Critical Analysis of Culture Essay Due Tonight!!!
Backing up to Cover Rhetoric and Values
Although I have plenty of information about rhetoric on this website, I’m not comfortable enough that we’re on the same page. I’d like to address rhetoric as meaning built into a text, situation, or context. Rhetoric is everywhere, and there’s never a non-rhetoric communication situation. Before we move on to Jenkins’s “Introduction: ‘Worship at the Altar of Convergence’”, let’s do the following:
- Discuss the Ubiquity of Rhetoric
- Have a historical rhetoric introduction (links to a different class)
Happy Valentine’s Day! Folks, it’s scientifically proven that it just gets worse…This is an excellent reading to share with your partner, spouse, significant other, etc. Before you make the plunge, do some reflection.
Jenkins’s “Introduction: ‘Worship at the Altar of Convergence’” (2006)
Remember, this is just an introduction to his more thoroughly presented discussion of media convergence and popular culture that the rest of the book examines. There is much in this introduction that’s valuable to our discussions, but, there’s much more in Jenkins’s chapters.
Consider this idea during our discussion: Contemporary communication technologies allow users to spread messages instantly and widely (wordly, in fact). Below are some notes:
- p. 2: Convergence culture “…where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways.”
- p. 2: Convergence: “…the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.”
- p. 3: Relation to consumption: “In the world of media convergence, every important story gets told, every brand gets sold, and every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms.”
- Does he really mean every story?
- p. 3: Not simply a technological influence: “Convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content.”
- p. 3: Participatory culture: “Not all participants are created equal. Corporations and even individuals within corporate media—still exert greater power than any individual consumer or even the aggregate of consumers. [*] And some consumers have greater abilities to participate in this emerging culture than others.[**]”
- *This is quite interesting in light of the recent Supreme Court decision that corporations have “free speech” just like individual citizens.
- **Think celebrities, the rich, and other super consumers we talked about earlier.
- p. 3-4: “Each of us constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow and transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives.”
- p. 4: Consumption as a collective process: “…collective intelligence….None of us can know everything; each of us knows something; and we can put the pieces together if we pool our resources and combine our skills.”
- p. 5: Negroponte’s Being Digital (1990…or 1995) “predicting the collapse of broadcast networks in favor of an era of narrowcasting and niche media on demand.”
- And that is the state of things even if media companies are owned as subsidiaries of larger corporations.
- I commented in 2011 that ESPN was riding high (and would continue to do so); however, I might need to adjust my view: ESPN Layoffs 2017.
- p. 9: Video games as immersive experience: “[New Orleans Conference media executives] wanted to use games to explore ideas that couldn’t fit within two-hour films.”
- p. 10: Multitude of media: “A process called ‘convergence of modes’ is blurring the lines between media, even point-to-point communications, such as the post, telephone and telegraph, and mass communications, such as the press, radio, and television” (Ithiel de Solo Pool , qtd. In Jenkins).
- p. 11: “Freedom is fostered when the means of communication are dispersed, decentralized, and easily available, as are printing presses or microcomputers. Central control is more likely when the means of communication are concentrated, monopolized, and scarce, as are great networks” (Pool, qtd. In Jenkins).
- p. 13: Media evolve; delivery technologies become obsolete.
- pp. 13-14: Lisa Gitelman’s model of media
- 1st level: “a medium is a technology that enables communication.”
- 2nd level: “a medium is a set of associated “protocols” or social and cultural practices that have grown up around that technology…media are also cultural systems.”
- Cultural systems…let’s pause there. They’re certainly technological systems, but how are they cultural systems? Isn’t culture like art and theater…theatre stuff?
- p. 14: “Old media are not being displaced. Rather, their functions and status are shifted by the introduction of new technologies.”
- Think the Theater vs. the Box Office—which is considered “art”?
- What type of person fetishizes old media such as vinyl?
- p. 15: Black Box Fallacy: “all media content is going to flow through a single black box into our living rooms (or, in the mobile scenario, through black boxes we carry around with us everywhere we go).”
- p.16: “the black box concept…reduces media change to technological change and strips aside the cultural levels we are considering here.”
- p. 17: “Our lives, relationships, memories, fantasies, desires also flow across media channels. Being a lover or a mommy or a teacher occurs on multiple platforms.”
- p. 18: “there has been an alarming concentration of the ownership of mainstream commercial media, with a small handful of multinational media conglomerates dominating all sectors of the entertainment industry.”
- p. 20: Affective economics: “the ideal consumer is active, emotionally engaged, and socially networked. Watching the advert or consuming the product is no longer enough; the company invites the audience inside the brand community.”
- p. 21: Fan culture in response to mass culture.
- p. 23: “elite consumers exert a disproportionate influence on media culture in part because advertisers and media producers are so eager to attract and hold their attention.”
What other term can we use for “elite consumer”?
*Jenkins’s goal for Convergence Culture: “I explore how collective meaning-making within popular culture is starting to change the ways religion, education, law, politics, advertising, and even the military operate.”
Questions about Technology
Now, I want us to turn to further discuss rhetoric and values further. Let’s start with rhetoric and then (maybe) go to the page on locating American values. Consider the following questions when analyzing culture:
- How would I define my/our culture?
- What constitutes cultural norms, values, ideologies?
- What do the products I use say about the person I am in regard to my social place?
- What makes a technology uniquely…
- What do nuclear weapons say about society?
As I said before, we must understand the ways in which culture mediates ideology. Media–new and old–are mediated by social and cultural values that reproduce ideology(ies).
Time permitting, we might head back to our Postmodernism introduction.
Who or what provides us with the cultural menu? Better yet, who reinforces and reproduces our reality that embodies our values? What do the Red Hot Chili Peppers have to say about this subject?
Your Turn on Technology (time permitting…doubt it)
For the next 10-15 minutes in groups of three or fewer, decide on a technology to contemplate and consider the rhetoric of that technology*. Discuss the following with the group:
(*Please avoid discussing mobile phones as your technology since we’ve talked about them already–branch out.)
- What are the social values that appear embedded in the technology? In other words, if technology is mediated (comes to be) because of prevailing cultural values, from what cultural values does the technology come?
- What are the social implications of its design or use? Is it gendered?
- Is it systemic (meaning, a product of the ever-present “system”)? Consider if it would “work” in another culture.
- What does your technology say about the culture that created it?
Have any of you thought about the ways in which you’ll communicate in the future? How do you think collaboration will happen (and will it)? What’s the importance of collaboration and good communication in science, technology, and industry.
Next Week’s Class
Keep up with the syllabus and continue reading Simon Malpas’s The Postmodern. Next week, we’ll be discussing James Curran, Natalie Fenton, & Des Freedman’ s Misunderstanding the Internet. It’s a much longer read than our readings so far, so don’t delay. Remember, the Library has eBooks for the following: