Monday, January 14, 2013

Transparency...Is it a problem?

In the Warnick reading the author claims that one of the most problematic aspects of our pro-technology culture is the phenomenon of taking the medium for granted. Warnick labels this phenomenon 'transparency:' "A condition in which the user forgets or is unaware of the presence of the medium." When consumers ignore the medium itself, they often overlook the content's implied messages. For example, a news broadcast of school shootings on Fox News will have a different agenda than a news broadcast of the same subject matter on MSNBC. In other words, one cannot accurately criticize content without taking the medium into consideration.

Many examples of medium-content relationships will not be as obvious as news stories of Fox or MSNBC. Take scripted television programs for example. I think it is safe to say that the media conglomerates in this country use their sitcoms and dramas to promote ideologies that benefit themselves. The classic example of this process is when ABC sitcoms will base some of their episodes in Disney World (the network ABC is owned by Disney). So promoting Disney World may not be the most dangerous thing in the world, but what happens when sitcom narratives focus on the presidential election or the economy. My point being, that as critical citizen we must always keep the medium in mind. And if Warnick is correct in claiming that the rapid growth of technology leads to transparency, then the media conglomerates will enjoy more ideological power in this country. So do you think the phenomenon of transparency is occurring, or even an issue that deserves attention?  


  1. I do think "transparency" is an issue, but I do not see it as being exclusive within today's culture. Surely the societies before us faced the same problems with their own technologies. Media of the 1800s influenced citizens just as media does today. In other words, I don't think our generation should be especially weary of technology. However, we should still exercise the same level of caution when using technology as the generations before us. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a time in which we can simply tune out and overlook the implications of the technologies we use.

  2. I do see "Transparency" within myself, and I can understand how this could be a potential issue. However, our culture is FILLED with ways to gather information to the point in which we're desensitized by the medium to the point where I personally don't see it as a threat to our culture. Wether we are consciously reading a blog post, listening to background radio at the grocery store, or unconsciously reading billboards as we drive around the city; we are exposed to a thousand different messages each day. While the medium takes a hundred different shapes and sizes, I don't think the medium should be the main concern, as the real concern is the messages that the is trying to be conveyed through the medium.

  3. I agree with these comments in that there are messages being sent to us every day through many different mediums. Also, I do not think that this is something that is necessarily new to our generation.

    I think transparency happens quite often - I mean, when classmates to my left and right in my marketing class both have nice Nike running shoes and apparel, Nike is sending me a message through them. In Dr. Donnelly's English 213 class, my entire group has a mac laptop (and one ipad), while I have an hp.

    I understand your point about news broadcasters and the like too - they spin stories certain ways that fit their agendas.

    I think that critical literacy; the ability to stand back and analyze different perspectives and opinions and not taking things at face value, is very important in the face of so many messages and arguments blatantly and subtly being thrown around.

  4. As I sit here listening to music, I can only think about transparency in mainstream pop songs. A great example is LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It." Now, I think it's a fun and catchy song, but I wouldn't consider it good music.

    Good music or not, it's still a popular song.

    The number one purpose for the production of this song is the make money—no surprise here. Producers are paid to figure out what sound will sell. There is blatant product placement in the both lyrics and music video. It's a 3 minute ad, but people see right through it.

    It all comes down to critical literacy. If you understand the song's message and still enjoy this song (like I do), there's no harm done. However, if you can't comprehend the underlying message of this piece of media, there is no telling what other messages you are passively taking in.

  5. I see transparency as being two different issues. I think that technology itself has drastically changed our outlook on how we communicate and gather information, but I don’t think that we are focusing on the medium. Instead of debating whether to use a laptop, tablet or smartphone we are a society simply desiring content. This to me seems like a cultural adaptation, but not something inherently bad.

    On the other hand I think that media is using this transparency to send advertising-driven messages. Brand name items are often noticeable in movies, television or in magazines. I think that our culture is constantly having to sift through messages of what to purchase in order to reach content. This begins to hinder the entertainment access and the way in which we gather news. It almost begins to diminish the ease of certain media.

  6. I think transparency is definitely occurring. I think people as a whole are not thinking about where there information is coming and are just thinking about what they are looking for. I think that people have become so used to technology it has become second nature. So from the time an individual wakes up - checks their email, twitter, Facebook,blog etc. Then goes to watch the news or their favorite tv show, then goes to work where they are more than likely dealing with more emails and working on their own computer. Plus texting. In that entire span of time I think we forget about what we are actually using to get our information and more or less consumed with the information itself. Thus forgetting about the actual piece of technology we are using.