Monday, December 12, 2011

Edutainment: PORORO

It was interesting to see the last group's presentation about edutainment. As Melkote introduced at Theories of Development Communication, entertainment-education progrms are adapted as a tool for bringing social changes. The presentation also shows several examples with Mr. Pandarson's. Sesami Street maybe one of the most famous education show in the world. It was really interested that Sesami Street is used for AIDs/HIV education tool in Africa and it is great that they also offer the program embedding the local culture.

Likewise, Korea also has jumped into the edutianment industries. One of the most success program is 'Pororo'. This program is desinged targeting age between 1 to 5. It is so popular that most of single kids in Korea would know Pororo. Pororo is the name of main charater which is a blue penguin with glasses on. Kids do everything what Pororo says in the program. They admire the character. Pororo has a nickname 'Poresident'. 'Poresident (Po-tong-ryung in Korean) is a word combining Pororo and Presdient.

Pororo also earns a lot of money through its character. From snack, clothes, shoes, bag. Every products hit the success if they have Pororo character with. Parents also love Pororo because pororo is for their kids' education. It broadcasts every weekdays for 5 minutes. Pororo is a positive personality character. Pororo is a penguin which cannot fly but Pororo believes that he can fly someday. This is why this character always were the pilot cap and glasses on (with the red muffler which is a symbol of pilot!).

Pororo has exported to the world. Actually, when it was designed initially, it also targets the world. One of the reason why the characters are animals not people. The name was considered whether it has a negative meaning in different language. Actually, its first name was 'Poroporo' that was changed to Pororo after revealing Poroporo contains a negative image in French. It is interesting to see that all books Pororo reads are in English. Now Pororo is much more popular than Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh in Korea but not yet in the world.

Additionally, I have read an interesting news regarding the relationship between FTA and Pororo. Recently, the Korean parliament had a big argument on Pororo whether it is one of items that export to US through FTA or not. The reason is that part of Pororo has been produced in Gaesung Industrial region in North Korea. Gaesung Industrial region is the place where South Korean's products were manufactured in order to help North Korea recovering their poverty. Since US do not allow any products which was made in North Korea imported, Pororo is also considered as a ban item.

Pororo also related to a diaspora which we have studied in the beginning of this semester. Few weeks ago, I met a Korean friend who immigrate to US and gave a birth in US for her 2 year old daughter. 2 year old little girl was watching You Tube through I Pad and I was amazed that I heard a familiar song from I Pad. It was Pororo song. I was asking my friend how come your daughter see the Pororo and she told me every single Korea American kids are watching Pororo everyday through You Tube.

It is also interesting for seeing a discussion for Pororo contents. This is a dialogue from You Tube that describes cultural differences between US and Korea reflecting Pororo show.

"I understand that weight is a very taboo subject in the US. But in Korea (where Pororo was created), it is normal to talk about someone's appearance. When you have gained weight, you friends and family will tell you. People say it's out of concern for your health. I think the last thing we need to do in the US is sugar coat the fact that someone is overweight. We need to address this serious epidemic. It starts with children. Not making them "insecure" but showing them a healthy body image"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Recognizing the Need of 'The Other'

I'd like to build upon the brief mentioning of "Postcolonial Approaches to Communication" and Edward Said's Orientalism and perhaps extend it to the more recent discussions on public diplomacy and strategic communication.

As Said noted, there has been a historical recognition of the West as a colonial and postcolonial power, including in academic thought. This has created an unbalanced view of Eastern thought by both West and East alike. Up until very recently, strategic thinking involved putting the Western ideals at the forefront of economics, politics, communication, science and other fields. Only with Said's insight has their been existential pondering of how this thought process affects both Western and Eastern societies.

Perhaps one of the most thought-provoking notions Said delved into was the concept of 'the other'. This is something we have touched upon in class before, as we have discussed the dynamics of how international communication applies to global governance, marketing and other relevant topics. In these cases, it can oftentimes be advantageous to conceptualize one culture/group/nation etc dominant or superior to another for purposes of enriching nationalism. Said brings up the fascinating prospect that 'the other' is an absolutely necessary concept - that one culture/group/nation etc cannot be dominant if it doesn't have a lesser, oppressed other.

This seems to make logical sense, but how does this play into international relations, especially public diplomacy? Public diplomacy, in its most glossy definition, is about forging relationships with other countries and working towards strategic partnerships. How are Western countries supposed to engage in public diplomacy with Eastern partners when they are actively immersed in scholarship that has historically framed them as inferior?

This dated approach is changing as we speak. As of late, there have been some strategic moves made by the United States regarding Asian countries and their rising power. One of the earlier markers of this movement was President Obama's decision to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference in Hawaii in November to meet with leaders in the Pacific Islands. Then, Obama ramped up efforts to secure American presence in the South China Sea by deploying Marines to Australia. This was seen as a major warning signal to China. Finally, these events have been complimented in recent weeks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's historic visit to Myanmar(Burma) in a diplomatic effort to reach out not only to the national government but to reformists as well.

These individual steps are amounting to what could be seen as a new strategy in Asia that hasn't been attempted before. For the first time, the US is recognizing Asian powers as a threat to their own space on the global stage and, after years of ignoring diplomatic efforts as a whole, are now reaching out to remain on top.

When comparing this to Said's notions on 'the other' and Orientalism vs Western thought, we could see these events in two different lights. This could be seen as the US finally nodding to Eastern countries as a competitor and casting thoughts of them as 'the other' away. However, I tend to lean on the other, more interest-based thought that the US is reaching out diplomatically in Asia in order to keep the suppression of Eastern influence going. In the macro context of Western vs Eastern thought, these "nice on the face of it" acts by the US may be well received in Western countries (and Eastern countries as well, given the previous discussion of Western concepts of Eastern permeating Eastern countries' considerations of themselves), but it is actually a strategic way of ensuring Western dominates Eastern.

Because China has yet to react to the moves the US is making, it will be interesting to see if they retaliate by flexing their own muscles against Western influences or if they quietly operate their own diplomatic strategies throughout the region.

The Internet and terrorism

In Khatib’s “Communicating Islamic Fundamentalism as Global Citizenship” that we read over Thanksgiving, he talks about the importance of the internet as a tool of communication for fundamental Islamic networks. He includes Al-Naeda, Al-Qaeda, Shareeah, the Taliban and Hamas as examples. Obviously, we cannot make the mistake of labeling all Islamic fundamentalists terrorists. But there are some that are terrorist organizations and many of them use the internet as one of their most crucial tools.

The Council on Foreign Relations said the number of terrorist websites increased over the last decade, from 100 to 4800 in 2007. It’s quite obvious that as global access to the internet increases, terrorist organizations are much more likely to use the internet to spread propaganda. They use propaganda to raise money, recruit new members and raise morale among current members. The internet makes it so much easier to spread this propaganda and reach readers/viewers no matter where in the world they may be.

Propaganda often comes in the form of videos of roadside bombings and executions. CFR said that in Iraq, it’s not just terrorists that watch these videos…it’s often the general public. These videos are also often sold at video shops, kept behind the counter with pornography.

Terrorist websites also function as training manuals, teaching how to make bombs, sneak into Iraq from abroad and shoot at American soldiers. Yet another reason the internet works so well for terrorism organizations is that it’s relatively secret and anonymous. And the terrorist organizations are often excellent at encryption, making things even more anonymous.

One fact that truly proves the prevalence of terrorist organizations on the internet is that al-Qaeda has had a position called digital media director. Ali Hamza Ahmad Suleiman al-Bahlul served in that position previously, but he is currently serving a life sentence in Guantanamo.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Transparency of the Internet and Social Media

“Innovating Public Diplomacy for a New Digital World” by Jacob Comenetz looks at how the State Department has attempted to modernize its public diplomacy efforts by going digital. The article touches on several interesting ideas that we have already explored in class.

One part in particular that stood out was the discussion of doing away with the website. The reason given was simple. A website with static content assumed that curious people would visit the site. In reality, this is a world of information where people are constantly being bombarded with messages. Public diplomacy officers need to directly initiate conversations.  

Another idea that Comenetz raised is the discrepancy between the open messages on sites like Twitter and the subtlety necessary for international relations.  He quotes Clay Shirky about the problem of not being able to say the same thing to every audience. As we saw in the presentation on Global Movie Successes, the same cultural values do not resonate across the globe. The State Department could find itself in some sticky situations if public diplomacy officers are tweeting about ongoing controversial events.

Evgeny Morozov is another cautionary voice in the article. He is correct to warn that technology and social media should be exclusively thought of as forces of democracy. Social media are just as accessible to authoritarian regimes as they are to activists. Mexico is just one example of a country where social media are being used to suppress activism. Mexican citizens are being targeted by their government and drug gangs because of their online communication.

Comenetz also quotes Morozov as saying, “Clinton went wrong from the outset by violating the first rule of promoting Internet freedom: Don't talk about promoting Internet freedom.” I’m not exactly sure where he is going with this. The U.S. shouldn’t have to be shy about promoting Internet freedom. They are open about promoting values such as freedom of speech and democracy. Those values may not be agreeable with other cultures. But they are American values, and so America promotes them. Internet freedom is crucial for both freedom of speech and democracy, and therefore should fall into that category.

Social media can be anti-democratic. But so can any medium, really. Radio, television, and newspapers have all been used to promote things like racism. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use or trust them. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk about how to use or govern them. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Diplomacy Paradigm Shift to Public Diplomacy

As Joseph Nye pointed out projecting soft power for promoting positive images of one's country has been more than attracting countries to be democracies after the cold war. Actually, with the victorious success in US for last decade, almost half of state-nations adopt the democracy now. Along with emergence of new power such as BRICs, EUs, ASEAN so on, the world paradigm has been changed to multi-lateral power. This also illustrates that the power of public has been increased. In order to pursuit the foreign diplomacy to other nations, it is needed to be friendly to its national leaders as well as its publics. This tells why the new diplomacy paradigm named "public diplomacy" is required.

Korea has been developed its economy for last half-centuries and Korea reached to the 12th by purchansing Power Parity (PPP) and 15th by nominal GDP in the world. Now, Korea is seeking its way to be an active actor in the global politics. Korea hosted G20 summit in 2011 and be a member of DAC in OECD in 2010. Fortunately, the Korean culture also has been welcomed to the world. Especially to those countries in Asian region.

In the middle of the Korea's public diplomacy, the Korean Foundation ( actively held events that introduce its culture. Korea Foundation also provide a section named "Public Diplomacy." Mainly, it supports Korean research and studies overseas. For instance, KF funds to bilateral forum helding in overseas. One thing interesting here is that KF value the NGOs which actively involved in the diplomacy field. This is significant change because the Korean government has been so powerful and Korea has been top-down based operated country. To acknowledge NGOs in Korea is related to Joseph Nye's words that in transinational period, there is a borad range of alternatives such as NGOs, media, corportation, and so on. It is relatively short that Korea has been stepped into public diplomacy field comparing to China and Japan. China's Confucious Institute and Japan's Cultural diplomacy with its Manga and Animation are evaluated as good examples of public diplomacy.

The diplomacy has been extended from reaching to the leaders to reaching to the nation's public. As Joseph Nye said, role of credibility, self-criticism, and the role of civil society generating soft power as well as smart power in public diplomacy area.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanks giving in US: non-western communication table.

I had a very special thanks giving in US. I was invited a nice American friend who got married to a guy from Syria. She also invited a girl from Norway as well. My other Chinese friend was also invited but he could not join us. So, people from US, Asia, Middle East and Europe joined a Thanksgiving dinner together. What a nice combination we are! It is memorable experience of Thanksgiving thinking back for the first start of the holiday. It was for sharing appreciation for friendship between Native American and European Americans who were changed from foe to friends.

Before dinner, interestingly, I watched Al Jajeera in the living area. With a little bit of shame as a student studying global communication, it was my first time to watch the Al Jajeera. When I heard about Middle East region is mostly about the regional conflicts, terrorism, sexual inequality which are related to negative news. So when I saw the Al Jajeera news first in their home, I was amazed how news quality is high with well orgnized new stories. I was, again, ashamed myself for ignorance of Middle East.

During having dinner, we talk about Middle East region and at that time, I was read articles related to the Arab Spring so, I asked many questions to him. How is Syria, is it dangerous place to leave and so on. He answers that it is not a wealth country but people there are so friendly and nice. Even though Syria is dangerous now due to civil uprising and autocrat government's violent reaction, it is where people live. Every one wants live happily. It is shame to see that Western media mainly deal a negative story about middle east. He added that is why he likes to watch the Al Jajeera.

A girl from Norway who is brave enough to plan staying a conflict zone in Middle East after finishing her master degree in AU. She has been Middle East area so many time and her plan is to be a conflict resolution negotiator as a Middle East region expert. She found out Middle East was attractive. People there are friendly and nice to her. (Even though she is from Norway, her mother is an adopted Korean to Norway so she much looks like Asian.)

Listening to their perspectives and experiences in Middle East, I realized how much my world view has focused on Western nations. Actually, I was trying to avoid the cultural bais and be a neutral to every culture but I realized that night that I am not. I would like to blame the Korean media which use the Western media sources mostly but I could not. Because it is also my responsiblity to have interested in a various perspectives in the world and seek information from a various sources which available in internet.

It was interesting US thanksgiving dinner time that allows me to review the world with more open mind.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A World of Negative International Reporting

Much is wrong in the realm of international reporting. We have the dropping number of international correspondents, general disinterest in foreign affairs and widespread interference of special interests in reporting accurately about international topics. It seems like international stories just aren't as important.

However, there is more (to use a bit of a play on words) bad news...the over-arching theme in existing international reporting is most often framed in a negative light.

Hafez is our champion of this - our bearer of bad news, if you will. He asserts what is called the "conflict perspective" in international reporting. Essentially, Hafez utilizes the Foreign News study and MacBride Report to bring statistical validity to the notion that news coverage of international topics is overwhelmingly negative and insulates a consistent image of a "chaotic, distant foreign world".

These sentiments are echoed in the other readings as well. The Powers and El-Nawawy article highlighting the efforts of Al-Jazeera English as a uniting media force in the Middle East and elsewhere seems to also take their findings with a grain of salt. They note that although those who watch Al-Jazeera eventually gain a more well-rounded perspective and will eventually make more open-minded decisions, seeing these results happen are very far off.

A look at any news network will further support Hafez's findings. The top international stories from the BBC, CNN and GlobalPost are all about Western sanctions on Iran, the resignation of the Cabinet in Egypt and Chinese ships infiltrating the South China Sea.

These are prime examples because they demonstrate many of the notions discussed in our readings. First, they represent international topics that are all tied back to political or economic interests of superpowers, which gives these topics precedent over other, perhaps softer news topics around the world. Second, this supports the former notions of Steven Livingston, who surmised that post-Cold War world would emerge as a "clash of civilizations," particularly between the Western and Islamic regions. All of these stories demonstrate geo-regional powers flexing their muscles on a global scale, two of the three involving the Islamic region.

I think it is unfortunate that international reporting must be this way. I feel like there is a lot of writing out there that focuses upon culturally stimulating and very educational aspects of different countries, even those that the U.S. may be in opposition with. If journalism is really supposed to be the fourth estate and serve as an intermediary between states to communicate objectively and accurately in the best fashion possible, then there is sadly work to be done.

I would agree with the notion that there needs to be some cultural tweaking from region to region as reporting needs to adhere to the norms of certain societies, but I feel like there is a way to express opposing views without using hot-button language, sensational stories and letting only the most extreme talking heads on air. What is needed is intellectual, level-headed discourse media that examines international topics of all kinds, not just conflict, and that takes into full account the special interests of all parties involved: states, people and the media organizations themselves.

Now that's fair and balanced, isn't it?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rebirth of Public Diplomacy after 9/11

We’ve spent a lot of time recently, especially after attending the conference at GW, discussing public diplomacy. We read in Hanson’s chapter about “War and Peace in the Information Age” about how public diplomacy first became important during the Cold War. It was a war of ideas, battling the basic tenets of communism. Public diplomacy became an extremely important part of U.S. foreign policy for the first time. After the Cold War though, public diplomacy was somewhat abandoned. Cultural centers closed and the U.S. government seemed to think that since we were the “super-power” of the world that either everyone liked us, or it just didn’t matter.

9/11 quickly proved that was disillusioned thinking.  The US realized that maybe we weren’t as loved by all as we had assumed. And public diplomacy did once again become a much more important part of US foreign policy. Some actions seemed to work like Radio Sawa, a radio station aimed towards Arabic speaking youth in the Middle East. They mix popular music with news from an American viewpoint. Although it is a public diplomacy effort, the website says it is “committed to the highest standards of journalism.” I think it’s a little conflicting for something to be considered a public diplomacy effort and journalism. 

Another effort that wasn’t as successful was the Office of Strategic Influence in the Pentagon. They had plans to plant news items in the media in foreign countries and even considered planting false news to put the US in a better light. When information about these plans leaked, the office closed within four months. The New York Times reported at the time that it was hard to get information about this fairly secretive office. The Times did report on what critics of the office said though. One of the main criticisms was that if news was planted for Reuters or a similar news agency, then news could make it’s way back to the U.S. very easily. And by law, the Pentagon and CIA are not allowed to engage in propaganda in the U.S.

Many were not satisfied with the supposedly amped-up efforts and the Council on Foreign Relations put together a task force made up of former ambassadors, academics, global business leaders, representatives from global NGOs and representatives from international think tanks. They released recommendations that are really interesting, even though many of them never took effect.

First they overall, just wanted to make public diplomacy a more crucial part of U.S. foreign policy, predominantly by placing more attention on leadership within public diplomacy. They also wanted to enhance training for ambassadors and build congressional support for public diplomacy.

The most interesting aspects of the proposal included partnerships with the private and non-profit sectors. They really wanted to create a Corporation for Public Diplomacy, modeled after the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This organization would work on private funding and help foster new, creative ideas for public diplomacy from the private sector. They wanted to reach out to foreign media, which is also something that probably would have been more effective if done by NGOs already working in the area.

For the most part, the extension of public diplomacy didn’t spread to the non-profit or private sectors, like CFR’s task force recommended. And that’s not too surprising. The U.S. government, like many other governments and international organizations like the UN are reluctant to allow the private sector in, but I think it could have been helpful public diplomacy in the post-9/11 days.

Truth Bombs: an information war

In “Spinning the War: Political Communications, Information Operations, and Public Diplomacy in the War on Terrorism”, Robin Brown writes about using the language of war in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many of his points relate to the Frontline film we watched in class, “War of Ideas.” The film talked about the rise of Arab journalism and the United States’ attempt to get its message in those outlets.

“War of Ideas” showed the initial reluctance, refusal even, to show Al Jazeera English in America. As pointed out in the film, airing ideas from Al Jazeera would not harm Americans and could actually teach them something.

Why did it take the U.S. so long to figure this out? I think the answer lies in the mentality of war. It’s natural to reject Al Jazeera when they are seen as an enemy. The phrase “war of ideas” is a dangerous one. Suddenly ideas from the other side seem dangerous, when in reality they are just different. As discussed in class, language and framing are so important to public diplomacy. Brown discusses the damage control done by Ari Fleischer to after the “war on terrorism” became conflated with a “war on Islam.” I am not sure this confusion would have occurred if the U.S. had used what Brown described as the law-enforcement response. Instead, they went with the framing of war. They did the same with the war of ideas.

But looking at public diplomacy from the point of view of a soldier fighting a war means only getting half of the job done. The first half encompasses speaking your message and making sure that it’s heard. The second half, the one that is so often overlooked, is listening to what the other side has to say. There is a fine line between believing your ideas are the best and refusing to even hear any other ideas. What kind of message does it send when the U.S. government broadcasts Alhurra in the Middle East but won’t allow al-Jazeera in America? Such one-sided communication does nothing to help the U.S.’s reputation.

I think the U.S. is moving slowly but surely in the right direction. The country is giving public diplomacy more attention because it has to. Hopefully these efforts take public diplomacy further away from the mentality of war.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Castell's Mobile Case Study: No Sa Mo in Korea - two sides of Mobile civil society

It was interesting that Castell introduces one of case studies on mobile civil society referring to Nosamo in Korea. As Castell explains, Nosamo is acronym for "No"moohyun "Sa"rang "M"oim: which means the group of people who loves Mr. Moohyun Noh (the former Korean president). When he was elected as the president in Korea in 2002, every single Koreans were surprised since majority of Koreans did not anticipate that he would actually be elected as a president of Korea.
As Castell introduced in his article, it can be said that president Noh was truly elected by mobile civil society who were 20s or 30s years old and who want to change their government. The democracy in Korea was recently formed until late 1990s, Korea cannot say democracy is embedded transparently in the society before then. Government even manipulated the election. Korea had a really strong government (we have a very unique nickname of "MOFIA" for politicians who used work at the Ministry of Finance (MOF) because they have tremendous power in politics). The government planned and controlled over the Korea under the name of "development." Koreans were forced to be pro-government and Koreans need to follow its government because economic develop was needed for recovering the nation from the Korean war as well as Korea is in the war against North Korea.
As consequence, young Koreans used not to pay that much attentions to politics because they know that they cannot change the government. When president Noh was in presidential election, however, young Koreans see some hope that they can change the nation using "mobile" with major role of Nosamo. Through mobile, young people exchange their information how good Mr. Noh is as a president and they encourage their peers to vote for him. And President Noh has elected as a president. Young people were enthusiastic to see how he will change the country. However, he failed to response to young people because the Korean political ground is too harsh for him to make a decision.
Whenever president Noh tried to do something, the congress do not pass it and they also make a lot of criticism on him. At last they attempted to drag him down from a president using the parliament system law. And young people disappointed to president Noh. Following president Noh, the person from the major Party (which against President Noh was elected). After complete his presidency period, notorious rumors were followed after him. His families were suspected of bribery. Ironically, this rumor was transmitted through mobile and President Noh has suffered a lot from this. At last, he chose to kill himself in order to improve that he is innocent to people.
Mobile can help president Noh to be elected as a president but it also played a significant role make him to be suffered and choose to be suicide.

Can A Decentralized Global Justice Movement Work?

Jeffrey Juris' article "Networked Social Movements: Global Movements for Global Justice" brings up a theme we've discussed in class on multiple occasions: decentralization. In his argument, Juris describes social movements of the modern day as reliant upon information communication technologies (ICTs) to effectively rally activists around the world for one particular cause. Juris notes that these transnational advocacy networks (which he actually refers to as global justice movements) have been revolutionary in the way connections are bridged via network-based technologies like list-servs, social sites and wiki-type open source software.

The crux of transnational activism, according to Juris, is that using networks decentralizes the process, yet communicates the message over a farther distance to a greater number of people, resulting in mass worldwide protests like the one against the World Trade Organization in 1999 in Seattle and subsequent anti-corporate protests, many of which take place at the same time as major economic forums or summits to gain more attention.

Juris cites many protests in the early Millennium, but perhaps the most current and (to be honest) blatant example of a worldwide anti-corporate global justice movement would be more fitting. I wonder what that could be? Oh, that's right. That whole Occupy thing.

Occupy is everywhere nowadays, with protests in nearly all US cities and many more across the globe including Rome, Brisbane, Paris and Cape Town. It seems to follow Juris' notion of a decentralized movement, gaining steam through networks of like-minded citizens around the world working together in a horizontal and autonomous fashion where there is no clear authority figure, just a "power of the people" so to speak. For some fascinating news on how this is happening in real time, check out an article about how Occupy is starting the Free Network Foundation to provide decentralize peer-to-peer Internet for the movement.

It all sounds idyllic, right? Concerned activists around the world join forces of their own volition and create a united front against global corporate control. Well, I'm afraid the success of the Occupy movement, or of any decentralized movement, will depend upon its ability to change from a decentralized state to a more organized, identifiable state.

I'll invoke the early sociological work of Herbert Blumer, who first identified the four stages of social movements: Emergence, Coalescence, Bureaucratization and Decline. If we look at the Occupy movement, we can see that it is somewhere between Emergence and Coalescence. In Emergence, there is no defined leadership of a movement and there are no clear goals, simply a rising sense of unrest. In Coalescence the movement begins occurring on a mass scale as more realize they are unhappy. However, in this stage there are some critical transformations, such as the election or appointment of leadership throughout the movement as well as a refining of what exact goals the movement is attempting to attain and exactly what targets they should be protesting against.

These are steps the Occupy movement hasn't reached, and according to Blumer many movements do not fully complete Coalescence before they fizzle out. I can make an inference and say that if the Occupy movement does not alter its decentralized global justice popularity and turn it into something more tangible it may suffer the consequences.

I understand what Juris is saying. It is very revolutionary that ICTs allow transnational networks to form and enabled globally united groups of people. However, I think when the information and communication processes speed up, the time we expect action and progress does as well. Is it really possible in the month or so the Occupy movement has really picked up steam that they could change their tactics enough to get all of its rabble-rousers to agree on points of change as well as leaders before the media fire dies? Will the decentralized nature of the Occupy movement even be able to change, as its supporters note its network approach to be one of its best traits?

I look forward to watching further coverage to see if Occupy goes by the wayside or puts on a different hat in order to stay afloat.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

News through Networks

Transnational Advocacy Networks (TANs) are an emerging power in the global scene. Increasingly non-state actors are taking on some of the roles that originally belonged to the nation-state. We read about TANs this week in Aday and Livingstone’s piece, “Taking the state out of state-media relations theory.” Aday and Livingstone write of the way journalism that relies entirely on the nation-state as a source is incomplete. Because of the beat system and the amount of news that comes from government officials, the news the public actually receives can be limited.
            TANs are groups made up of NGOs, international organizations, governments and individuals that communicate and exchange info with a common goal. When journalists cannot get the facts on stories from traditional government sources, TANS can prove to be a good source. Aday and Livingstone say that TANs often produce information and the news media can distribute it. Together, “transnational advocacy networks and the global media serve as vibrant alternative sources of information and news frames” (Aday and Livingstone).
            Two very different news stories I’ve been following for different reasons are excellent examples of this. First, I’ve working on a project for a class, about the lack of media coverage on the famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. Because there is so little traditional media coverage of the ongoing problem, I have been turning to other sources for information. I’ve used the few stories in the media I have found to figure out which NGOs are actively involved in the cause. Then, I’ve gone to their websites, where many of them have produced their own content, posted press releases or linked to other news stories. On CAREInternational’s Kenyan office’s site, I found many articles and press releases written by their staff and on Mercy Corps’s website, I found a video produced by one of their employees. International organizations like UNICEF are also a source. UNICEF has an entire tab on their homepage dedicated to videos, photos and articles on the famine. These sources (media, NGOs, international orgs) all make up a large TAN focused on famine in eastern Africa.
            I’ve also been interested in the floods in the Cinque Terre, Italy, simply because it’s my favorite place in the world and I care what happens there. There were a few bare-bones stories in the traditional media, but not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity. I was devastated to learn that these gorgeous, authentic villages filled with amazing people had been so damaged and I wanted to find out which parts of town, restaurants, beaches and hiking trails had been destroyed. And although I don’t know anyone currently living there, it’s obviously heart-breaking that a dozen people in the region have died or a re missing. I found information through businesses, like Rick Steves Travel. He is often credited with “discovering” Cinque as a tourist destination and he kept his website up-to-date with the events happening in Cinque. I also used individual accounts, like the blogs of American expats, Nicole and Kate, living in Cinque and videosuploaded by tourists to YouTube. And I found a newly formed NGO, Save Vernazza, that’s goal is to raise money for reconstruction and their site is full of photos and updates. All of these groups, organizations and individuals link to each other online and form a network for the disaster in Cinque.
One of my favorite photos of Vernazza in Cinque Terre

            In both cases, I started my research in traditional media, but ended up finding everything I was looking for in TANs. 

Viral Marketing and Kids

Group 3’s presentation on viral marketing was an interesting look at the “non-traditional” ways in which advertising messages are spread. I am somewhat skeptical of the term “stealth marketing” since most of it is not actually that stealthy. Most commercials and billboards don’t have disclaimers saying “this is an ad,” but we can figure it out. The same goes for product placement in television shows, films, and video games. The NBC sitcom 30 Rock often makes fun of what are usually not-so-subtle ads within the media.

But it is certainly true that marketing methods have become more sophisticated. They are always looking to target more specific network. One of the points discussed in class was reasons for why children are targeted. Prof. Hayden mentioned that although kids aren’t making many purchases while they’re young, they can still develop loyalty to a brand that sticks for life. I think an additional reason that was not touched on is children’s desire to fit in with their peers. Most commonly associated with adolescence, this desire seems to begin as early as elementary school and last through college. As a kid when I came home from school, I was constantly telling my mom about the snack everyone else was eating and the sneakers they all had. I might have never been attracted to those products on my own, but suddenly I needed them.

Kids are important advertising targets because word-of-mouth and opinion leadership techniques are wildly successful in their networks. Whereas an adult might observe some friends wearing a Northface jacket and consider buying one, a child would simply have to have it. These network clusters are jam-packed with marketing influence. And now these networks are becoming larger and even more-interconnected as more and more children use smartphones and social media.

The members of Group 3 also pointed out that despite concerns about the ethics of such viral marketing campaigns aimed at children, there has yet to be any real response from the Federal Trade Commission. Will giant corporations continue to have free reign in their marketing campaigns? I believe that they will, at least in the United States, where concerns about privacy are less important than economic success.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Coverage Differences between Japan and South Korean Media

While I was reading The symbolic power of transnational media of Chouliaraki, it reminds me of the article that comparing the differences in the way how statelite news portrays between Korea and Japan when the Tsunami insident happened in Japan in 2011. In terms of symbolic power of media, it is significantly influensive to its audience. While Chouliaraki comparing the views from western transnational media influence, I would like to examine how different it was to transmit the crisis news to the public accordiance to cultural differences.

Emotion vs. Facts
The Korean broadcasting news showed the video that evoke people's emotion. For instance, a Japanese that cries in the village into ruins due to the tsunami. Most of the news contents were also emotionally expressive rather than showing the facts. When an anouncer conveyed the news, the anouncer says "Tsunami completely devasted Japan" rather than "Tsunami devasted Japan." or describing the Tsunami as to "a total deadlock." Comparing to this, Japanese media showed the scene focusing the whole rather than individuals' loss. They keep transmitting the people maintaining public order even when the crisis happened. The media rarely use the extreme expression for describing the incidents. Japanese news televised how damage they got and what is the governments' response on the crisis trying to air the facts on the incident.

Cultural Differences
This differece would mainly due to the cultural differences as well as the degree of broadcasting autonomousy. While south Koreans focus more on emotions comparing to Japanese who tend to reveal their emotions. Interestingly, most Korean media has adopted to the Japanese media system for last decades. Korean newspapers even use the Japanese words like urakia and nawabari for their broadcasting terminology. However, in terms of dealing with the contents as well as broadcasting it is different as we can see the example above.

The Korean media coverage brought Koreans to donate tremendous amount of money and suppliers of emergence aid to Japan. Koreans emotionally felt pity on what happened in Japan and spontaneously started to fundraise for Japan. However, Koreans get angered when Japan brought the delicated and complex territorial conflict issue between Japan and Korea and Japan insisted that is belonged to Japan. Koreans were even get angrier because it was right after Koreans donated and fundraised for Japan and Koreans expected that Japan would be appreciated to Korean and be friendly to the terrotorial issue in the response to the Korean "hospitalities." Japan, however, regards those matters are completly different.

Engagement to Governments
How much the broadcasting companies are engaged to the government is the other aspects that result the different news between Korean and Japanese broadcasting. According to Kim Yongho who researched on the differences on Japanese and South Korean media coverage of foreign and security affairs, the autonomousy of the Japanese media is much stronger than Korean media. Kim reveals that the ratio of parliamentary members who were journalists is much greater in South Korea and this illustrates the tight relationship between government and media in Korea comparing the Japanese.

New Media Technology: A Help or Hindrance?

Media technologies that utilize network theory to become successful gain a network power or authority. Forget everything you read in my last post about the role of the individual in these technologies, this time we're talking about the powerhouse organizations themselves and what they can have influence over.

Sangeet Kumar gave a fantastic example of this in his article about Google Earth. To briefly summarize his work, he asserts that Google's international use of its Maps and Earth features have had heavy hands in international conflicts, serving as a tool of warfare in both India and Israel-Palestine. The 2008 bombings in Mumbai were strategically placed with the help of these Google tools, according to an article in The Telegraph. And we thought it was worrisome that Google may be peeping on us in the shower (although that has its fair share of concern too). This is on another level entirely.

While reading this piece I cannot help but think back to the Public Diplomacy Forum at George Washington University that our class attended. In particular, I recall hearing former Foreign Service Officers in Bahrain and Iraq speaking of media technologies and their use in these still hostile areas. These workers operated Facebook pages that became vital sources of information for locals, who could then interact with one another. However, they could not control the arguments and slurs that would eventually develop between parties and were displayed publicly for all to see. Even if the embassies did decide to exercise their power to remove certain rabble-rousers, what is to stop more from flooding in?

I think these two instances are connected in that Google and Facebook are what could be considered new, supra-national entities that sometimes can function like another form of nation-state, as Kumar notes. These technologies can pull significant and self-sustaining profits, organize a digitally connected citizenry and employ the ability to spur political debate and certainly seems like a recipe for its own nation. This becomes troublesome because these "nation-states" are governed under the principles of business, not democracy or any other system we've discussed in a sixth-grade civics course. Regulation of these bodies is becoming less and less rigid, especially when governments themselves are relying upon these technologies to do international outreach and development. I can recall the conference mentioning the use of everything from iPads to mobile devices to spread diplomacy around the world.

As these technologies become the bread and butter of connecting our world, are we even going to think of regulating it?

I hate to ruminate on this positively, but I think there is something to be said when a nation-state does reaffirm its authority over some of these supra-national technologies, if anything to keep them from monopolizing. China has opted out of using Google. Yes, China is poor example because of its restrictive media policies and government authoritarianism, but regardless, it is a state exercising power over a supra-national entity, which I think is important to note. This struggle is more evident in the Kumar article. He mentions a host of countries that protested the invasion of Google's satellites and cameras into their cities. Not too long ago, Germany opted out of Google Maps for pure privacy reasons, with many other countries thinking the same way.

I think it will be interesting to see where this power struggle will head. As these technologies become more important and even alluded to as nation-states in their own right, I'd like to see how sovereign states respond. It is very much a conflict of interest because these corporations are so widely used and are quite useful, but with these high rewards come high costs. You can't censor a street map for a terrorist and un-censor it for a traveling couple. In this all-or-nothing battle, there truly is not clear winner as of yet.

Social Media in Public Diplomacy

This week’s Public Diplomacy conference at GW, The Last Three Feet, was a really interesting way to consider some of the theories and methods we have been discussing in class. One thing that was mentioned over and over was diplomacy as an act of understanding. Many of the panelists and Thomas Shannon, the ambassador to Brazil, said diplomacy is not just about talking and emoting communication. They said it’s also about receiving communication, which means hearing, listening and responding.

I was surprised by how much the talk revolved around social networking as an official Public Diplomacy method. Obviously the internet and new media have become an important tool for anyone in any sort of communications role, such as someone in public diplomacy. But I was surprised to find how much they used Facebook and Twitter on an extremely regular basis. They also had a few small, but detailed and creative ideas to make social networking more personal. Aaron Snipes, the Deputy Director for the press and Public Diplomacy and Spokesperson for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said that when he and his team posted things on their Facebook page, they would always sign it as “Facebook team.” It made people feel like they were communicating with a real person instead of a nameless, faceless government actor. Some other innovative ideas included Apps4Africa and the use of Facebook and Twitter in China even though it’s blocked.

There was actually less focus on traditional Public Diplomacy tactics. It was all about the hypable and exciting ideas. The @American storefront in Indonesia that Dr. Michael Anderson spoke about is something very innovative and easy to promote, whether it works or not. The same applies to the Youth Filmmaker program in Turkey. While it was great to hear about these innovative ideas, there was little to no mention of what else fills the days of a Foreign Service officer in Public Diplomacy… because I can hardly imagine they spend the entire day on Facebook! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Public Diplomacy and Noopolitik

The panelists at the Public Diplomacy Council event spoke about their initiatives with new media. The diversity of countries represented was impressive, although most of the speakers seemed to be tied to the U.S. State Department. Their comments were interesting in regards to Arquilla Ronfeldt’s essay on the noopolitik. Noopolitik, as Ronfeldt describes, “requires governments to learn to work conjointly with civil-society NGOs that are engaged in building transnational networks and coaltions.” The panelists on Thursday did not mention any work with local NGOs in their countries of assignment. Instead, they praised partnerships with the private sector. For example, Dr. Michael Anderson spoke about @america’s use of Google Liquid Galaxy technology in Jakarta, Indonesia.  

A lot of what diplomats and foreign service officers do comes down to funding, which many of the panelists acknowledged. Therefore, it makes sense for them to seek partnerships with wealthy corporations like Google. But global, although it does business on a global scale, is really an American corporation. Its values are 100 percent American. They have often run into trouble when expanding their efforts overseas. An idea that gets rave reviews in the U.S. might not always go over well on the other side of the world. When a friend of mine first showed me Google Earth, my reaction was “That’s awesome.” But as Sangeet Kumar recounts in “Google Earth and the nation state,” many countries had serious problems with the invasive technology. I wonder how these nation states will react to Google Liquid Galaxy, which is the basically the same thing, only cooler (or more dangerous, depending on your point of view).

Much of what the panelists said reflected the utopianism associated with social media. There are many benefits to engaging in dialogue on Facebook or on Twitter including real-time communication and interactivity. But technology does not solve all the world’s problems. In my opinion, technology reflects some of the worst stereotypes about Americans. We are wealthy, greedy, and terribly materialistic. In addition, not everyone has embraced social media or even the Internet as much as Americans have. Successful public diplomacy depends on the kind of work that Walter Douglas spoke about in Pakistan. Understanding is key. His team analyzed Urdu conversations happening in the most popular medium in Pakistan – television.

It seems that diplomacy gets underway with a government-mandated agenda. If the government wants the embassy to tweet, that’s what the embassy will do. But I think that more attention should be given to the kind of work that Douglas does. What works for Americans is not always best. Diplomats should adapt to the culture around them and also collaborate with other actors like global NGOs. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Multiple Brands of the 'Networked' Self

I have a LinkedIn profile. I have a Facebook profile. I have a Twitter profile. I have a Google Plus profile. I have an e-mail address.

It's hard to manage all those Corey Allan Smiths running around out there in cyberspace. Creating and maintaining profiles on social or professional networks is a time consuming process, especially when you have to think about your audience, which can vary from profile to profile.

This is where our course discussion on network theory comes heavily into play. Why do we create multiple profiles of ourselves online as opposed to just one? As Manuel Castells iterated, increasingly our social livelihoods are dependent upon the connections we forge with others through networks, or an interconnected system of nodes having some form of relationship. Many of us belong to layer upon layer of networks like family, friends, work colleagues, those within our career field, age range, hobbies and interests or other defining social characteristics.

So, we need profiles to fit each one of these trajectories, right?

LinkedIn is purely about self-branding and is used as a virtual resume where any potential employer can view your career or educational background. Hence the reason career networking is so popular for this website. The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect with your colleagues so you can see who else is in your network that may be of use to you. We admire those with hundreds of LinkedIn connections because they appear to have more influence, depending upon their field. I know that I have a few people I am connected to on LinkedIn that have led me to other organizations and work contacts that I never knew would have had any relation to each other.

Facebook has less of a push to connect with others, but chooses to focus on interacting with others using their interface. Facebook is more socially acceptable, as it enables the user to integrate with photos, video, text, games and other interactive features. The networking that comes out of this is more of a way to maintain already forged relationships in a new, online environment.

Twitter seems to be the least networked, as many project their tweets into the twitter-sphere where they may just float in existence forever, but it is still a way of networking. The use of Twitter as an aggregate of information allows the user to network by searching topics that are trending or by hashtags, thereby connecting them to others within their network surrounding a particular notion. Response and feedback from others is also welcomed warmly on Twitter with the use of the @ symbol.

Google Plus is attempting to make a stab at being the champion of all of these socially-based networks. With a Google Plus account, one can manage their various network memberships and tailor their appearance to the various users that interact with their profile. In this singular profile, a user can present a potential employer with a comprehensive, professional looking type of account that does not detail their summer vacation in Europe whereas a close friend may be privy to such information and more.

What is the point of balancing all of these networks? They are all online projections of self, and, no matter if you use a social network for putting up pictures of your cat or are displaying all of your career work, you are self-branding to any others in your network that have access to you. As Castells pointed out, being at a certain level of involvement within a network enables power and influence within that network - either if you began the network or if you are a gatekeeper and are a moderator of the norms within that network, you are given authority.

To that end, perhaps that is why we seek to have many Facebook friends, link to tons of connections on LinkedIn and follow ten million others on Twitter - because quantity can sometimes translate into authoritative power and reverence from others. I would like to explore how these topics are transnational in that networks know no national boundaries, especially when they form in an online environment, but would welcome any practical examples as well.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Power of Networking in Network Space

In 2008, there was a map posting of "World Map of Online Community" which was quite interesting that the cyber space has been virtually created. Networking has been tremendously increased through the social networking system not even in the nations but all over the land.

Network power has been emerged to the cyber space. The new terminology 'Power Twitterian' has been used among netizens. Power Twitterian is the one who have many followers and actually affect to followers when they talk about policies or politics.

For example, in Korea, a liberal professor who gets a lot of respects from young people has 160,000 followers. After the news that US passed the FTA agreement between Korea and US. He negatively mentioned FTA effect to Korea. He recommended followers to see the cartoon that describe how bad effects the FTA agreement will bring to Korea. The cartoon explains the FTA concepts by using the football example. For instance, Negative List article which without mentioning on the agreement treat, it should be open to each other is explained the Korean soccer team should decided where they can defense before the game starts. The place where they did not assigned to be defensed, it cannot be defensed.

Since the professor is regarded as one of the smartest intellectual in Korea, what he said is regarded as the representative of what is right. Actually, many young Koreans who read this cartoon, they are against the FTA agreement with US.

Last month, there was an election for Mayor in Seoul. The interesting thing is that the election
concluded with the winner who won the Twits. One of the newspapers in Korea examined that the new mayor won the competition of 'Re-Twit'. This shows the other aspect of the networking power. Networking with citizens through Social network. The picture shown by Twitter were pararell to the outcomes of election. The green line became the mayor.
This brings the significant changes in politics. The politics are becoming to depend more on online networking rather than the political parties anymore.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Complacent Reynolds and the Art of Meme-making

I have the unfortunate distinction of being a Baltimore Orioles fan. Last summer, one of our players, Mark Reynolds, became the subject of an Internet meme that got a lot of attention in the baseball world. The Orioles were playing the Red Sox, and David Ortiz had just hit a homerun. A photo from the game showed Ortiz rounding the bases while Reynolds nonchalantly munched on some sunflower seeds in the background. The image became known as “Complacent Reynolds.” Fans began photoshopping the image into other famous photographs such as Tiananmen Square and the VJ-Day kiss in Times Square. One of my favorites is below. It was one of the few things an O’s fan could laugh at.

Uploaded by Birds of B'more
In class this week, Prof. Hayden asked us to consider the process of creating a meme. Questions to be asked include “who is the intended audience” and “what is the objective.” To answer these questions, I began thinking about the Complacent Reynolds meme. At first, I thought it was geared toward baseball fans. But now I realize that it can resonate with an extremely wide audience. It doesn’t take a profound knowledge of baseball, or any sport for that matter, to find humor in a guy complacently eating sunflower seeds instead of paying attention to his job. Obviously, the most successful memes are the ones that appeal to the widest audiences. They should be simple and relatable, like Complacent Reynolds.

This meme was also successful because of its interactivity. Whereas some funny photos and videos are just meant to be passed along, Complacent Reynolds thrived on creativity. People were encouraged to create their own takes on the meme. Many people posted their original versions to an online forum for Orioles fans. The objectives of this meme were to make people laugh and to inspire them to participate. The meme accomplished those goals well.

Another question addressed in class was how to “drop” the meme into a network. This is where I believe the Complacent Reynolds meme fell short of its potential. Although the meme’s content could appeal to just about anyone, many people never stumbled across it. Propagators of the meme could have posted it to sites that are more widely accessed than an Orioles forum. But where would that be? YouTube is the obvious choice for posting a video meme, but a still image presents a challenge. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to make a photo or graphic go viral? 

Defeating Terrorism with Network Theory

The study of networks was not the easiest concept of the semester to understand. According to Amelia Arsenault in “Networks: Emerging Frameworks for Analysis,” one of the predominant reasons for this is the confusion of networks as a social construct versus networks as a form of network technology. But looking at networks as a way that people connect is an interesting way to examine the connections that bind different groups together.

One of the most interesting groups Arsenault applies Network Theory to is a terrorist group. Much criminal activity can now be classified as Netwars. This means the strength of the relationships or connections within the network are what decide the outcome. If a terrorist group has a star-format network, the hub will have to be taken out to defeat the cell. If they are built as a mesh network, meaning all the nodes are interconnected to each other and not just to a few central nodes, it becomes infinitely more difficult to take down a terrorist group. The government and military should use this information to be better equipped to take down terrorist organizations. This information can show them where to strike to eliminate the most important nodes in a network.

Another way networks can be used to battle terrorism is by tracing and connecting the nodes of a network to find the next node. In a 2006 New York Times magazine article, Can Network Theory Thwart Terrorists?, Patrick Radden Keefe examines how the National Security Agency uses Network Theory to make connections between terrorists to locate other members of a cell. Keefe writes about a Cleveland consultant, Valdis Krebs, who created a network map connecting all of the 19 terrorist involved in the 9/11 attacks within just a few links, using shared addresses, phone numbers, frequent flier numbers, etc. Most of these men were linked to each other through one leader. In retrospect, it has more of a reflective value, but if found beforehand, this time of work could provide preventative measures.

An issue that occurs with this kind of network mapping though is surveillance of everyone, even just innocent, everyday citizens. Because we are all supposedly linked within six degrees of separation, most of us are probably surprisingly close on network maps to people we wouldn’t expect, such as terrorists and criminals. That means many innocent people will end up being watched because of such linkages. This topic quickly morphs into the much-discussed, hot-topic battle of national security vs. individual privacy. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Media Platforms Pumping Out Participatory Prosumers

Some of the most intriguing reading is that of Mark Deuze in "Convergence Culture in the Creative Industries," who plucks some kernels of meaning from the notions of hybridity, odorless cultural content and familiar distance. These three concepts, all involving the blending of two distinct cultures into another, third-party culture or product can be viewed with a strategic lens. In many regards, these terms are applied when one entity is attempting to adapt products to various global markets, ensuring they will be successful worldwide. If a product can be altered to be in tune with a particular culture, and yet retain a somewhat universal appeal then the chances of the product having global demand is greater. We witness these tactics in commercials or ad campaigns all over the world from corporations selling everything from clothing to plane tickets.

But doesn't this all boil down to people?

Deuze adds a surprisingly human aspect to what seems to be a convoluted system of marketing, economic and business-driven tactics. Deuze claims that people worldwide are utilizing the same media platforms as larger entities to engage in what is called "participatory culture". This may not be such a novel concept, given the history of communication technologies and media allowing people to bridge connections, but Deuze goes one step further to say that people are much more dynamic than these communication tools may have intended for.

There are entire cultures that sprout out of the hardwirings of the Internet or the satellite signals of digital television - groups of people dispersed all over the globe that share a commonality forged from the media platforms they use. Some of the examples we used in class were the Comic-Con conference, global viewers participating in forums like LostTalk about the television show Lost and vampire-enthusiast cultures inspired by the Twilight book series. Readers, do not dismiss these phenomena as mere affirmation that geeky people exist all over the globe. There is something to this.

Take YouTube for example. The video broadcasting website is the epitome of participatory culture because users all over the world can upload their own content, view others' content and share that content using a number of other media platforms. This is an example of a platform that supports its users being "pro-sumers" or both producers of content and consumers simultaneously. Once in a while, certain videos can become so widely shared that they are said to "go viral" and are watched all around the world within a short period of time.

This is why when my friend and current roommate created the "Taco Bell Rap" video, he gained thousands of views in just two days (hits number over 2 million now) and even has videos created in response to his own original content from all over the world. This is truly participatory culture at work, where someone in the United States can have others access his content, resonate with it and respond in the same media platform, all of this occurring just by simply producing and consuming content - no advertising necessary! My roommate was even contacted by a certain fast food corporation (that shall remain nameless) to fly to California for a string of television commercials.

That leads me to wonder how marketing will change in the next few years, considering communicating with each other via these media platforms can sometimes be just as easy or in some cases more effective than ads. How will big-time advertising, public relations and media companies tailor their content to droves of pro-sumers who are all chattering amongst themselves anyway on YouTube, Twitter and the like? I would certainly like to see.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cultural Hybridity: Melting Pot Vs. Salad Ball

When people say about American culture with a diversity of races, cultures it was refered with 'Melting Pot.' However, it has been changed to refering as 'Salad Ball.' Like every ingredients have its own taste but better within a Salad Ball, the culture should be like that. In other words, rather than seeking the assimilation, respecting and protecting its own culture but mingled as one society together. I think this also can be adopted to the world's culture too. We are heading to the globalization era and interaction has been increased tremendously.

In this regards, the cultural hybridity is significant. While some country adopt cultural differences, other countries cannot. In Ugly Betty case is interesting. In Korea, Ugly Betty was imported as an original form. It was not huge success as other American TV show such as CSI, Gossip Girl but quite well know among group of people who love to watch American TV show. When I readl Miller's article about Ugly Betty, I was surprized that the original version was from England not America. Also, I think it is a good example for localizing the contents.

For refering the localization of the media contents, Salad Ball approach is required. By adding the local culture, not assimilating attempts, the local people can accept more of global contents. This cultural hybridity also think with post-colonial approach. South Africa where experienced the colonial imperism from European countreis supporessed by super-power. After independence, South Americans think other super power is suppressing them. The represental approach for this would be 'dependent theory'. No culture is imperial to other culture and every culture has been related to each other (even though there are certain degree of differences).

Cultural Hybridity should convey this value which also related to the global citizenship. In this regards, cultural hybridity an be a useful tool for achieving a global society with diverse cultural values.

Hallyu, the Korean wave

Few months ago, while I was in Korea, I was watching news in the morning. Suddenly, the K-pop was appeared in the news and my family were quite surprised because it normally do not broadcast the entertainment field. After a while, we were surprised again that there were rallies among young Parisienne to extend the K-pop concert in Paris. We knew that there were quite big Hallyu popularities in Asian region but it was quite hard to imagine that Hallyu will gain the popularities in Western coutries.

As a Korean, it is interesting and (quite happy) to see that the Korean culture is getting popular world wide. When my colleagues were came back from the conference held in Ajerbaizan, they told me that the Ajerbaizan people want to take picture with my colleagues keep saying how beautiful my colleagues are! The Korean telenovela is really popular in Ajerbaizan and they think every Koreans are pretty no matter how they really look like. My colleagues were amazed to the effect of Hallyu.

The Korean wave has been started from the Korean government's investment. Taiwan today illusted that the Korean government allocated national budget of US$805.2 to cultural and creative industry. The Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) also invest the African television market in order to spread Korean soap operah. The Korean wave enables braodcasting content market has been increased 9.3 % in 2009.

The diplomat analyzed that the success in Korean cultural exports due to the ownership is not belong to Korea but to the public which is distinct from the Hollywood products. content is for family friendly. Family can enjoy the Korean dravelas since the contents is mainly describing the family oriented stories without violent and sexual contents.

Miller suggested there are three ways how the telenovelas are exported. Most Korean drama exported in canned telenovelas format. When I was in Philliphine, I stayed in rural area with my Philiphine host family. We were watching Korean telenovelas through TV and it was interesting and sometimes embarrased me to see dubbed Korean telenovelas. Sometiems, Korean telenovelas are produced in order to export. They were put some sins filmed in target country making telenovelas to be familiar to the target culture.

In movie industry, it is quite interesting that there are many trials to co-products the movies across the Chinese/Japanese movies and Hallywood productions. Normally, it is much collarborated in co-products between Chinese, Japanese productions comparing to US productions. I believe this is mainly due to the cultural similarities. However, it is not yet successful.

With the globalization, the telenovelas are also spreading all over the world overcoming the cultural differences. The Korean wave improved itself that the Korean culture can be shared with other culture all over the world. The Korean wave is significant that this is the culture from East to the world not from the West which means that there is certain diversities arose in culture in entertainment industry.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The TV Format Marketplace

Most people don’t realize how international TV truly is. Until the last week, I didn’t realize the overlaps that exist between the programming in different countries. I knew that there were a few shows with multiple national versions, like X Factor and So You Think You Can Dance. But I had always thought those were exceptions, not norms. In fact, it is very common for shows to be sold either as the original production, with or without dubbing, or as a format. A format is the premise of a show that can then be remade to adapt to another culture or country.

The other surprising thing to me is that the US doesn’t really dominate this business. Although the ownership of the global media system is increasingly based in the US, it seems the US is not the biggest player in the TV format game. The UK easily wins that title, according to the Format Recognition and Protection Association, FRAPA. They released a report in 2009 that showed that the UK led in the number of formats exported, followed by the US and then the Netherlands. I was also surprised by how many show formats the US imports, which was 67 between 2006 and 2008.

Reality TV, competition shows and game shows are the easiest and cheapest to adapt, and so are the most common types of shows to be sold as formats. But according to FRAPA, the sale of telenovelas and dramas are increasing. Some popular shows the US has gotten from the UK include Hell’s Kitchen, the Office, Dancing with the Stars, Trading Spaces, American Idol, Prime Suspect, All in the Family, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, What Not to Wear, Whose Line Is it Anyway and Wife Swap.

There’s even a conference where programs and formats are bought and sold, called MIPTV. According to a Guardian article, they literally trade in television shows to market them in new countries. A director of global TV distribution for one of the companies, ITV Studios, Tobi de Graaff is quoted in the Guardian as saying, "Take what's successful about the show but don't ignore that you are dealing with different cultures and make the right twists to make it feel extremely home-grown and natural." 

And sometimes a show does that very well and succeeds and other times it doesn’t. For instance, Skins is a very popular British show about a group of teens and deals with controversial and racy topics. MTV used the format and remade it as a US show and it completely flopped. For me watching it, it just didn’t make sense and was too outrageous and obviously most Americans would agree, since it was quickly canceled.

A British show I loved is My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. It features members of the Irish Traveller community during big events such as weddings and First Communions. It’s fascinating because everything is so over the top and it also portrays some of the most interesting aspects of their culture like the young age of brides at the weddings and the relationship between men and women. It was a huge success in the UK and it was also broadcast in the US and did extremely well here. When it was rebroadcast in the US in its original format, it was on TLC and TLC was advertising to find US gypsy families for a US version of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. I personally hope it happens because I loved watching the first series of this guilty pleasure, but it would also be really interesting to see if that kind of show can make the transition and appeal to a mass audience like the original. 

The two extremes of global culture

In class this week we talked about convergence culture and hybridity. Prof. Hayden said that audiences still watch things that are culturally proximate. He mentioned the theories of Iwabuchi in regards to the spread of Japanese anime. Iwabuchi said successful products are culturally odorless, or unmarked. My first thought was the Tamagotchi phenomenon. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the toy, Tamagotchi is a handheld digital pet invented in Japan. It was a toy that seemed to involve more work than play. After the Tamagotchi pet was born, it required frequent attention and care.

All rights reserved by shazzy63

 These were all the rage when I was in elementary school. My friends would sit in class and worry that their Tamagotchi were going hungry. Some would even go to the bathroom just to feed their digital pets. I didn’t understand the appeal, but I begged my parents for one so I could fit in. It seems impossible to explain how these toys caught on. But the cultural odor theory might do the trick. The device was small and egg-shaped and the pets didn’t resemble any real animals. They were simple to use and understand. The digital pets also inspired a movie, an animated television series, and video games.

Kraidy questions the emergence of a hybrid global culture. The idea goes along with the homogenization of media to please a wide range of audiences. It all goes back to commercial interests. As the market expands, media producers are forced to adapt. Creating “glocal” products has become not only valuable but necessary for economic success. This begs the question – will audiences accept international entertainment that has a strong cultural odor?
Media don’t have to be void of any cultural references to be internationally popular. The filmmaker Sylvia Schedelbauer wrote an essay on cultural hybridity in the film “Avatar.” She points out certain the blend of varied cultural images throughout the film. These include the forests of Pandora, which simultaneously resemble the Amazon and the Redwood forests of California. The Na’vi people also have traits of various indigenous peoples. The movie was enormously successful. “Avatar” passed “Titanic” as the highest-grossing film of all time. The Globe and Mail also recently reported that “Avatar” is the most pirated movie on the Internet. Audiences obviously responded enthusiastically to the film even though it really can't be called all that culturally proximate for anyone.

Can a product that has smatterings of various cultures such as Avatar, or one that is extremely generic like the Tamagotchi be considered examples of a global culture?