Sunday, March 31, 2013

North Korea

This is the kind of propaganda you will see in North Korea. I've been following this lightly, realizing that this is being pushed to build an army. What are your thoughts? Is this kind of manipulation completely isolated?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Educational" television and yourself

Hello! I'm going to open this post to anybody who feels like talking about themselves for a brief moment. We've probably grew up watching television and watching different television shows targeted to early childhood education. Nick Jr. Playhouse Disney, Ect. I was just wondering if anybody here agrees or disagrees with Postman's attack on Sesame Street.

I was wondering if YOU remember learning anything while watching those early childhood shows.

Are there any songs or scenes you remember that contributed to your "knowledge"?

Were there any early childhood shows that you remember that your parents didn't want you to watch? Why?

Feel free to talk about your favorite early TV show and discuss if you think it was educational or not.

Friday, March 29, 2013

High-Speed Internet? No Thanks...

If I asked you if you wanted to have either $10 or $100, what would you say?

My good friend Time Warner told me that you would rather have $10 because you don't need any more than that, is that right?

Well that's strange, I wonder why they would say that. By the way, can I have that $10 back? I need to pay Time Warner for their crappy Internet services.

It turns out that Time Warner has a habit of overestimating people's modesty—especially that of their customers.

A month ago, Time Warner Cable chief technology officer Irene Esteves suggested that their customers don't want faster Internet speeds, and they especially don't want gigabit speeds offered by Google Fiber. She believes that only businesses will need that sort of bandwidth—a service that Time Warner already offers to such customers.

According to Esteves, "We’re in the business of delivering what consumers want, and to stay a little ahead of what we think they will want... We just don’t see the need of delivering that to consumers."

Rather than being faced with a lack of customer demand, experts believe that Time Warner is simply trying to maximize its profits. Time Warner and similar companies are making a 97% profit for their existing services(check out MIT's Technology Review for more detail).

Until Google Fiber becomes available to the public, we're stuck facing service carriers who offer nearly identical services and prices. Based on Time Warner's attitude, it doesn't matter what we want because they apparently know better.

What do you think? Does Time Warner have it right? Is our Internet speed fast enough based on how much we're being charged for it? Or is Time Warner full of it? You better respond before Time Warner answers for you!

In the meantime, check out the following ad from an honest cable company.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Letter to Victoria’s Secret From a Father

 Just sort of a follow-up to MisRepresentation.

See also the "Update" (under Recent Posts)


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fast Talk Over Commercial Discourse

“The television commercial is the most peculiar and pervasive form of communication to issue forth from the electric plug. An American who has reached the age of forty will have seen well over one million television commercials in his or her lifetime,…competition in the marketplace requires that the buyer not only knows what is good for him but what also what is good…there even exists in law a requirement that sellers must tell the truth about their products, for if the buyer has no protection from false claims, rational decision-making is seriously impaired (126-127).”
These passages from Chapter 9 made me think of the commercials I saw when I was younger—and I am sure I have seen some in recent years—where the commercial would be trying to sell its audience something and talking really fast—I mainly remember these commercials being about medicines or something like it. The main point I am trying to get to is at some point in these commercials there would be a voice over that would say something—like a warning—really fast to where the audience couldn't really tell what the announcer was saying unless there were closed captions or they can follow a fast talking person and understand them. I know I personally change the channel whenever commercials come up, but when I come a crossed commercials like these I would get irritated because I couldn't comprehend them. So for this post I set out to find just those commercials that I am probably not describing well, but I couldn't find any in my search. I did find these two commercial parodies that kind of describe what I was thinking about of the commercials. The only difference is that the “side effects* are said at a pace where its audience can understand the “risks”.

So what do you guys think about these types of commercials that include a fast part of speech or commercials in general? Do you remember the commercials I am talking about? (Can you find one?) Do the parodies portray commercials accurate for the most part? What do the parodies tell us about the discourse about commercials?

*Click on the link to see the other video I was referring to that I found. I couldn't insert it so I had to find another way to incorporate it. Also I would like to warn you that some of the language (of the side effects) is a bit more explicit in this video. Watch it if you want.

Political Discourse Online

Our talk today about political discourse on television got me thinking a lot about political discourse on the internet.  We were complaining today that many of the videos we watched featured a lot of name-calling and other somewhat childish behavior. It struck me that the same type of discourse takes place online. I saw this a lot before the presidential election on social media sites like Facebook and you see it every day in comments on articles or pictures. Like the arguments on television, they are often pointless and really don’t change anything. They say more about the person commenting than they do about the issue, but sometimes it is so difficult not to comment.  

Has anyone else run into these issues? Do we simply ignore these types of arguments or is there a way to improve the state of political discourse online? This article shows four ways to change discourse online.  These points are helpful, but I doubt many people actually follow them. Can the state of political discourse online be changed? What about on television?

Political Discourse

William F. Buckley hosted Firing Line from 1966-1999. In this clip from 1969, he discusses "terror" and military action with noted intellectual Noam Chomsky.

The McLaughlin Group has aired on public television since 1982. 
This episode is from March 18, 2013.

This clip, from Hannity, was posted by Johnny
last week, but in the context of Chapter 9, and the 
two videos above, it deserves another look.

What I am most interested in these clips is how they differ.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Television and the Iraq War

I recently watched the MSNBC documentary Hubris: Selling the Iraq War. For those of you that don’t know, the documentary is about the lies and deceptions that the government used after 9/11 to convince America that they should go to war with Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Before the documentary begins, Rachel Maddow opens the show by comparing the Iraq War with the Vietnam War. Specifically, she discusses the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and points out that the government lied to the American people to convince them that they should go to war with Vietnam.

In the Postman text, the author claims that advertising and television prevent the public from gaining a historical perspective: “In the Age of Show Business and image politics, political discourse is emptied not only of ideological content but of historical content, as well” (136). Based off the similarities between the Iraq War and Vietnam War it seems to me that Postman may be on to something. Thoughts?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The future of advertising moving away from TV?

Because our last chapter focused on television commercials, I thought this blog topic would uncover whether those ads are even a relevant way to reach an audience in this age.

With the use of DVRs and TiVo capabilities most people are waiting to watch a show until they can fast forward and skip all of the advertisements.  I think that this is making commercials on television almost irrelevant to viewers.

I feel that due to this the shift to advertisements online has increased.  Not only are we seeing ads on the sides of our screens while surfing the web, but also before videos load.  I think that this shift is, although sometimes frustrating for the viewer, smart for those marketing products.  The culture's reliance on internet brings about a more widely available opportunity for ads, considering the web goes from computer to tablet to phone, not just the stationary television anymore.

It also allows for much more centralized advertising on what an individual is interested in - take note of the ads that show up on your Facebook feed or on the edges of Google.  Everything is now based on what is "recommended" for you, after having tracked things in the past that you have shown interest in.  Despite this making some people nervous about how much is being monitored while they are searching for sites (that's a whole different blog topic), it does make the ads much more relevant to each person's interests, and produces a higher interaction with ads.

People tend to be untrusting of commericals and ads, what they boast seems too good to be true, and that is often the case, but when commercials and ads are in relation to products and places that you as a consumer are familiar with there is a more likely chance for you to take the time to click.

One way that tv's commercials are remaining relevant is with the addition of "digital disruption." For example, as an article from Ad Age discusses, the ads during the SuperBowl are highly popular, and began to include hashtags and other incentives for people to interact with the content.  Whether it was naming the Budweiser clydesdale, or choosing a side with Oreo, it enabled advertisers to connect with the viewers in a way more suitable to this digital age, and the very common use of second screens.

So now it's time for your comments...
Do you think that television commercials are now irrelevant? Are you more or less skeptical of online ads in comparison to what tv ads boast about products?  Do you still sit through tv commercials?  Do you find ways to ignore ads, or do any intrigue you and stand out from the multitude that we see each day?

Responsibilities of a "Global Community"

In our reading, Postman talks about how as individuals living in an age in which information is rapidly transmitted to so many people, we are exposed to information on a "global" scale. This being the case, we are all often exposed to a lot of terrible things that are going on around the world, such as war, hunger, natural disasters, disease, social injustice, etc. This however does not necessarily mean that we will do anything about these issues. Knowing is not the same as doing. Keeping that in mind, I would like to ask a question; Are we morally obligated to take action to help those in need when we are presented with this information? If we are indeed a "global community," should we not be doing everything we can to help one another instead of sitting back and saying, "Oh dear, that is so terrible. What a shame. That's so sad." Can we really fall back on nationality, race, and religion as community pillars to fall back on when we're exposed to what the rest of the world is dealing with?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Television Commercials

Chapter 9 in Postman's, Amusing Ourselves to Death discusses the topic of television commercials. Postman states, "Because the television commercial is the single most voluminous form of public communication in our society, it was inevitable that Americans would accommodate themselves to the philosophy of television commercials. By "accommodate," I mean that we accept them as a normal and plausible form of discourse (pg. 130)." While writing this post I asked my two friends their opinions on commercials and they stated that they hate commercials and when watching a television show they find another show to watch on a different channel when a commercial comes on. As someone who doesn't watch television that often I find that I don't actually mind commercials much. Some of them are actually quite amusing. What are your opinions on commercials and do you have a favorite commercial? If so post the video on here!

American President

from USA Today, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011
(the above image is from the print version;
read the full text of the article online here)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kim Dotcom: Hero or Villain?

To make a long story short, Kim Dotcom is an Internet entrepreneur glorified by some and vilified by others for his rather shady business endeavors involving file sharing.  Perhaps his most well-known endeavor until recently was the file-sharing site, Megaupload.  However, as you may remember, Megaupload was axed by the US Department of Justice in January of last year, while Dotcom faced (still pending) legal action.

Well Kim Dotcom isn’t one to let the law keep him down, because he’s back with the creatively named website, Mega, which bears more than a little resemblance to Megaupload.  But as Kim Dotcom told The Guardian, he has even higher hopes for Mega, and these go beyond keeping his fingers crossed that the government doesn’t come breaking down his door again.  Instead, Dotcom hopes to soon equip Mega users with secure, encrypted email accounts.  Dotcom reasons that soon “you won't have to worry that a government or Internet service provider will be looking at your email.”

To me, this can only imply that Dotcom may be gearing up to host even more legally questionable activities, using Mega as a shelter.  And, ultimately, I’m not sure what to make of it.  On one hand, I think Dotcom may play an important role in a culture in which Internet security and privacy are becoming more and more prevalent issues.  On the other hand, I think Dotcom may be pushing the boundaries a little too far, thus undermining the legitimacy of his cause as a whole.

What do you guys think?  Is Kim Dotcom taking the necessary steps to combat big brother?  Does his legally questionable activity undermine his credibility?  Is there any way to effectively advocate Internet privacy and security without getting your hands dirty?

War and Media Revisited

This may be completely off topic, but it’s an extension of the argument I tried to make in the discussion on war and media:

How do we know that there is a war going on in the Middle East?  Think about it.  If I asked you how you knew there was a war going on in the Middle East, how would you go about explaining that?  Would you show video coverage from a journalist who was caught in the middle of an ambush?  Show the planes crashing into the Trade Center towers?  Maybe present spreadsheets, documents, or orders for deployment?  Satellite footage of Bagram Air Base… How would you even know that a place like Afghanistan even exists?  I’d tell you that I believe there is a place called Afghanistan, and I do believe there is a war going on there, but only because I’ve spoken to soldiers who have fought over there, who have seen horrible things and tell me about them.  And I’d believe any story they told me over any news story covering the war. 
I guess the point is that we’ve become so concerned with global affairs, but we don’t live our lives globally.  We live them locally.  We are involved in the communities surrounding us and it’s ok if we have no interest in foreign affairs.  It’s like when you see that old, white-bearded man holding the two-year-old girl who’s looking at you like a lost puppy in a third-world pound.  Sure you feel sympathy.  I’d question you if you didn’t, but are you going to do anything about it?  No!  Of course not.  Why would you?  There are so many unanswered questions.  Who is this guy?  What country is this?  Is this a legitimate program?  What happens when she gets my money?  New shoes?  New shirt?  Will she use it for drugs, alcohol, or give it to her older brother who is fundraising for his gangster horde who buys arms from the old, white guy?  I’d much rather give this money to my church, or use it at a bake sale for my little cousin’s trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, or maybe I need to buy groceries.  That’s important right? 

Do you want a fantasy reference?  I don’t care if you don’t because here it is:  I keep thinking of those little hobbit guys living in the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books.  These people literally lived within five miles of themselves.  Their food, their clothes, their beer, entertainment, education, all of it could be found within a five mile radius of their homes.  Thos little creeps didn’t know a thing about the outside world and they were all happy as a clam, or I guess, clams.  Sure, we may be called to a global purpose at some point in our lives, but why are we so damn opinionated about things we aren’t even sure are actually happening?  Maybe it’s a little extreme, but it makes a whole heck of a lot of sense.
I’m reminded of another story.  This is it and then I’m done.  I promise.  But it’s a story about a boy who left home and traveled the world and came back an old man.  And when his family and friends asked him about his travels and what the cities were like, you found out that the old man had an extremely outdated view and described the cities as they were fifty years ago.  Imagine someone visiting America, then going back home and describing our culture today as it was in 1963.  Wrong! 
We do not live in a global community.  Maybe someday we will, but not today.  I’m all for being opinionated, but let’s discuss topics we actually know something about.  I’ve never seen war.  I’ve taken terrorism classes from a LTC who’s had many deployments.  I’m studying military science, been to basic, AIT, and LDAC so I may have a few opinions about the war and the United States army in general, but I honestly don’t give a rat’s tail about anything outside my immediate, day-to-day life.  And I think that’s alright.

Political Entertainment

We see entertainment everywhere from video games, cell phones, and even television. While watching many forms of media we have found that we relish entertainment so much so that it has consumed our lives. Before I get any deeper please watch this video of Sean Hannity having an argument with a guest on Fox News. This is not a bash on republicans by any means because this style of discourse and media can be found on every television station across the board. The argument really starts around 2:40. You see Hannity and his guest attacking each other. This is a news organization that does a lot of reports on politics. I wonder how this is even constructive. You cannot understand either of these men, let alone why they are arguing... and even then really what they are arguing about. All they do is attack each other. This sort of political entertainment cannot have a positive affect on our nation. I do not know if this is some sort of a diversionary tactic to keep people entertained but i feel as though it is childish. We have no place for two grown adults who are supposed to be debating for the good of the people in this nation.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Minds and Movies

This past week, I have been slaving over a paper for a film history class,  While this experience was not particularly enjoyable, it did bring a few questions to my mind (questioning being something I rather DO enjoy), and one of them, I've realized pertains to this class quite well, really.

Reading Postman's book throughout the past ten weeks or so, the main point I've taken from it (and I believe everyone else has as well) is that the form of media controls the content that it portrays.  One of the side points that he makes, however (I believe in the "Typographic America" chapter), is that the form can also have an effect on the way that people think.  He uses the example of the Lincoln debates, citing that each ranged from 4 to 7 hours, and that their audiences sat (presumably) patiently through the entire thing each time.  Now, I don't remember if he contrasts this with today's audience, or if that was a result of discussion in class, but the sad truth is, not many nowadays would show up for such a lengthy debate, and among those who did, many would probably not stay til the end.  I would attribute this to our have-it-now culture, one that allows us to purchase items at the click of a button and have them delivered to our homes the next day if we only pay an arm and a leg, one that gives us instant information also at the click of a button online, one that is loathe to give us any television programming over two hours when even the two hour programs are lacerated with blips of advertisement every five minutes.

Now, the prevailing opinion I've heard in class is that this switch is the result of moving from a print culture to a media culture.  They function differently, and our way of thinking changes to match that.  My question is: do you think this switch can occur within a single form of media?

Let me explain.  Have any of you ever watched any old films?  I don't mean films from the 90s either, I mean ones from the 30s, 40's 50's, etc.  They're a little more difficult to sit through than Die Hard, am I right?  Yet, these films are the same form of media as the movies that we pay obscene amounts of money to go see today.  We pay so much to see modern film, we must love it.  It must be incredibly entertaining.  Why do we not always feel the same about older cinema?  Is it the quality of the picture?  That certainly has changed.  Is it the CGI?  We certainly didn't have that in the early-mid 1900s.  Perhaps it is the very stories themselves.  Are they drastically different?

It seems to me that the change in structure of thinking has occurred within the form of film, not from a switch to another, in this case.  What do you all think, and why?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dead Men Can't Argue Back

Made a bit of a mistake in thinking my blog was due later so, sorry for not providing variety for people to respond to! On that note, I have no fun graphics, but I do have a question. Feel free to respond or not! It's a bit late when my senses kicked in and I checked the syllabus. When finding or realizing flaws and applause moments in the Postman book last Tuesday, it struck me that although Postman makes great points on how our society behaves today he is also clouded by his own opinion. Do you think that we are so amazed by his accurate predictions to not want to critique his work (because it can be difficult)? What problems do you find with his bias or even the age of the book? Does it make a difference that the book is so old? Should it make a difference? We'll get to it on Tuesday, but I wanted so feedback not on if Postman is wrong or right but if we considered the circumstances around the time this book was released.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Revealing your traits with a 'like'

by Tom Carreras

I came across an interesting study today (also reported here). Some researchers recently compiled a bunch of information from Facebook regarding people's 'likes' of things and threw them into an algorithm. They then were able to, with surprising accuracy, predict one's sexual orientation, IQ, religion, political affiliation, and other traits.

All of that from a few 'likes'?

This brings up the issue of online security - both the awareness people have as far as what their security settings are as well as how protective they really are. This is a discussion that seems like it will continue on for a decent amount of time.

Even more than that though, I was very intrigued by the fact that so much information was revealed from looking at some seemingly meaningless 'likes'.

What do you think? Can people discover who we are through 'likes'? Is internet security good enough, or does it need to be strengthened? Something else?