopranos," "Desperate Housewives," "Big Brother," "Pop Idol," "Star Trek Enterprise," , etc. Cinema was thought of threatening books as a viable media.
The exact opposite happened. Good books spawned movies, and successful movies that were not based on books, were turned into printed books. Hollywood ruthlessly cannibalized the topmost talent and content from print and recordings and attempted to turn them into movie stars. Some succeeded like Ian Fleming's James Bond series of books or Elvis Presley's transition onto movies. Madonna and Prince are examples where cinema tried but failed in transferring a recording artist to the silver screen Comic books were turned into movies such as Superman, Batman, Spider Man, Darkman, The Hulk, etc., which in turn sold more comic books, but other titles such as Darkman have failed.
While recording was a decade older as a mass media, cinema was able to overtake recordings in its importance due to its distribution model. A soon as cinema theaters started to make money, they sprung up everywhere and by the end of the 1930s there were dozens, even hundreds of cinemas theaters in major cities around the world. Recordings were still suffering from the high cost of individual players which did not reach most of the population until the 1960s.
Like recordings, cinema also introduced new skills and new artists. The Hollywood star was born, with Charlie Chaplin the most recognized person on the planet in the 1930s. Even long after its peak influence in the 1950s, cinema still today holds a premier position among all media stars, as the ultimate indication of true celebrity. The most paid artists worldwide tend to be Box Office Hollywood stars, and most music artists, stage actors, TV celebrities, professional dancers, comedians, etc., hope to land a major movie role to boost their careers. Moving pictures are more compelling than written words of just sounds.
People are willing to pay per view and to be constantly held in a state of disbelief. And it is a media that does not require the audience to go buy new equipment has the ability to bypass older media in adoption speed.
Radio is the 4th of the Mass Media
The 1920s brought us Radio and the 4th of the Mass Media. Radio was the first ubiquitous broadcast media, the first "streaming" media. This was the first time a media required the audience to make an appointment to join and listen. With books and newspapers, we could read at any time we wanted. With recordings we could replay the recording whenever we felt like it. With cinema we could select which night we could go and see the movie, as long as it was still playing. But with radio our show came once and was gone. If we were not there to hear it, we missed it.
This meant the birth of broadcast schedule and appointment in the instance to listen. And introduced the need for new printed magazines and newspaper pages telling us what was on radio, on which channel, and at what time. Radio brought a new diversity of news, information, debate and music to the people. And, it brought a new channel for commercial communications. Radio was the engine that started to drive mass consumption, content became the glue for commercial communications. And that is an interesting and important point to consider.
Radio brought us the Soap Opera as continuing story line radio plays that were sponsored by the Consumer detergents and soaps giant Proctor & Gamble and featuring their main brands such as Palmolive, Colgate and Pepsodent. Radio did something that never was possible, the rapid dissemination of breaking news an information, experienced live as it happened. It complimented the long-from more in-depth analysis of the newspaper and specialist magazine. Radio was funded either on an advertising model or by national license fees, or in some cases a mixture of the two. However, a strange symbiotic relationship developed, with music recordings and the Top 20 chart radio play format. Suddenly the music recording industry noticed that those songs that the radio DJ's played would become economically chart hits.
Like each new media, new talent was needed and radio's new talent were the DJ's and announcers, newsreaders and other radio voices. New radio plays emerged and comedy hours and familiar radio voices became celebrities. Broadcast is tied to a schedule, even a cannibalistic new media typically will not kill off an older media, rather adjust it. Even if two mass media use similar content, the newer one will still spawn new professions and a new industry. It's possible for two media to form a symbiotic relationship.
TV was the 5th Mass Media
The 1950s brought us the mass introduction of television. TV combined the broadcast concept of radio and its business model with the visual and multimedia impact of cinema. Like radio and recordings, TV required the audience to purchase a consumption device, except in the 1950s and 1960s even the cheapest TV sets were easily ten times more expensive than record players or radios. But this enormous price barrier was no obstacle to TV. Television's economic and cultural impact was simply seismic: it was the first time mass media to physically and metaphorically replace the fireplace as the heart of the home.
TV took a great deal from its older broadcast siblings, radio and cinema obviously, but also print. The economic model of radio was copied - including the business models of either TV license or advertising, or in some countries, both. Only much later with cable TV did subscription models appear and today even pay-per-view models are being introduced for TV. More than just a media, TV soon dominated all other media economies. By the 1970s TV attracted the largest audiences and become the engine room for driving mass consumption via TV advertising. For example,
Morecombe and Wise , a British comedic duo got the highest recorded TV audience in Britain, with 26 million viewers, almost half of the UK population watching their Christmas special. The Superbowl in the United States is the annually most watched TV show gathering about 80-90 million viewers to the show. TV also changed previous media concepts. A good example is music. After TV innovated the music video(MTV), suddenly TV became the determining factor in a recording artist's chances of climbing the music charts. Radio, once the sole arbiter of the audiences taste in music was superseded. TV introduced again new skills.
Both technical from TV studio, video, audio, editing, lighting, etc., staffs to the on-air-personalities from news anchors, game show presenters, talk show hosts, etc. More recently VJs(Video Jockeys on MTV and musical channels), and even Reality TV contestants in shows like the "American Idol" and "Big Brother," have become celebrities that TV audience aspire to become. From able to satellite and now digital TV, various multi-channel TV systems has given the TV audiences ever more choice.
It has also caused severe fragmentation of the advertising audience. P&G Chief Marketing Officer, Jim Stengel says that in 1965, 80% of adults in the US could be reached with three-second spots. However in 2002, it required 117 advertisement to achieve the same result. Even a very expensive media player is not an obstacle to adoption if the format is right. A media can gain a dominant position without a unique technical benefit. A new media rival with an absolute advantage - such as TV over radio - still did not kill off the previous mass media.
The Internet is the 6th of the Mass Media - The First Interactive Media
The 1990s brought us the 6th Mass Media, the anarchic Internet. But, of all instances of a new media appearing onto the scene, the Internet was the first time that a new media could do everything that the earlier five Mass Media could do. Furthermore, the Internet added to unique benefits never possible on the previous five: Interactivity and Search. What the Internet has achieved single-handedly is to demonstrate that humans are a "We" species, a social and networking species. We have an innate need to connect and communicate.
The networked and Interactive nature of the Internet suddenly enabled us humans to get back to what our DNA demands us to be via: the Blogs, Wikis, Citizen Journalism, Peer Production, Collective Intelligence, and del.icio.us. Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games such as "World of Craft," social networking like "My Space" and Cyworld. Or even "Habbo Hotel," a virtual children's playground which releases new variants every six weeks based n the feedback of its 8 million users worldwide. This enables a community-improved system with improvement cycles unheard-of in legacy media, capitalizing on the "wisdom of the crowds". Alan Moore likes to state that, "Nobody is as clever as everybody."
He continues: "This radically changes the relationship between media content creation and media content consumption. Industrialization and the Mass Media have conveniently forgotten that we are a "We" species and really don't like being reminded of the fact that we want to be part of creation, of networks and communities. And that it is fundamental need of every society on this planet, no matter whether we live in the forest or in the cities.
The sixth Mass Media demonstrates an audience can, and indeed demands the possibility for direct participation in media creation and consumption. We can think of the first five mass media as "cold" mass media,consumed passively. By contrast the Internet was the first "hot" mass media, which is allowing users to create, rate, participate in and propagate media content. Business Week explained of the relevance of Social Networking on its June 26, 2006, cover story: "This is the biggest change to business ... since the Industrial Revolution".
Today, readership of newspapers is pointing to terra firma, traditional TV viewing is in terminal decline, whilst Internet use continues to look to the blue sky of growth. Print, Radio and TV are also becoming media channels for increasingly older people. The ITU Digital Life Report for 2006 reveals that over 55 years olds spend 31.5 hours per week with traditional news media (print, radio and TV) and only 8 hours with modern digital mass media (mostly the Internet). Meanwhile young people, i.e., under 35 year olds, by contrast spend 25 hours with all the three major forms of legacy media and already 16 hours per week with interactive media.
Young people spend 50% more time on the Internet as on TV, twice as much as on the Internet as on radio, and four times as much time on the web as in print media. "I search therefore I am," is the mantra of today's digital 'natives'. Search changes everything. A good example of how search is altering legacy media is with recorded music. Pitchforkmedia.com has emerged as one of the more important indie "must read." Music sites in any medium, with 125 unique visitors a day and only three full time employees. Bands that have struggled for years once picked up by Pitchforkmedia.com have often witnessed a rapid increase in sales and their music.
Google's sponsored search words concept has radically altered advertising revenues on the web, and in 2006 more revenues were earned by search advertising than all other forms of advertising on the Internet. Like each of the previous mass media, the Internet has brought about new professions requiring new skills. Some of these are technical, like web designers,others are on the creative side such as blogger. Already today there are more Bloggers than all professional journalist in TV, Radio, Newspapers and Magazines combined.
But also, most Bloggers are not paid for their work, the number of professional and semi-professional Bloggers are measured in the low tens of thousands out of the 72 million Blogsites today. If a mass media is an inherent threat media, threatening to cannibalize all legacy media, it also will rapidly alter each of the legacy media. Interactivity creates digital community and moves media from push to pull. A "hot" media is inherently preferred over any cold media and will cannibalize older media at unprecedented speeds.
For all the huge changes enabled by the Internet so far, the changes ahead caused by the Internet are going to be greater than all changes we have seen up to now. The mobile phone, for example, will not kill off the Internet. Just like cinema and TV did not kill off books, radio did not kill off recordings and the Internet has not killed off newspapers, magazines, video games, etc., so too, mobile is the newest mass media, it is very different mass media, but it will not be the hangman of the internet.
For all of the major Internet services, companies and media formats, their bright future is still ahead for them. Only that while the Internet has started its path towards the second billion users, the youngest media, Mobile,is already nearing its third billion users. Mobile, the 7th Mass Media is to Internet like TV is to radio.
Mobile, the 7th Mass Media is to Internet like TV is to Radio
Emerging Mobile Mass Media and its Changing Phases
Alan Moore has written extensively about "Mobile Phones as Mass media. This serves to update the concept of Mass Media today to get a better grasp of what is happening in present and upcoming Technological Revolution. Alan Moore informs us: "An evolving historic technological revolution is under way, which is creating new industries, new products, new services and, unmercifully redefining or even destroying others. Its more powerful, with greater reach and is growing faster than any other Media-Ecology. It is not as clear and coherent, with established well-known global brands, as the older Internet is today, with its Google's, Yahoo's, YouTube's and Second Life's . But the foundations are now being laid for the future corporate giants for the 7th mass media to emerge.
Differing from the Internet, mobile as the 7th mass media channel is similar to the five legacy mass media, economically viable with a stable business model fro day one. Yet, differing from the legacy mass media, all of which are witnessing a decline in their audiences and revenues, mobile, and like the Internet, is an interactive media enabling it to fully capitalize on Social Networking and digital communities. But more importantly, from a media audience point-of-view, there already are over twice as many Mobiles as TV sets. The only mass media that is carried upon the owner at all times, mobile is also the first mass media where nearly 100% accuracy is feasible on measuring the audience.(Alan Moore)
Mobile as the 7th mass media is as much superior to the Internet, as TV is to radio. Today at 2.7 billion mobile users, there are three times as many mobile phones as personal computers (and over a quarter of all Internet Access is already from mobile phones). There are nearly as twice as many mobile phones as TV sets. Twice as many people use messaging on a phone (SMS text messaging) as use e-mail on the web. but mobile was first a communication device. It emerged as the 7th media only by the year 2000.
By far the youngest of the seven mass media, the mobile is also by far the least understood. The mobile is the first mass media that can do everything each of the six previous mass media can do. We can read content like newspapers(print, the first mass media), download music recordings (second mass media), watch movies (third mass media), listen to radio (fourth mass media), watch TV (fifth mass media).
The phone can also copy all of the legacy PC-based Internet (sixth mass media) of today. All of the existing media can be delivered via the mobile. Therefore, the mobile is an inherent threat to mass media, capable of cannibalizing any of its predecessors. And it includes the new innovations of the Internet,Interactivity and Search, what was new on the web and not available on the five old media - both interactivity and search are fully existing on mobile today.
The web is semi-personal, but not really personal. Our phones, on the other hand, are truly personal. If we use the Nielsen rating on TV, on the mobile we know every single user. The mobile is the first always on new mass media; it is the youngest and least understood and also the most dangerous new mass media - one which will supersede the internet. With the mobile, one has the ability to sell service via the mobile, to deliver alerts of what is going on in other live media formats, like delivering via mobile alerts, when something is happening in the TV or Radio.
The mobile is the ultimate alert and news media, faster by several order of magnitude over any other. The mobile is the firs always-carried mass media. The phone is with us literally within arm's reach, at all times. Seven out of ten people sleep with the phone within arm's reach, even at night. Also, the mobile is the first mass media with a built-in payment mechanism. It has a click-to-buy mechanism to buy any content, any service, any product, anytime, anywhere, by anyone.
No credit cards nor Bank accounts. You can buy books, CDs, ringbacktones, video games, movie tickets, hotel reservations. Click-to-buy insurance,parking, fishing, license, speeding ticket. Anything you want and have to use the mobile, you just have to click-to-buy. This is the newest mass media, and will soon be the most powerful mass media on the planet. It has enormous implication to the current giant, TV, and to it revenue engine-advertising. It has a huge implication to the Internet,which will soon be overtaken in importance by mobile. Mobile to the Internet is like TV is to radio. The mobile is superior to the Internet.
The Trivial Twitter
Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams The public introduction began in March 2006 inside San Francisco podcasting company Odeo, says Mark Glasser. author of "Twitter Founders Thrive on Micro-Blogging Complaints". He then went to explain that "Odeo" was co-founded by Noah by Noah Glass . In the present time, "Twitter" had been initially used internally by Odeo's employees and became a product of Obvious at this time(PBS)
A short piece written by carlambruno in the Enlightenment of the Mass Media site states: "The Twitter is everywhere, it's on the news, on TV, on Facebook, advertised every where you look. Everywhere they know we will be looking, it's there. This blog is even an advertisement! Because I speak about it, you are curious as to what Twitter really is . The only difference is that I am not getting a big fat cheque for writing this. Murray White, author of "IM: Not Soon Coming Soon" states that in March 2009 Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury strip began to satirize Twitter, with the strip characters ironically highlighting the triviality of "tweets" and Roland defending the need to keep up with constant-update trend of else lose relevance.
Super News, similarly, satirized Twitter as an addiction to 'constant self-affirmation'. So the "Twitter frenzy," states that during a March 2, 2009, episode of The Daily show, the host John stewart negatively portrayed members of congress who chose to "twitter" during President Obama's address to Congress(on February 24, 2009,) rather than pay attention to the content of the speech. The Daily Show Samantha Bee "satirized" media coverage of the service saying 'there's no surprise young people love it - according to reports of young people by middle aged people'. John Stewart described the service as a gimmick.
Another episode of the Daily Show on February 26, 2009, during which host of NBC Nightly news, (a guest on the Daily Show and a journalist) derided "tweets" as 'only having subject matter which refers to the condition of the author in any given moment was interesting enough to publish in Twitter format'.
Andy Carvin, author of "Welcome to the Twitterverse" writes that on February 28, 2009, NPR's Weekend Edition featured a segment in which producer Andy Carvin tried to teach veteran news analyst Daniel Shorr how to use Twitter. Carvin continues by writing "what we are losing is editing," Schorr complained. "I grew up and nothing could be communicated to outside world that didn't go through an editor to make sure you had your facts right, spelling right and so on.
Now, every person is his or her won publisher and/or her own editor or her own reporter ... This discipline that should go with being able to communication is gone." In response, Carvin gave two recent examples of breaking news stories that played out on Twitter: the attacks in Mumbai and the riots in Greece. According to Carvin, Twitter and Facebook users wanted witnessed accounts rather than hearsay. "A system of checks and balances kicks into high gear with people who are jut innately very skeptical - wanting to get to the heart of a matter," said Carvin, "and sometimes stories actually get debunked that way." This is another new-wave in the field of mass communications and media dissemination and consumption.
The Mass Mind and Technique
Certainly Technology, Technique have and are still expanding man's soul. being and reaches. The process of massification corresponds, moreover, to the disappearing of anything resembling a community. We may now ask what position were in today with respect to these factors insofar a technique is concerned. Let us put aside the problem of morality and concern ourselves with public opinion. It is completely orientated in favor of technique; only technical phenomena interest modern men. The machine has made itself master of the heart and brain both of the average man and of the mob.
What excites the Crowd? Performance - whether performance in sports (the result of a sporting technique) or economic performance , in reality they are the same thing. Technique is the instrument of performance. What is important is to get higher and faster; the object of the performance means little. The act is sufficient unto itself. Modern man can think only in terms of figures, and the higher the figures, the greater him satisfaction. He looks for nothing beyond the marvelous escape mechanism that technique has allowed him, to offset the very repressions caused by the life technique forces him to lead.
He is reduced, in the process, to a near utility. Even if he is not a worker on the assembly line, his share of the autonomy and individual initiative becomes smaller. He is constrained and repressed in thought and action by an omnivorous reality which is external to him and imposed upon him. He is no longer permitted to display any personal power. Then suddenly, he learns that the airplane his factory manufactures has flown 700 mile in an hour! All his repressed power soars into flight in that figure. Into that record speed he sublimates everything that was repressed in himself. He has gone a step further towards fusion with the mob, for it is the mob as a whole that is moved by performance that incarnate its will to power. Every modern man expresses his will to power in records he has not established himself.(Ellul)
We have known for some time that technique is of little value if it is not rendered tractable by man. Humanism, then, has been restored to its place of honor; to act contrary to the profundities of human nature is to act irrationally. This represents, for most part, a merely verbal and ideological humanism. There may have been some genuinely humanistic aspects in modern discoveries, but for the most part they have been primarily technical.
A good method applied by an imbecile does not yield good results; and a technique used by a man full of rancor, disgust, or resentment, or by a man who detests it, will not be very efficient. Research, therefore, has taken two directions. It has concerned itself with making the interests of man and technique correspond, thus rendering technique flexible. It has also attempted to take human nature into account in order to keep man from being crushed by technique, thereby becoming an obstacle to technique.
On both these counts there has been an unceasing effort to refine our Knowledge of human techniques in order in order to bridge the gap between man and technique. The claims of the human being have thus come to assert themselves to a greater and greater degree in the development of techniques; this is known as "humanizing the techniques." Man is not supposed to be merely a technical object, but a participant in a complicated movement. His fatigue, pleasures, nerves, an opinions are carefully taken into account. Attention is paid o his reactions to orders, his phobias and his earning. All this fills the uneasy with hope from the moment man is taken seriously. It seems to them that they are witnessing the creation of a Technical Humanism.
These techniques have tended to reconstitute the unity of the human being which had been shattered by the sudden and jarring action of technique. The grand design of human techniques is to make man the center of all techniques. He has been torn in every direction by the technical forces of the modern world and is no longer able of himself, at least on an individual level, to preserve his unity. But this lost unity can be restored by technique on the abstract level of science.
There is no doubt that technique can counter technique; and abstractly man can thereby be restored to unity. A group of techniques is to be formed, therefore, centered on a concept of man and activated by the human techniques. The liberation of man, not only by technique in general, but specifically through the agency of human techniques, a liberation which proceeds as much from within man as from without. With the help of the human sciences, man will be freed from technocracy itself. Technique will combat slavery.
According to Chombart de Lowe, research in this area must be completely disinterested and free from any preoccupation with immediate application. Techniques are in a position to offer man a saner and more balanced life and to free him from material constraints, whether these arise from nature or from actions of other men. The human being is freer when he is no longer in danger of famine and he has some leisure from labor.
Technique is in great part the basis of this freedom In addition, the human techniques purify and free the inner man; this, for example, is the grand design of psychoanalysis. Man, freed and returned to himself, will be much better adapted to life and to the mastery of the difficulties with which the modern world confronts him.(Ellul) This is related to the technologies already discussed above.
To understand online culture, though, we must release our transportation and conduit assumptions because they are no longer functional. We move, again, to a listening mode. As effective listeners have known all along, to receive a message, you cannot be just a receptacle, instead, you reach out to meet the message - the idea, the meaning, the feeling - at least halfway. The listening itself is in motion taking action, traveling, connecting, accessing. Martin Buber has shown that humans' fundamental presence for each other cannot be psychologica l but is relational.
The "between" where we meet is where we really live and are present for each other, not in our minds. Similarly, on-line communication is conducted in a digitized "between" region. While our culture has become more computer-saturated, we've noticed important clues that these newer forms of communication are experientially very similar to what we've previously understood as listening . Although many metaphors in these early stages of a new technology build upon the old directedness assumptions that are most easily recognized by written messages ("mail," "bulletin boards", etc.), increasingly the medium is morphing into re-oralized forms("chat room," "discussion groups", etc.
We must recognize this as an implication of secondary orality, the developmental stage of human life that extends our former emphasis on literacy(Walter Ong) Indeed in e-mail and real-time on-line discussion groups, people typically refer to their experience in speaking/listening terms rather than as writing/reading ("I tell them it's like using the phone only cheaper ... I tell them they can talk to people all over the world if they want," I say it's a way to talk to people all over the country from your computer" - bulletin board veterans quoted by Metz, 1995).
And most e-mail participants habitually e mulated speech more than prose, producing short, relatively spontaneous,colloquial, and often unedited messages primarily designed to evoke replies . In addition on-line enthusiasts supplement written messages with an array of symbols (often called "emoticons" or "smileys") designed to augment electronic messages with some of the nonverbal context on which listeners rely in face-to-face conversations.
The regulation of the internet may be unbureaucratic(at least to this point), but it is regulated nevertheless. Its informal regulation mimics how everyday talk is coordinated; that is, the internet's viability depends upon a humane, community-based or ensemble sense of how speakers and listeners can work together to guarantee the optimum quality and kind of use for the optimum number of persons.
Internet protocol depends upon the assumption that large groups of people will not take unfair advantage of their opportunities to do just that, primarily because of implicit sanctions and emerging tradition. This, of course, is true more in the ideal than in how the ideal translates into practice, but most communication theorists are probably struck but how well, not how sloppily, the Internet works.
Assumptions of online communication recognize the listening needs of humans, not just their speaking and writing needs. As we interact with computer and computer enabled gadgets today, we are immersed in many of the same ways as we are when surrounded by sound. We treat "electric writing as if it were speech - spontaneously with immediacy and the assumption of present - and its reading therefore as if it were a new kind of listening."(Heim, 1987).
What arises out the new media technology, is a reminder that receivers are not receptacles, and must "move toward" persons and messages rather than just waiting for them passively This movement is to a new space, a new distant and deferred presence , that is strangely both unfamiliar and familiar. This sense of presence is unfamiliar because the "old metaphors" seem oddly dissonant; it is also familiar, however, as it legitimizes what philosophers have shown to be the essence of communication. We are presently making-up or playing catching-up...
Advertisements And Their Techniques Creates a Mutation In the Maas Mind and Consumers
Below I would like to explore the impact and effects of advertisement and how it affect the psyche and ideal life of people. What I am saying is that,people are put into a position of responding to the seductive forms and nature of commercials that in the end they think that it is a normal thing that they should do: but what they do not know is the they are subliminally seduced. This is important to note because, as Ellul notes below, advertisements are made 'to affect people." What I am saying is that many people do not know this and they think it is part of their routine or how they roll in life.
The persuasive techniques are affected psychologically, and today they use media and the new emerging media to make sure the function. Whether one is on the social media(as Twittter has now gone commercial by investing in stocks, meaning advertisers are going to have a field day in it),, or wading in the Web's viral soup, advertisements or commercials of all form beckon to the user to see, buy and use their wares.
This, Ellul contends, produces and creates a new human being. It is worth noting the role of technique in affecting and applying this change to the targeted audience, and it is this mutation, which Ellul alludes to that we should learn more about. It is therefore to have this very long piece by Ellul in order to edify the thrust of the Hub above
The article below is important for this Hub because it goes even much more in-depth about this phenomenon which seemingly is normal, but in effect it has been induced and grilled/drilled into our psyches and consciousness. Also, the article of Jacques Ellul below is one of the many things we need to study about the dissemination and our imbibing most of the glitz and blitz of commercials, and what that portends for us, and how we come out at the other end of the commercial and its inducements.
I like the part where Ellul writes that:
" It seems clear that there must be some common measure between the means and the ends subordinated to it. The required solution, then, must be a technical inquiry into ends, and this alone can bring about a systematization of ends and means. The problem becomes that of analyzing individual and social requirements technically, of establishing, numerically and mechanistically, the constancy of human needs."
It is these needs of humans that are the target of the technicians that formulate these advertisement techniques in order to make a sale, but ""it is impossible to create interstellar man out of the existing prime matter; auxiliary technical instruments and apparatus must compensate for his insufficiencies.: The best and most striking example of such subsidiary instruments is furnished by the complex of so-called "thinking machines," which certainly belong to a very different category of techniques than those that have been applied up to now." (Ellul)
The introduction and use of technologies that are constantly emerging, is a haven for the advertisers to get more customers and hoards of shoppers for whatever they are hawking so that they can realize their profits. This cannot be spun any other way. The advertisers see a gold mine in persuading and seducing their potential customers, that in the long run, these consumers come to think that whatever they are doing is normal and is the way they way, or how things are or ought to be, because they control that and nobody has forced them to act in that manner. well, learning about advertisements for the article below, will clarify some of these misconceptions and myths, and the truth, once one can go through the Ellul's article, it will become even much more clearer as to why, after viewing these advertisement, we go on to act, unconsciously, but falsely thinking that one is consciously doing so, but never wonder as to why we have some acquired behavior we mistakenly take to be of our own choosing and what we have planned. Well, the article by Ellul below make some of these issue much more clearer.
Therefore, we read and learn from Ellul's excerpt from his book "The Technological Society" that:
A Way Of Seeing The Global Village In Today's Technological Society
ADvertisment Techniques And The Effects/Affects In Conditioning Man
Modern society is moving toward a mass society, but the human being is still not fully adapted to this new form.
The purpose of human techniques is to defend man, and the first line of defense is that he be able to live. If these techniques strengthen him in his nineteenth-century individualism (itself no ideal state of affairs), they only aggravate the split between the material structures of society, the social institutions, and the forces of production, on the one hand, and man's personal tendencies, on the other. This presupposes that technique can in fact defend man's individuality. But such a disruption is technically impossible because it would entail insupportable disorders for man. Human techniques must therefore act to adapt man to the mass. Moreover, these techniques remain at variance with the other material techniques on which they depend. They must contribute to making man a mass man and help put an end to what has hitherto been considered the normal type of humanity. The type that will emerge and the type that will disappear will be the subjects of a forthcoming work. For the moment, it suffices to establish concretely the tendencies of our human techniques to create the mass man.
Material techniques usually result in a collective social form by means of a process which is largely involuntary. But it is sometimes voluntary; the technician, in agreement with the technical data, may consider a collectivity a higher social form. Involuntary and voluntary action are both to be observed, for example, in the sphere of psychological collectivization. I have indicated . . . the means by which this involuntary and, in a way, automatic adaptation appears. I shall refer to one other striking phenomenon of involuntary psychological collectivization; advertising.
The primary purpose of advertising technique is the creation of a certain way of life. And here it is much less important to convince the individual rationally than to implant in him a certain conception of life. The object offered for sale by the advertiser is naturally indispensable to the realization of this way of life. Now, objects advertised are all the result of the same technical progress and are all of identical type from a cultural point of view. Therefore, advertisements seeking to prove that these objects are indispensable refer to the same conception of the world, man, progress, ideals - in short, life.
Once again we are confronted by a technical phenomenon completely indifferent to all local and accidental differences. Indeed, American, Soviet and Nazi advertisements are in inspiration closely akin; they express the same conception of life, despite all superficial differences of doctrine. The Soviet Union, after having for a period violently rejected the technical system of advertising publicity, had more recently found it indispensable.
Advertising, which is founded on massive psychological research that must be effective, can "put across" the technical way of life. Any man who buys a given object participates in this way of life and, by falling prey to the compulsive power of advertising, enters involuntarily and unconsciously into its psychological framework.
One of the great designs of advertising is to create needs; but this is possible only if these needs correspond to an ideal of life that man accepts. The way of life offered by advertising is all the more compelling in that it corresponds to certain easy and simple tendencies of man and refers to a world in which there are no spiritual values to form and inform life. When men feel and respond to the needs advertising creates, they are adhering to its ideal of life. This explains the extremely rapid development, for example, of hygiene and cocktails. No one, before the advent of advertising, felt the need to be clean for cleanliness' sake. It is clear that the models used in advertising (Elsie the Cow, for instance) represent an ideal type, and they are convincing in proportion to their ideality. The human tendencies upon which advertising like this is based may be strikingly simpleminded, but they nonetheless represent pretty much the level of our modern life. Advertising offers us the ideal we have always wanted (and that ideal is certainly not a heroic way of life).
Advertising goes about its task of creating a psychological collectivism by mobilizing certain human tendencies in order to introduce the individual into the world of technique. Advertising also carries these tendencies to the ideal, absolute limit. It accomplishes this by playing down all other human tendencies. Every man is concerned, for example, about his bodily health - but show him Superman and it becomes his destiny to be Superman. In addition, advertising offers man the means for realizing material desires which hitherto had the tiresome propensity of not being realized. In these three way, psychological collectivism is brought into being.
Advertising must affect all people; or at least an overwhelming majority. Its goal is to persuade the masses to buy. It is therefore necessary to base advertising on general psychological laws, which must then be unilaterally developed by it. The inevitable consequence is the creation of the mass man. As advertising of the most varied products is concentrated, a new type of human being, precise and generalized, emerges. We can get a general impression of this new human type by studying America, where human beings tend clearly to become identified with the ideal of advertising. In America, advertising enjoys universal popular adherence, and the American way of life is fashioned by it.
In addition to the involuntary, psychological activity which leads to the creation of the mass man, there are certain conscious means which can be used to attain the same end. We must not misunderstand the qualification conscious in this connection. The degree of choice is very small; the process is effectively conditioned by material techniques and the beliefs they engender. However, this consciously concerted action is geared to psychological collectivization and, unlike advertising techniques, exerts a direct effect. It has a twofold basis and a twofold orientation, and centers about the notions of group integration and unanimity. . . .
Up to now, in discussing human techniques we have considered only man's need for adaptation with a view to his happiness or, at least, his equilibrium. This plays a role here too. For example, it can be shown that in our society the individual experiences tranquility only in a consciously gregarious state. This involves not only the undeniable "strength of unity" and "forgetfulness of one's lot in the crowd," but also the conscious recognition of the need to apply adequate remedies to social dangers. In our culture, the person who is not consciously adapted to his group cannot put up adequate resistance. Lewin's studies of anti-Semitism, for example, indicate that the Zionist groups with their collective psychology were able to withstand persecution much more readily than were the unorganized Jews who had retained an individualistic mentality.
It cannot be denied that this kind of conscious psychological adaptation, which gives the individual a chance to survive and even be happy, can produce beneficial effects. Though he loses much personal responsibility, he gains as compensation a spirit of co-operation and a certain self-respect in his relations with other members of the group. These are eminently collectivist virtues, but they are not negligible, and they assure the individual a certain human dignity in the collectivity of mass men.
While I have insisted on the "humanistic" tendencies of human techniques and, starting from the premise that man must be adapted to be happy, have tried to demonstrate the necessity of these techniques and their interrelation with all other techniques, my attitude has been resolutely optimistic. I have presupposed that technical practices and the intentions of the technicians were subordinated to a concern with human good. And when I traced the background of the human techniques, I proceeded from the most favorable position, that of integral humanism, which it is claimed, is their foundation.
But there are more compelling realities. The tendency toward psychological collectivization does not have man's welfare as its end. It is designed just as well for his exploitation. In today's world, psychological collectivization is the sine qua non of technical action. Munson says: "By building the morale of the troops, we are trying to increase their yield, to substitute enthusiastic self-discipline for forced obedience, to stimulate their will and their attention - in short, we are pursuing success." There he gives us the key to the kind of psychological action: the yield is greater when man acts from consent, rather than constraint. The problem then is to get the individual's consent artificially through depth psychology, since he will not give it of his own free will. But the decision to give consent must appear to be spontaneous. Anyone who prates about furnishing man an ideal or a faith to live by is helping to bring about technique's ascendancy, however much he talks about "good will." The "ideal" becomes so through the agency of purely technical means whose purpose is to enable men to support an insupportable situation created within the framework of technical culture. This attitude is not the antithesis of the humanistic attitude; the two are interwoven and it is completely artificial to try to separate them.
Human activity in the technical milieu must correspond to this milieu and also must be collective. It must belong to the order of the conditioned reflex. Complete human discipline must respond to technical necessity. And as the technical milieu concerns all men, no mere handful of them but the totality of society is to be conditioned in this way. The reflex must be a collective one. As Munson says "In peacetime, morale building aims at creating among the troops the state of mental receptivity which makes them susceptible to every psychological excitation of wartime." And this "receptivity" must also be installed in every other human group in the technical culture, and especially in the masses of the workers.
Psychological conditioning presupposes collectivity, for masses of men are more receptive to suggestion than individuals, and, as we have seen, suggestion is one of the most important weapons in the psychological arsenal. At the same time, the masses are intolerant and think everything must be black or white. This results from the moral categories imposed by technique and is possible only if the masses are of a single mind and if countercurrents are not permitted to form.
The conditions for psychological efficiency are, first, group integration and, second, group unanimity. (This should not be taken to mean that on a larger scale there may not be a certain diversity.) I am speaking of a determinate group (for example, a political party, the army, an industrial plant) which has a definite technical function to fulfill. The purpose of psychological methods is to neutralize or eliminate aberrant individuals and tendencies to fractionation. Simultaneously, the tendency to collectivization is reinforced in order to "immunize" the environment against any possible virus of disagreement.
When psychological techniques, in close co-operation with material techniques, have at last succeeded in creating unity, all possible diversity will have disappeared and the human race will have become a bloc of complete and irrational solidarity.
A LOOK AT THE FUTURE
. . . the human race is beginning confusedly to understand at last that it is living in a new and unfamiliar universe. The new order was meant to be a buffer between man and nature. Unfortunately, it has evolved autonomously in such a way that man has lost all contact with his natural framework and has to do only with the organized technical intermediary which sustains relations both with the world of life and with the world of brute matter. Enclosed within his artificial creation, man finds that there is "no exit"; that he cannot pierce the shell of technology to find again the ancient milieu to which he was adapted for hundreds of thousands of years.
The new milieu has its own specific laws which are not the laws of organic or inorganic matter. Man is still ignorant of these laws. It nevertheless begins to appear with crushing finality that a new necessity is taking over from the old. It is easy to boast of victory over ancient oppression, but what if victory has been gained at the price of an even greater subjection to the forces of the artificial necessity of the technical society which has come to dominate our lives?
In our cities there is no more day or night or heat or cold. But there is overpopulation, thraldom to press and television, total absence of purpose. All men are constrained by means external to them to ends equally external. The further the technical mechanism develops which allows us to escape natural necessity, the more we are subjected to artificial technical necessities. . . The artificial necessity of technique is not less harsh and implacable for being much less obviously menacing than natural necessity. When the Communists claim that they place the development of the technical society in a historical framework that automatically leads to freedom through the medium of the dialectical process; when Humanists such as Bergson, or Catholics such as Mounier, assert that man must regain control over the technical "means" by an additional quantity of soul, all of them alike show both their ignorance of the technical phenomenon and an impenitent idealism that unfortunately bears no relation to truth or reality.
Alongside these parades of mere verbalisms, there has been a real effort, on the part of the technicians themselves, to control the future of technical evolution. The principle here is the old one we have so often encountered: "A technical problem demands a technical solution." At present, there are two kinds of new techniques which the technicians propose as solutions.
The first solution hinges on the creation of new technical instruments able to mediate between man and his new technical milieu. Robert Jungk, for example, in connection with the fact that man is not completely adaptable to the demands of the technical age, writes that "it is impossible to create interstellar man out of the existing prime matter; auxiliary technical instruments and apparatus must compensate for his insufficiencies.: The best and most striking example of such subsidiary instruments is furnished by the complex of so-called "thinking machines," which certainly belong to a very different category of techniques than those that have been applied up to now. But the whole ensemble of means designed to permit human mastery of what were means and have now become milieu are techniques of the second degree, and nothing more. Pierre de Latil, in his La Pensee artificielle [Artificial Thought], gives an excellent characterization of some of these machines of the second degree:
"In the machine, the notion of finality makes its appearance, a notion sometimes attributed in living beings to some intelligence inherent in the species, innate to life itself. Finality is artificially built into the machine and regulates it, an effect requiring that some factor be modified or reinforced so that the effect itself does not disturb the equilibrium . . . Errors are corrected without human analysis, or knowledge, without even being suspected. The error itself corrects the error. A deviation from the prescribed track itself enables the automatic pilot to rectify the deviation . . . For the machine, as for animals, error is fruitful; it conditions the correct path."
The second solution revolves about the effort to discover (or rediscover) a new end for human society in the technical age. The aims of technology, which were clear enough a century and a half ago, have gradually disappeared from view. Humanity seems to have forgotten the wherefore of all its travail, as though its goals had been translated into an abstraction or had become implicit; or as though its ends rested in an unforeseeable future of undetermined date, as in the case of Communist society. Everything today seems to happen as though ends disappear, as a result of the magnitude of the very means at our disposal.
Comprehending that the proliferation of means brings about the disappearance of the ends, we have become preoccupied with rediscovering a purpose or a goal. Some optimists of good will assert that they have rediscovered a Humanism to which the technical movement is subordinated. The orientation of this Humanism may be Communist or non-Communist, but it hardly makes any difference. In both cases it is merely a pious hope with no chance whatsoever of influencing technical evolution. The further we advance, the more the purpose of our techniques fades out of sight. Even things which not long ago seemed to be immediate objectives - rising living standards, hygiene, comfort - no longer seem to have that character, possibly because man finds the endless adaptation to new circumstances disagreeable. In many cases, indeed, a higher technique obliges him to sacrifice comfort and hygienic amenities to the evolving technology with possesses a monopoly of the instruments necessary to satisfy them. Extreme examples are furnished by the scientists isolated at Los Alamos in the middle of the desert because of the danger of their experiments; or by the would-be astronauts who are forced to live in the discomfort of experimental camps n the manner so graphically described by Jungk.
But the optimistic technician is not a man to lose heart. If ends and goals are required, he will find them in a finality which can be imposed on technical evolution precisely because this finality can be technically established and calculated. It seems clear that there must be some common measure between the means and the ends subordinated to it. The required solution, then, must be a technical inquiry into ends, and this alone can bring about a systematization of ends and means. The problem becomes that of analyzing individual and social requirements technically, of establishing, numerically and mechanistically, the constancy of human needs. It follows that a complete knowledge of ends is requisite for mastery of means. But, as Jacques Aventur has demonstrated, such knowledge can only be technical knowledge. Alas, the panacea of merely theoretical humanism is as vain as any other.
"Man, in his biological reality, must remain the sole possible reference point for classifying needs," write Aventur. Aventur's dictum must be extended to include man's psychology and sociology, since these have also been reduced to mathematical calculation. Technology cannot put up with intuitions and "literature." It must necessarily don mathematical vestments. Everything in human life that does not lend itself to mathematical treatment must be excluded - because it is not a possible end for technique - and left to the sphere of dreams.
Who is too blind to see that a profound mutation is being advocated here? A new dismembering and a complete reconstitution of the human being so that he can at last become the objective (and also the total object) of techniques. Excluding all but the mathematical element, he is indeed a fit end for the means he has constructed. He is his essence. Man becomes a pure appearance, a kaleidoscope of external shapes, an abstraction in a milieu that is frighteningly concrete - an abstraction armed with all the sovereign sings of Jupiter the Thunderer.
Disturbing Trends In Subliminal Advertising
Subliminal Seduction Redux: Mind Over Computer
In one short article by Martin Howard, he points out as to the methods that are applied to seduce us subliminally through advertisement. It will be worth it to note some of these methods here on this Hub.
Subliminal advertising has gone mainstream - fake news, mind control scripts, propaganda and stealth voicemail are in wide use by corporations, government bodies and industry groups.
Some of the biggest advertisers are taking their advertising away from full page ads and television spots and spending up on hidden persuasion. You won't find these secret messages in ice-cubes or flickering film footage like they were in the sixties. Subliminal advertising has gone mainstream - fake news, mind control scripts, propaganda and stealth voicemail are in wide use by corporations, government bodies, and industry groups. Have you spotted any of these?
1. Point of Sale Mind Control Scripts
Clothing store staff and car salesmen use them to close the deal - carefully planned questions and subverbal cues to get you to sign. If you’ve ever walked out of a store, after spending twice as much as you wanted to, chances are you’ve fallen victim to one of these scripts. The GAPACT is used by Gap staff to upsell you. Other salesmen use word techniques to make you buy, even when you don’t have the money - because they make more by selling you 'easy' finance. When a car salesmen takes you on a test drive and asks you “Is this the type of vehicle you would like to own?”, he is using a subtle mental framing trick - it can create an embarrassing distraction while you drive. The technique is called disassociation - which is the ideal state for mental manipulation.
2. Doctor-Patient Drug Kick-backs
When a doctor recommends a certain heart medication or an antidepressant, chances are he has been paid a cash bonuses and perks by the manufacturer, making it difficult to give objective advice. Some pharmaceutical firms have gone so far as to invent and promote a new syndrome in order to create a market for a new drug! Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) was devised in 1998 and publicised by planting fifty press stories and quizzes such as: “Do you have social anxiety disorder?”. Soon after, Smithkline Beecham released Paxil - the 'cure' for SAD.
3. In-Store Sensory Manipulation
Scientifically tested visual displays, Muzak tapes, and even mind altering scents combine to maximize impulse spending. Specially designed music loops can keep shoppers in the supermarket for 18% longer. One study into use of airborne aromas, pumped into a Canadian mall, resulted in an increase of over $50 per customer that week. In supermarkets, scientifically generated Planograms create the ideal shelf arrangement for certain products, skewing the shopper's eyes towards high value items. Companies pay slotting allowances for favoured placement. Aisle layout are change regularly - which prevents systematic shopping - forcing extra trips past the impulse item displays.
4. Private Conversation Rental
Positive buzz can be triggered artificially for a price. Marketers now recruit secret 'buzz agents' to promote to their friends and family. One buzz agency claims to have an army of agents in every major US city. Their job is to mention or display certain products as they go about their day, using their relationships as marketing channels. Music labels, book sellers, entertainment venues, and fashion outlets are using this method to establish new brands. Today’s billion dollar 12-16 year olds are so immune to traditional advertising, mass media is no longer a reliable persuasive device - so the alternative is a 'synthetic grapevine.’
Corporations are going to enormous lengths to probe the minds of consumers - literally tapping into their brains. The Brighthouse Institute for Thought Sciences, in Atlanta, is one lab that is scanning people's brains with MRIs, in an effort to decode and record our subconscious thoughts and devise more seductive advertising. The process is being called neuromarketing. They are hoping to determine specific biological triggers that can be used by language engineers to stimulate purchases. This is the hi-tech fulfilment of pioneer psychologists Freud and Jung who established the connection between language and behaviour.
6. Chatbots and Stealth Voicemail
Personal phone messages from businesses or political campaigners can turn up in your morning voicemail, having been delivered late the previous night. Voicemail broadcasters like DialAmerica uses massive computer installations to deliver identical copies of spoken messages to millions of householder simultaneously. On the internet, chat room 'bots' masquerading as personal real buddies are actually distributed simultaneously by powerful computers 24 hours a day. Virtual word-of-mouth communication is replacing other promotional technologies because of its speed and price.
7. Real-time Bugging of Personal Data
Your browser is probably revealing more than you might want: your location, the software and hardware you are using, details of other links you clicked on and your browsing habits. Many third party dataminers use 'cookies' to track your path across the web. Extensive realtime information is processed to target you. Larger databases harvest your personal medical and financial records to be bought and sold by interested companies and government departments. Datamining is a fuzzy science that filters you personal information for links about your personal behaviour and finances. These details are used in turn to create elaborate marketing campaigns to sell you more stuff.
8. Sidewalk Stalkers
The public space of streets, neighborhoods and communities is being mapped and targeted by viral marketers and fake grassroots organizations. In some cases the campaigns are overt but, increasingly, street 'agents' are making unannounced social approaches. Fake tourists flash around the latest camera-phone to passing crowds. 'Product seeders' circulate at sports events to find influential young players to wear their gear. Others wander the street wearing colored corporate tattoos. Personal space is the last frontier for commerce. As citizens attempt to retreat from the deluge of media advertising they can now be stalked when they step out the door.
9. Planted News Stories
Industry front groups, public relations firms and government departments are planting news stories on TV, radio, newspapers and the web. Those 'miracle drug' stories or research reports are often Video News Release (VNRs). TV newsrooms love these prepackaged news items that are distributed across the networks. It saves them time and money but it is killing community news and genuine investigative reporting. Real news items are being replaced by slick corporate promotions and political messages. According to one Nielsen Media Research Survey, about 80 percent of U.S. news directors air VNRs several times a month, and all American television newsrooms now use VNRs in their newscasts.
10. Government Propaganda
When it's time to launch a war or promote an unpopular policy, the government needs special help to sell the idea through the media. Opinion engineers are paid to "manage" public perception of inconvenient facts, and turn them around for better. Using the universal tools fear, patriotism, and phrase repetition, these high flying spin doctors can easily sway the population. The most successful public relations campaigns aim to change public perception without our awareness of the campaign. They are typically launched by governments, institutions and countries who need to change their public image, restore their reputation or manipulate public opinion. There are PR firms today who advise dictatorships, dishonest politicians and corrupt industries to cover up environmental catastrophes and human rights violations.
These are some of the myriad ways used and applied by the Public relations technicians in order to hawk their wares. The various instances cited above are but just one of the many we become conditioned and controlled by the memes and zines that parade as part of our lives, and yet they have a much more insidious prupose: to get us into the action of buying into or whatever it is that they are selling. As I have said, citing these long articles, one by Ellul and this one byMartin Howard, is to bring about awareness to the reader of this Hub the need that is there for us to know not only how these advertisements work on us, but in what part of our lives are they planted and propagated. Mind control techniques ultimate aim is to make us to be obedient to the persuasions of these sleek presentation.
We get to see how these mind controlling messages are used and in what types of settings or media environments.. Learning about them, at least helps us understand our own behaviors and needs, as to whether they are generated by something outside ourselves or by us. Meaning, we need to understand why we act as we do, shopping incessantly ad morbidly, and what it is that subconsciously marshals our thought patterns to buy things we did not intend to purchase, but we do so because we have been psychologically affected in ways that we see subconsciously or cannot recall in our conscious moment.
Which, in the final analysis, we think we are in control of the urges, but these are merely subliminally planted unconscious ideas that we are responding to consciously, and think we are making decisions. So that, ultimately, technological techniques and gizmos enable the public relations people to overrun us and we in the end, obey them. But is the use of these techniques through their emerging gizmos which are 'supposedly able to out-think us as human being even though we have created the computers and invented electricity to give birth to machinery whose technique is bent to take over our mental habits and what our minds are able to learn, or get used to knowing? Well it would be interesting to see what other thinkers have to say on the subject.
This is one other aspect of the mind and the present computer/internet connection and thrust that I began to ask myself if we think better than computers or do computers think, and if so, better than us? There are many schools of thought to these probing question. I will simply look at two of these many people who are dealing with this topic today.
Since the advent of computers and our part dependence on them today, some have begun to think that computers can out-think us and that they can in effect think. so that then the question becomes, is the computer the brains siamese twin or is the brain a totally different entity which does its think, akin to that of a computer, and then some. The computer, according to some writers, does ape the brain, but it is devoid of the empathy and humanness that the human brain brings to our existence, thinking and survival.
One of the first things students debate in a high school AP history class is Thomas Carlyle’s “Great Man” theory of history, taking sides on the bedeviling question: “Does the man make the moment or the moment make the man?” Carlyle led other 19th century historians in claiming, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” A similar orthodoxy long dominated neuropsychology: the brain controls the mind, which has no independent existence outside of the chemical reactions and patterns which constantly fire inside our brains. Neuro-biologists have long held that the brain exclusively drives the mind, and that the mind serves only the individual self.
But a new breed of medical scientists is challenging this linear approach to the relationship between the objective physical world and subjective mental life. Dan Siegel, a professor at UCLA medical school, argues that the mind can be shared with others, and that these inter-personal neural networks can in fact shape the brain. The brain and the mind obviously have an intimate relationship, but the mind is different: it is a collection of thoughts, patterns, perceptions, beliefs, memories and attitudes. As Siegel explains, “The mind can use the brain to perceive itself, and the mind can be used to change the brain.”
Siegel is author of the best-selling Mindsight and founder of the Mindsight Institute, which Siegel calls an action-oriented think-tank. At UCLA, he founded the 'Center for Culture, Brain and Development', which investigates how cultural and social relations inform brain development, how the brain organizes such experiences and knowledge, and how such developments in turn give rise to a cultural brain. Our cultural practices such as emotional bonds to family or religious devotion are themselves repetitive patterns of energy use that stimulate (from the outside) discernable neural firing patterns and synaptic connections. Our brains become used to, and even develop a preference for, certain patterns, meaning the brain can be trained to behave, and even gradually evolve, based on the activities of the mind.
Technology is helping us shed ever more focused light on which parts of our brain direct specific actions or respond to diverse stimuli. Advancements in artificial intelligence have benefited from such insights, leading to devices which can “read your mind,” i.e. discern signals of will and intention, for example with respect to where you wish to move a computer mouse, and translate that intent into action. By this logic, culture is literally a “state of mind,” a cluster of signals which believers of a certain faith share in common. By extension, cultural evolution is to some extent the mutation of patterns of mental signals shared by groups of people. For this reason, the Dalai Lama has embraced this research, and recently spoke at a prominent gathering of neuro-scientists and educators.
Since brain plasticity is greater earlier in life, Siegel is working with children to test patented new communicative technologies that help to transmit the non-verbal signals and a sense of internal mental experience between young people such that they may develop more accurate and empathetic understands of others. Such devices focus on the pre-frontal cortex where our “mental maps” of the self, others, and collective are developed and stimulated. This part of the brain can’t be fooled: it knows when you are communicating with other human beings versus playing a video game. Digital games distort these mental maps, substituting the evoking of action for inter-personal connections. The result can be stunted emotional development. Not just “Grand Theft Auto” but even Baby Einstein have thus been accused of warping the mind rather than enhancing it. If Siegel’s work continues to yield positive results, it could make a large contribution towards technology making us more empathetic—and yes, humane—than we think is possible today.
Brain Scanning To Make Computers Think Like Humans
The Science of The Human Mind and Human behavior: Cognitive Science.
The emphasis on 'being humane' is what this part of the Hub will attempt to glean some things maybe one does not see because of the way the brain functions. Some have stated that the computer covers those weak-links that we have as to how we use/apply our brains to basic phenomena in our existential reality.
This means, in a way we will have to briefly look at the Science of the Human Mind and Human Behavior to begin to understand if whether the computer thinks-human thinking machine? How this happens is what Searle talks about in his article where examines this science and comes to the conclusion that , as far as the computers are concerned, they are just a Myth.
I do think there is a modicum of control that is created and jettisoned by these new emerging gizmos in tandem with the the facilitation of all that by the Web/Internet, as I have discussed above with the Advertisement. But also, I know as a human being that my will does not accept being controlled to the extent that I loose myself, even if this is a losing proposition. By saying that I mean, the mind is a very intricate organ and the better we understand it from various perspective, the better off we will be in warding off technological incarceration of our minds and bodies as explained above. We learn from Searle that:
"Digital computers, by definition, consist of sets of purely formal operations on formally specified symbols. The ideal computer does such things as print a ')" on the tape, over one square to the left, erase a '1', move back to the right, etc. It is common to describe this as 'symbol manipulation' or, to use the term favored by Hofstadter and Dennett, the whole system is a "self-updating representational system"; but these terms are at least a bit misleading since as far as the computer is concerned, the symbol don't symbolize anything or represent anything. The are just formal counters.
"The computer attaches no meaning, interpretation, or content to the formal symbols' and qua computer it couldn't. because if we tried to give the computer an interpretation of its symbols we could only give it more uninterpreted symbols. the interpretation of the symbols is entirely up to the programmers and users of computer.
"For example, on my pocket calculator if I print"3X3 =," the calculator will print "9" but has no idea that "3" means 3 or that "9" means 9 or that anything means anything. we might put this point by saying that the computer has a syntax but no semantics. The computer manipulates formal symbols but attaches no meaning to them, and this simple observation will enable us to refute the thesis of mind as a program.
"Suppose that we write a computer program to simulate the understanding of Chinese so that, for example, if the computer is asked questions in Chinese, the program enables it to give answers in Chinese; if asked to summarize stories in Chinese, it can give such summaries; if asked questions about stories it has been given, it will answer such questions.
"Now suppose that I, who understand no Chinese at all and can't even distinguish Chinese symbols from some other kinds of symbols, am locked in a room with a number of cardboard boxes full of Chinese symbols. suppose that I am given a book of rules in english that instruct me how to match theseChinese symbols with each other.
"The rules say such things as that the "squiggle-squiggle" sign is to be followed by the "squoggle-squoggle" sign. Suppose that people outside the room pass in more Chinese symbols and that following the instructions in the book I pass symbols back to them. Suppose that unknown to me the people who pass me the symbols call them "questions," and the book of instructions that I word from the call "the program"; thee symbols I give back to them they call "answers to the questions" and me they call "the computer."
"Suppose that after a while the programmers get so good at writing the programs and I get so good at manipulating the symbols that my answers are indistinguishable from those of native Chinese speakers. I can pass the Turing test for understanding Chinese. But all the same I still don't understand a word in Chinese. But all the same I still don't understand a word of Chinese and neither does any other digital computers because all the computer has is what I have: a formal program that attaches no meaning, interpretation, or content to any of the symbol.
"What this simple argument shows is that no formal program by itself is sufficient for understanding, because it would always be possible in principle for an agent to go through the steps in the program and still not have the relevant understanding. And what works for Chinese would also work for other mental phenomena. I could, for example, go through the steps of the thirst-stimulating program without feeling thirsty. The argument, also, en passant, refutes the Turing test because it shows that a system, namely me, could pass the turing test without having the appropriate metal states..."
So that we now begin to have a better model to work with in understanding, in a way, computer intelligence and how it works. Now, we pick up Searle when he touches a bit on the brain.
"The details of how the the brain works are immensely complicated and largely unknown, but some of the general principles of the relations between brain functioning and computer programs can be stated quite simply. First we know that brain process cause mental phenomena. Mental states are caused by and realized in the structure of the brain. From this it follows, that any system that produced mental states would have to have powers equivalent to those of the brain. Such a system might use a different chemistry, but whatever its chemistry, it would have to be able to cause what the brain causes.
We know from the Chinese room argument that digital computer programs by themselves are never sufficient to produce mental states. Now since brains do produce minds, and since programs by themselves cannot produce minds, it follows that the way the brain does it can't be by simply instantiating a computer program. (Everything, by the way, instantiates some program or other, and brains are no exception. so in that trivial sense brains, like everything else, are digital computers.)
"And it also follows that if you wanted to build a machine to reproduce mental states, a thinking machine, you couldn't do it solely in virtue of the fact that your machine ran a certain kind of computer program. The thinking machine couldn't work solely in virtue of being a digital computer, but would have to duplicate the specific causal powers of the brain."
New And Emerging Technological Gizmos Are Contributing To Our InformationOverload
How We Read, Not What We Read, May Be Contributing To Our Information Overload
We Are informed by Justin Ellis that :
Every day, a new app or service arrives with the promise of helping people cut down on the flood of information they receive. It’s the natural result of living in a time when an ever-increasing number of news providers push a constant stream of headlines at us every day.
But what if it’s the ways we choose to read the news — not the glut of news providers — that make us feel overwhelmed? An interesting new study out of the University of Texas looks at the factors that contribute to the concept of information overload, and found that, for some people, the platform on which news is being consumed can make all the difference between whether you feel overwhelmed.
The study, "ews and the Overloaded Consumer: Factors Influencing Information Overload Among News Consumers" was conducted by Avery Hilton and Iris Chyi. They surveyed more than 750 adults on their digital consumption habits and perceptions of information overload. On the central question of whether they feel overloaded with the amount of news available, 27 percent said “not at all”; everyone else reported some degree of overloaded.
Holton and Chyi asked about the use of 15 different technology platforms and checked for correlation with feeling overloaded with information. Three showed a positive correlation as predictors of overload: computers, e-readers, and Facebook. Two showed a negative correlation: television and the iPhone. The rest — which included print newspapers, Twitter, iPads, netbooks, and news magazines, among others — showed no statistically significant correlations.
The mention of netbooks — that declining form factor — raises an important factor about the study: Its survey took place in 2010, which was like another world when it comes to news consumption platforms. The iPad was brand new; Android was just starting its rapid growth. The kind of early(ish) adopter who was using Twitter or a Kindle in 2010 is likely to be different from the broader user base those platforms have in 2012.
What the findings suggest, Holton said, is that the news platforms a person is using can play a bigger role in making them feel overwhelmed than the sheer number of news sources being consumed. So even if you read The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and ESPN in a day, you may not feel as inundated with news if you read on your phone instead of on your desktop (with 40 tabs open, no doubt). The more contained, or even constrained, a platform feels, the more it can contribute to people feeling less overwhelmed, Holton said. A news app or mobile site, for instance, is an isolated experience that emphasizes reading with minimal links or other distractions. Compared with reading on the web at your computer, your options seem smaller.
“There was no connection between the number of news outlets people were using, so it made us think it was the device,” Holton told me. “You see less of a statistically significance between outlets and more between platforms.”
That may also explain why people have feelings of being overwhelmed by Facebook, which, like reading on the web, can be a bottomless hole of stories, videos, and endless links. But it doesn’t explain why people in the survey had different feelings towards Twitter, which can also be an unyielding stream of links.
“We expected to find some overload in the use of Twitter or YouTube because there is so much content,” Holton said. “But there was no significance we found. Twitter was almost baseline.”
One possible explanation is whether you define yourself as a news junkie. The survey asked people to report how much they enjoyed keeping up with the news — people who said they did had less of a perception of information overload. If you’re the type of person who wants to follow news during the day, it’s likely you have an established routine and a set of sites you check regularly. You also may not need as much context around the news. All of that would make Twitter a good source for you.
Conversely, if you’re more passive about following the news, you might need to make more of an effort to find the right sources or find background or contextual information, which could lead to feelings of being overloaded, Holton said. “Knowing what you’re looking for can decrease overload or perceptions of overload. So can constant engagement,” he said.
Holton said they’re planning to dig deeper into the topic of information overload, looking specifically at how different devices feed feelings of overload. What the data says so far reinforces something we know anecdotally: People have different uses for the different platforms. And a purpose-driven visit to twitter.com is different than a purpose-driven visit to facebook.com. On Twitter, you may be directly looking for news. On Facebook, you may have no agenda other than seeing what your friends are up to.
Family Togetherness In Activities Is One Of The many ways of reorietnation each other and weaning each other from information glut and overload
Marshall McLuhan - The Medium is the Message
It is not so much about the actual technology, that I am focusing on in this Hub, but the circumstances that have kept this technology and its promise to the world civilization outside the consciousness of the minds of the human population. It is the absence of awareness of the effects and affects of technology that interest me and how these manifest and transforms our reality and our environment.
I am very interested in the affects of the ecology of the media on its users and those who avail themselves to it. There are many ways to look at this point of view. I also think it is some of these ways that I will avail on this Hub, and will begin by posting the video of Martinez below, as he addresses Cold Fusion and the media effects on human perception." I tend to think this is relevant as to how mass society is overrun by technique, technology in the present day future.
James Martinez : Cold fusion and the media ecological effects on human perception
Neil Postman - technology is no substitute for human values
Neil Postman on Cyberspace, 1995
Fragmented Media And Extended Users
Fragmentation As A Media Power-Play
One of the ways that is affected and effected by the Internet is audience fragmentation. this is done in many ways which we will explore by citing from James Webster below, where we are thusly informed that:.
"Audience fragmentation is often taken as evidence of social polarization. Yet the tools we use to study fragmentation provide limited information about how people allocate their attention across digital media. We offer a theoretical framework for understanding fragmentation and advocate for more audience-centric studies. This approach is operationalized by applying network analysis metrics to Nielsen data on television and internet use. We find extremely high levels of audience duplication across 236 media outlets, suggesting overlapping patterns of public attention rather than isolated groups of audience loyalists."
Public Attention In An Age Of Digital Media
We further learn from Webster that:
"One of the most widely observed consequences of the growth in digital media is audience fragmentation. As more offerings are delivered on broadband networks and more choices are available “on-demand,” patterns of consumption become more widely distributed. While some celebrate these changes as signaling a more responsive marketplace and robust public sphere (e.g., Anderson, 2006; Benkler, 2007), others see cause for concern.
To them, fragmentation spells the end of a common cultural forum, or worse, the birth of media enclaves and “sphericules” that scarcely interact (Gitlin, 1998; Katz, 1996; Sunstein, 2007). While there is little doubt that broadcasters and main-stream outlets have seen their audiences erode in favor of newer alternatives, the tools we use to track fragmentation tell us surprisingly little about audience loyalties and how public attention moves across digital media. This paper reviews what we know of audience fragmentation, offers new methods for understanding the phenomenon, and speculates on the future of media consumption.
"We begin by outlining a theoretical framework which identifies the factors that promote or mitigate fragmentation. We review three different ways of studying fragmentation. The first is a media-centric approach that tallies total attendance across outlets or products. This mode of analysis is typified by trend lines, long tails, and power law distributions. The second is a user- centric approach that focuses on the media repertoires of individual consumers.
We then describe an alternative audience-centric approach. We demonstrate this third approach by applying network analysis metrics to data from Nielsen’s TV/Internet Convergence Panel, which tracked television and internet use across the same sample. Finally, we offer an assessment of where audience fragmentation is headed. We find very little evidence that audiences are composed of
devoted loyalists. Rather, they show high levels of overlap across outlets, drawing into question assertions that audience fragmentation is indicative of social polarization.
The Factors that Shape Fragmentation
Fragmentation results from the interaction of media and audiences. It is best understood with a theory that lets us move easily between the macro-level effects of structure and the micro- level actions of users. The “theory of structuration,” developed by sociologist Anthony Giddens (1984), provides such a framework and has been adapted to describe the operation of the media environment (Webster, 2008; Webster, 2011).
In a nutshell, we see media as providing resources (media providers) that agents (media users) appropriate to accomplish their purposes. To do this effectively, both parties rely heavily on information regimes (media measures) to monitor consumption. This is a recursive process in which users both reproduce and alter the structural features of the environment. In other words, the media environment is jointly constructed from the interaction of structures and agents – something Giddens called a “duality.” Below, we identify the principle components of the model, highlighting those factors that shape fragmentation. Media Providers
The most obvious cause of fragmentation is a steady growth in the number of media outlets and products competing for public attention. This happens when established media, like television, expand or when newer media, like the internet, enter the competition. These are sometimes categorized as intra- and inter-media fragmentation respectively (Napoli, 2003), though, as digital technologies make it easier for both content and users to move across platforms, such distinctions seem less important. Whatever their means of delivery, media providers work to attract the attention of users. Attention has traditionally been monetized in a
“dual-product” marketplace, where media providers sell content to consumers and “eyeballs” to advertisers (Napoli, 2003).
Adding to the choices and claiming their own share of attention are new offerings loosely referred to as “social media.” These include social networks like Facebook, purveyors of user-generated content like YouTube, and an assortment of content aggregators like Netflix, iTunes, Google and Digg (Webster, 2010). The motivations of these providers are not always as uniform or transparent as those of traditional media, but many seek fame or fortune. To achieve that, they too compete for an audience.
Unfortunately, the supply of public attention is limited and, given the endless number of claimants, scarce. This has led many writers to characterize the information age as an “attention economy” in which attracting an audience is a prerequisite for achieving economic, social or political objectives (e.g., Davenport & Beck, 2001; Goldhaber, 1997; Lanham, 2006; Webster, 2010). That’s certainly the logic that governs the media marketplace, and it’s a recipe for audience fragmentation. Media Users
What media users do with all those resources is another matter. Most theorists expect them to choose the media products they prefer. Those preferences might reflect user needs, moods, attitudes, or tastes, but their actions are “rational” in the sense that they serve those psychological predispositions. Whether people use the growing abundance to consume a steady diet of their preferred genre, or to sample a diverse range of materials is an open question. Many observers, noting people’s penchant for selective exposure, fear the former, particularly as it applies to news (Hollander, 2008; Iyengar & Hahn, 2009; Ksiazek, Malthouse, & Webster, 2010; Prior, 2007; Stroud, 2008; Van den Bulck, 2006). In the extreme, selective exposure could
produce highly focused audiences that have been variously characterized as “enclaves” (Sunstein, 2007), “gated communities” (Turow, 1997), and “sphericules” (Gitlin, 1998).
Social scientists typically expect users to know a good deal about the environment in which they operate. Economic models of program choice, for example, assume a perfect awareness of the alternatives that are available at any point in time (e.g. Owen & Wildman, 1992). In reality, rational choice is “bounded” in two ways. First, the sheer abundance of the digital marketplace makes perfect awareness impossible. Second, media products are “experience goods” characterized by “infinite variety” (Caves, 2000; 2005). Users can’t be sure that even familiar outlets or brands will deliver the desired gratifications until they’ve consumed the offering.
Users cope with these difficulties in a variety of ways. They often have “media repertoires” that effectively limit their choices and minimize their search costs. We’ll have more to say about these in the section that follows. They also rely on recommendations. The power of social networks to affect our media choices has been evident for some time (Katz & Lazarsfeld, 1955), but the emergence of social media has introduced new forces that shape attendance. Media Measures
For media providers to function effectively they must be able to see what the users are doing. Media measures allow them to verify that they have an audience, adjust their strategies for managing attendance and monetize the results. Academics have referred to these types of measures as “market information regimes” (Anand & Peterson, 2000; Andrews & Napoli, 2006). They provide “... the prime source by which producers in competitive fields make sense of their actions and those of consumers, rivals, and suppliers that make up the field” (Anand & Peterson,
2000, p. 271). In the United States and much of the world, media measures are offered by third party providers, like The Nielsen Company and Arbitron.
Media users have become increasingly dependent on their own media measures. For them to find a website that serves their needs, a news item that informs their opinions, or a video that appeals to their preferences, they rely on search and recommendation systems. Collectively, these have been called “user information regimes” (Webster, 2010). Most social media seem to offer some sort of measures that alert users to what their fellow consumers have done or said, often guiding subsequent choices (Cho & Roy, 2004; Salganik, Dodds, & Watts, 2006).
All media measures are the result of gathering and reducing data. As in any research enterprise, the output reflects decisions about what variables to measure, what methods to use, and what information to report. They inevitably portray the media environment in ways that highlight some features and not others (Napoli, 2011; Webster, 2010). Nevertheless, media measures exercise a powerful influence on what users ultimately consume and how providers adapt to and manage those shifting patterns of attendance. Indeed, information regimes can themselves promote or mitigate processes of audience fragmentation (e.g., Anand & Peterson, 2000; Barnes & Thomson, 1994; Napoli, 2011).
Studies of Audience Fragmentation
The audience fragmentation that emerges from this mix of providers, users and measures is generally conceptualized and reported in one of two ways. We have categorized these as media-centric studies and user-centric studies. Each approach operates at a different level of analysis and reflects the priorities and analytical resources of the researchers. Media-centric studies are, by far, the more common of the two. After discussing each, we offer an audience-
centric approach, which has features of the first two but contributes to a more complete picture of how the public allocates its attention across the media environment.
Research on media-centric fragmentation uses discrete media outlets (e.g., channels, websites, etc.) or products (e.g., movies, music, etc.) as the unit of analysis. These are sometimes aggregated into larger groups or brands. The total size of the unit’s audience is reported at a point in time (e.g., Tewksbury, 2005) or in a series of cross-sectional “snapshots” over time (e.g., Webster, 2005). The latter is typically used to illustrate long-term trends in fragmentation and is a staple of many industry reports and forecasts.
An increasingly popular way to represent media-centric data is to show them in the form of a long tail (Anderson, 2006). Here units are arranged from most popular to least with the total audience for each (e.g. monthly reach, unique visitors, total sales, etc.) depicted vertically above the unit. Long tail distributions are akin to a larger family of data reduction techniques including Lorenz curves, Pareto distributions and power laws. All are useful in depicting lopsided patterns of use in which a few units dominate attendance. These distributions are characteristic of “winner-take-all” markets (Frank & Cook, 1995).
Figures 1 and 2 are based on Nielsen’s TV/Internet Convergence Panel data from March 2009 and are long tail distributions of US television channels and internet brands, respectively. The data are described in more detail in the following section.
Insert Figure 1 about here. Figure 1 indicates that, in the United States, the major broadcast networks (indicated
with white bars) reach a greater percent of the population (i.e., monthly cumulative rating) than the cable networks with which they compete. The dominance of a few market leaders is a routine
observation in media markets (DeVany, 2004; Hindman, 2009; Webster, 2005) and signals market concentration. Concentration can be summarized with any one of several statistics, including Herfindahl-Hirschman Indices (HHI) and Gini coefficients (see Hindman, 2009; Yim, 2003). In Figure 1, the drop-off in cable network attendance is not precipitous, producing an HHI of 144.17, which suggests a modest level of overall concentration.
Insert Figure 2 about here. Figure 2 shows the long tail distribution of internet brands, ordered by their monthly
reach (i.e., unique visitors as a percent of the total audience). Here the market leader is Google (58.92%), followed by Yahoo! (51.19%), MSN/Windows Live (39.40%), YouTube (35.77%), AOL Media Network (32.51%), and Facebook (29.35%). In these data, however, we see a relatively sharp drop in attendance as we move down the tail. This example includes only the top 138 brands. One can imagine how long and skinny the tail would be if we were to include all internet outlets. So concentration and fragmentation coexist in long tail distributions, although the balance seems to vary by medium.
For example, the HHI for Figure 2 is 173.14, indicating that the use of internet brands is more concentrated than the use of television channels. Typically, audiences in less abundant media, like radio and television, are more evenly distributed across outlets (i.e., fragmented) than in media with many choices like the internet (Hindman, 2009; Yim, 2003). So the sheer number of providers in competition does not determine the extent of audience fragmentation.
These sorts of long tail distributions, and their accompanying statistics, summarize the level of fragmentation in a given market at a point in time. They typically describe the state of a single medium, rather than combining different media products or platforms. This happens because media measures are generally medium specific and mixing measures would produce an “apples to oranges”
comparison (ratings vs. downloads vs. box office). A second, more fundamental, problem with media-centric studies is rooted in the unit of analysis. With long tails, we can see what is popular and what is not, but we have no idea how consumers move across these options. It could be that fans of niche media consume only those specialized genres and little else, producing polarized audiences.
It could also be that people consume a variety of genres across multiple platforms. These behaviors have implications for how media providers build audiences and how users organize themselves into communities or networks, but they remain “beneath the veneer” (Webster, 2005) of media-centric studies. One way to understand what individuals are doing is to adopt a user-centric approach to studying media consumption.
Just as audiences can be spread across media outlets, each individual’s use of media can be widely distributed across providers or highly concentrated on a particular class of products or outlets. This is fragmentation at the micro-level. Most of the literature on selective exposure would suggest that people will become specialized in their patterns of consumption. While user- centric averages are not hard to come by (e.g., time spent viewing, page views), research on variation across users in anything other than broad a priori categories (e.g., age, gender) is not common. The most relevant exceptions are studies of people’s “media repertoires.”
Repertoires are subsets of available media that individuals use on a day-to-day basis. They are one of several “coping strategies” people have for finding preferred content in an increasingly complex media environment. The majority of this research has been confined to television exposure and “channel repertoires” (e.g., Ferguson & Perse, 1993; Heeter & Greenberg, 1985; Neuendorf, Atkin & Jeffres, 2001; Yuan & Webster, 2006), although recent efforts have begun to incorporate multiple media (e.g., Ksiazek, 2010; van Rees & van Eijck,
2003). Most studies focus on explaining the absolute size of repertoires, but often say little about their composition.
Nonetheless, a user-centric approach has the potential to tell us what a typical user encounters over some period of time. For example, we know that viewers in many countries use only 10 to 15 TV channels a week even when hundreds are available or that the composition of media repertoires is related to the demographic characteristics of consumers (e.g., van Rees & van Eijck, 2003; Yuan & Webster, 2006). But user-centric studies are generally designed to describe typical users or identify types of users. They rarely “scale-up” to the larger issues of how the public allocates its attention across media. Audience-centric Fragmentation
A useful complement to the media- and user-centric approaches described above would be an “audience-centric” approach. As we conceive it, this is a macro-level way of seeing audiences that characterizes them by the other media they use. This hybrid approach is media- centric in the sense that it describes the audience for particular media outlets. It is user-centric in that it reflects the varied repertoires of audience members, which are aggregated into measures that summarize each audience. By doing so, we highlight the extent to which public attention is dispersed across the media environment.
There is a long tradition in audience analysis, rooted primarily in marketing research, that measures the extent to which audiences for multiple media products (e.g., TV programs, networks, magazines, etc.) overlap or are “duplicated.” That is, of the people who use one media product, how many also use another. Some of these studies concentrate on “pairwise” comparisons to assess channel loyalty or audience flow (e.g., Goodhardt, Ehrenberg & Collins, 1987; Webster, 2006).
Others have applied multivariate techniques to search for “viewer-defined program types” (e.g., Kirsch & Banks, 1962; Rust, Kamakura, & Alpert, 1992). Webster (2005) used an analysis of TV network duplication to report that, rather than living in gated communities, viewers of specialized networks seemed to “spend a good deal of time out and about” (p. 380). But most research using such techniques doesn’t address questions of audience fragmentation. In the section that follows, we will describe a new metric, drawn from network analysis, that is built on measures of audience duplication across media outlets. It is illustrative of an audience-centric approach to studying fragmentation.
The Web And The Advent Of Short-Attention span
Public Attention In the Digital Age
A Network Analytic Approach to Fragmentation
"Network analysis is used by social scientists to assess the relationships or links among a set of entities. Our application of these techniques to audiences conceives of media outlets or products as nodes in a network and audience duplication as indicative of a link between nodes. Figure 3 illustrates a network of television channels and internet brands. The enlarged portion shows the link (i.e., the level of duplication) between a pair of nodes, NBC Affiliates and the Yahoo! brand, where 48.9% of the audience watched NBC and also visited a Yahoo! website during March, 2009. In this study, we examined a total of 236 media outlets.
"To summarize such pairwise duplications across all outlets, we needed a parsimonious way to report the number of links for each outlet. Degree is a standard network metric that indicates how many links a node exhibits. In this study, our goal was to compute a degree score for each media outlet. That is, we count the number of outlets that were linked to the outlet of interest. The degree score requires binary distinctions, link or no link, to begin the count. With the existence of a link determined by the level of audience duplication between outlets, the question was how much duplication should be required to declare a link.
"Since there will always be some level of audience duplication just “by chance,” we wanted a conservative standard. Our approach was to compare the observed duplication between two outlets to the “expected duplication” due to chance alone. Expected duplication was determined by multiplying the reach of each outlet. So, for example, if outlet A had a reach of 30% and outlet B a reach of 20%, then 6% of the total audience would be expected to have used each just by chance.1 If the observed duplication exceeded the expected duplication, a link between two outlets was declared present (1); if not, it was absent (0) (See Ksiazek, In Press, for a detailed treatment of this operationalization).
"For each outlet, the number of links is totaled to provide a degree score. For ease of interpretation, we converted these totals to percentages. So, for example, if an outlet had links to all of the other 235 other outlets, its degree score was 100%. If it had links to 188 outlets, its degree score was 80%.
"To provide a summary measure across the entire network of outlets, we computed a network centralization score.2 This score summarizes the variability or inequality in the degree scores of all nodes in a given network (Monge & Contractor, 2003), and is roughly analogous to the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (see Yim, 2003 and Hindman, 2009) that measures concentration in media-centric research. Network centralization scores range from 0-100%. In this application, a high score indicates that audiences tend to gravitate to a few outlets (concentration), while a low score indicates that audiences spread their attention widely across outlets (fragmentation).
The Myth of Enclaves.
The Future of Audience Fragmentation
"One type of audience behavior that is often implied in commentaries on fragmentation is the inclination of users to hunker down in “enclaves” of agreeable, like-minded media (e.g., Sunstein, 2007). Writers have labeled these audience formations gated communities, sphericules, echo-chambers, cyberbalkans, red media – blue media, or, less judgmentally, niches and micro- cultures (Anderson, 2006; Gitlin, 1998; Iyengar & Hahn, 2009; Sunstein, 2007; Turow, 1997; 2006; Van Alstyne & Brynjolfsson, 2005).
"All suggest highly segmented markets with little in common. One problem with the media-centric studies of fragmentation that buttress many of these commentaries is that they provide no direct evidence of the more relevant user- or audience-centric behaviors in question. This leaves analysts free to speculate about the relationship between niche media and audience loyalties.
"Anderson’s reading of media-centric data illustrates the temptation, “...Long Tail forces and technologies that are leading to an explosion of variety and abundant choice in the content we consume are also tending to lead us into tribal eddies. When mass culture breaks apart it doesn’t re-form into a different mass. Instead, it turns into millions of microcultures...” (2006, p.183).
"Others make a similar leap, assuming that fragmentation across highly specialized outlets must mean the existence of highly specialized audiences (e.g., Tewksbury, 2005). The picture that emerges is one of powerful audience loyalties that bind users to their preferred niches. If that were so, we would indeed be confronting a segregated world of media enclaves and micro- cultures. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Our results indicate that, at least across the 236 outlets we examined, there are very high levels of audience overlap. The people who use any given TV channel or website are disproportionately represented in the audience for most other outlets. This result is consistent with recent research that finds little evidence of ideological segmentation in media use (e.g., Garrett, 2009; Gentzkow & Shapiro, 2010).
For example, Gentzkow & Shapiro (2010) reported that visitors to a white supremacist website were far more likely than the general population to visit nytimes.com. Similarly, Elberse (2008) found that even consumers of obscure niche media devoted most of their attention to more broadly appealing fare. These studies, along with the results presented here, suggest that users have rather varied media repertoires.
All-in-all, there is very little evidence that the typical user spends long periods of time in niches or enclaves of like- minded speech. Alternatively, there is also little evidence that the typical user only consumes hits. Rather, most range widely across the media landscape, a pattern confirmed by the low network centralization score. They may appear in the audience of specialized outlets, but they don’t stay long.
What is harder to know, at this point, is just what people are after as they move from outlet to outlet. Our measures of exposure to TV channels and internet brands were quite broad. Far more “granularity” – and a larger sample – is needed to understand exactly what is being consumed. For example, do visitors to a Nazi website go to the New York Times for information on politics or fashion? Moreover, measures of exposure, no matter how precise, cannot tell us how content affects people. It may be that even modest periods of exposure to hate speech or
otherwise obscure media have powerful effects on those who seek it out. In which case, the processes of “group polarization” that Sunstein (2009) fears could still be operating.
That said, neither media-centric nor audience-centric studies of fragmentation provide much evidence of a radical dismembering of society. While Anderson can look at long tails and foresee “the rise of massively parallel culture” (2006, p. 182), we doubt that interpretation. That suggests a profusion of media environments that never intersect. It is more likely that we will have a massively overlapping culture. We think this for two reasons. First, there is growing evidence that despite an abundance of choice, media content tends to be replicated across platforms (e.g., Boczkowski, 2010; Jenkins, 2006; Pew, 2010). Second, while no two people will have identical media repertoires, the chances are they will have much in common. Those points of intersection will be the most popular cultural products, assuming, of course, that popular offerings persist.
The Persistence of Popularity
Perhaps the most fundamental question about media-centric fragmentation is just how far the process can go. Will future audiences distribute themselves evenly across all media choices or will popular offerings continue to dominate the marketplace? Anderson expects that in a world of infinite choice “hit-driven culture” will give way to “ultimate fragmentation” (2006, p. 181). Others believe that “winner-take-all” markets will continue to characterize cultural consumption (e.g. Elberse, 2008; Frank & Cook, 1995).
We are inclined to agree with the latter and offer three arguments why audiences are likely to remain concentrated in the digital media marketplace; these involve the differential quality of media products, the social desirability of media selections, and the media measures that inform user choices.
"The quality of media products is not uniformly distributed. If prices are not prohibitive, attendance will gravitate to higher quality choices. Both media providers and media users seem to have an affinity for “A-list” talent when they can afford it (Caves, 2000). Digital media make it easier for users to consume quality products in two ways. First, the pure “public good” nature of digital media makes them easy to reproduce, and often “free” (Anderson, 2009).
"As Frank & Cook noted, “If the best performers’ efforts can be cloned at low marginal cost, there is less room in the market for lower ranked talents” (1995, p. 33). Second, the increased availability of “on-demand” media promotes this phenomenon. The move to DVRs and downloaded or streamed content makes it simple to avoid the less desirable offerings that were often bundled in linear delivery systems. Consuming a diet of only the best the market has to offer is easier than ever before. This effectively reduces the number of choices and concentrates attention on those options.
"The social nature of media consumption also tends to concentrate attendance for reasons of social desirability. Media have long served as a “coin-of-exchange” in social situations (Levy & Windahl, 1984). A few programs, sporting events, or clips on YouTube are the stuff of water- cooler conversations, which encourages those who want to join the discussion to see what everyone else is talking about.
"The advent of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, may well extend these conversations to virtual spaces and focus the attention of those networks on what they find noteworthy. Often this will be popular, event-driven programming. Recent studies of simultaneous media use during the 2010 Super Bowl and opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics suggest that individuals use social media to discuss these events as they watch TV (NielsenWire, 2010, February 12; 2010, February 19).
"The pursuit of quality and the social aspects of media come together in a third factor that concentrates audiences – media measures. Because digital media are abundant and the products involved are experience goods, users depend on recommendation systems to guide their consumption. While search and recommendation algorithms vary, most direct attention to popular products or outlets (Webster, 2010).
"This creates an environment where slight leads accumulate advantage, sometimes with the speed of a contagion. Salganik, Dodds and Watts (2006) have demonstrated that music downloads are powerfully affected by information on what other users have chosen. The more salient that user information, the more markets are inclined to produce winner-take-all results, although the actual winners are impossible to predict before the process begins. Under such circumstances, the “wisdom of crowds” (Surowiecki, 2004) may not be a reliable measure of quality, but it concentrates public attention nonetheless.
"The persistence of popularity, and the inclination of providers to imitate what is popular, suggests that audiences will not spin off in all directions. While the ongoing production of media by professionals and amateurs alike will grow the long tail ever longer, that does not mean endless fragmentation. Most niche media will be doomed to obscurity and the few who pay a visit will spend little time there.
"Rather, users will range widely across media outlets, devoting much of their attention to the most salient offerings. Those objects of public attention will undoubtedly be more varied than in the past. They will often, though not always, be the best of their kind. They will be the media people talk about with friends and share via social networks. Their visibility and meaning may vary across the culture, but they will constitute the stuff of a common, twenty-first century cultural forum."
Channels of Access and Communication on the Web
Adjusting And Adapting To the Viral Soup Flow
The deluge of memes and zines, of data and metadata at the speed of the viral stream is overwhelming even for the most season technophiles and media savyy users.There is so much presented and such little time that this alters the way narratives are now being written, as observed by Rushkoff. There are positive end results in the usage and accessing of the Web based products and the whole bit. There are also negative effects that alters the time spent on gathering knowledge and information, that in the long run, we have disjointed and milieu that is being overrun by the new gizmos, their technology and techniques, not withstanding, that are ever present in our being immersed and imbibing the media glut that is swirling very fast in the data soup.
The way the present-day technologies are attractive, one can agree with the author above that there will be many people hooked and logged in, and this is presenting many problems because these users are not so well informed about the after and side-effect/affects of their being Linked-up and hooked-up/logged into the viral stream, which is deluging them, and coping is what is still not competent enough to block the outpouring of data, metadata and other informatics in the viral stream today.
Last updated on March 1, 2014
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