Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
I think USAID could greatly benefit from engaging Diaspora. The diaspora can provide significant primary information that cannot be gathered from many sources. There is a great deal of mistrust amongt the United States and foreigners. I know that the U.S. seeks to form a more harmonious relationship with foreign governments and the populations they serve. Although they are extremely effective, there are always better ways to strengthen engagement. In addition to our many missions abroad, I think even more emphasis can be placed on interacting with the many diaspora's that reside in America.
By utilizing this untapped resource, the U.S.can strengthen bi-lateral communication,increase trade and provide direct assistance to foreign nations. The U.S. would then be able to harness the power to implement sustainable cooperation and create a better environment for promoting U.S foreign interests in a creative and more convenient way.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I am American born and raised but my father's family is from southern Germany. Since they immigrated, they have remained 100% German. Growing up, our Christmases were full of German tradition. My father lost much of the language because his father fought for the US in WWII and would not allow German to be spoken. I have always felt a deep connection with the language. The words are, after all, the words that my forefathers spoke to express themselves. I have always had something in me that wanted so much to make those sounds and scribe those symbols. It was essential that I learn and retake this part of who I am. So, I did. I studied German very intensely and even took a semester at the University in Berlin. I loved every second of it. I finally felt like I had connected with my roots.
Last summer, while in southern Germany, I was with friends. I was declaring proudly that I was German through and through. I could speak the language. I understood the history and customs. I enjoyed every facet of life there; from waking to falling back asleep. One night, while having a drink or two (as we Germans do), I overheard a conversation about "stupid America." Spurred on by the liquid bread, I shocked myself by turning around and getting in the speaker's face. I was American again, through and through. It was odd.
My point is, I think that identity can be very volitile. It depends on the situation, sometimes.
I also feel that the way the communication works in this "globalized" era has so much to do with the marketing of identity. Are we not reminded daily that we are American? We see ads about political candidates. We see ads and hear news reports about our soldiers advancing and protecting our interests abroad. We are reminded in very subtle ways that we are Americans. It's not out and out propoganda. It's not something that dismisses other identity sources, but it does seem to hold its own agenda (again - not that that's a bad thing, necessarily).
I am only one guy, though. So let me know other ways in which you might think this "marketing" has permeated your mind. Or let me know I'm wrong.
I am, however, open to new things and will give this a shot.
When I thought about it, I did realize that there is something very appealing about being able to voice opinion and, especially here, it can sometimes go unnoticed that such freedoms exist. When I thought about blogging in this light, it did honestly make me curious to try it out as an exersice in my amendment rights. The founders of this nation did make a point to ensure this freedom for me, after all. So maybe I should see what tools are available to me.
The ironic thing is, I'm an IC major. I should be exploring all I can about this channel that has always been so very open to me. So this first blog is a humble one. Here I am: a communications major trying out a form of communication that the rest of the world has utilized for such a long time. Yes, it would seem I still have much to learn.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross, the Cultivation Theory is the product of a study to examine the effects of television on American culture. After discussing the topic in class, I not only thought about how television impacts the American public, but I also thought about how television impacts the way other countries view America. Some foreigners will never visit America in their lifetime. So if they never encounter American life, how are their perceptions developed? A recent Christian Science Monitor poll found that 47 percent of Americans thought television portrayed the country in a positive light, whereas 43 percent had mixed feelings or thought the influence was negative.
I think it's fascinating that television and technology overall, gives anybody the opportunity
to have influence. With the rise of Youtube, American television is being made more accessible
to the world. This means that other countries have more of an opportunity to engage American life.
Globalization and the impact of television are interconnected. If the United States is
serious about diplomacy and spreading cultural influence, more emphasis must be placed on balance in television programming. The Cultivation Theory is a perfect example of how the media and particularly television can help influence change and sharpen perspectives if used correctly.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Thussu examines communication theory that emerged post World War II. The reading recounts how modernization theory was criticized by Southern scholars as “the chief beneficiaries of modernization programmes were not the 'traditional' rural poor in the South, but Western media and communication companies, which had expanded into the Third World, ostensibly in the name of modernization and development, but in fact in search of new consumers for their products.” I agree with this sentiment, as the creators of the modernization theory seemed to over simplify each countries culture, socio-economic, and political structures. I believe the emergence and adoptions communication technologies such as the Internet and cell phones created a more egalitarian approach to communications.
Thussu discusses the view of Ritzer who believes that globalization is actually “Americanization” and argues that globalization is not achieved because it does not have a 'multidimensional relationship among many nations'. Thussu explores the opposition to this perception, but was not able to predict the way the Internet would transform globalization.
A recent Gallup Poll found that mobile telephone subscriptions have grown faster in Africa than in any other region in the world since 2003, and that nearly 151 million people have cell phones in the 17 countries they surveyed. This technology has the ability to develop in ways that reflect the culture and address country specific problems. An example is the Kenyan company Ushahidi, a open source software that collects local reports for interactive mapping. It was used during 2007 post-election violence in Kenya to collect reports of violence, mostly via text message, when traditional media was failing to report on the upheaval.
U.S. based companies are beginning to cater to markets that want to use their interface in a localized way. Google has developed Google Swahili, which allows user to access Google services in the East African language. Joe Mucheru, Google Lead for sub-Saharan Africa commented “We want to make the Internet more relevant and useful to East Africans”.
It is largely true that the modernization theory has created consumers of Westernized technology, but the Internet creates a way for countries to develop the technology to reflect their culture, and interests.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Or is it?
We are conditioned to examine our world within the framework society provides us and in doing so it is possible to end up doing something that's quite simply crazy. However, according to Carey in the reading for class this week, by creating irony we are, as a society, caused to reexamine our communications within this new light. The Monty Python sketches and movies of the 70s and 80s challenged some of the longest standing aspects of British reality with a combination of irony and sheer lunacy. Nothing was sacred and they lampooned everything from religion, to royalty, to politics and everything in between. The skit above is a perfect example, as it reminds us of the ridiculous things we pay for and the bizarre ways we spend our time.
Monday, September 12, 2011
In considering content of my first post, I really wanted to look at International Communications through a lens focusing on a central theme for this course. In the reading for the first week, both Thussu and Mattelart present a brief history of communications and how the field has advanced from the construction of Roman roads to the rise of television as the dominant form of communication of the 20th century. In doing so, they both also highlighted how control of communications and information helped the formation and development of the major empires of the last two millennia.
History is rife with examples of how empires maintained control of their colonies through the successful use of the latest communications technologies: the Roman roads allowed for messengers to more quickly transfer news and information from across western Europe back to the capital; The British empire was founded on their superior navy and control of the oceans, which allowed them to control trade routes and with them the flow of trade information. The British Empire later flourished with their near monopoly of telegraph lines in the 19th century, and the United States similarly used television and radio to project their power in the 20th century.
While fascinating in of itself, the history of control of communications and political power has far reaching implications for the future also. The internet appears to have changed the dynamics of power with regard to both control of communications and the information flow.
While some states, such as China, attempt to censor the internet by blocking certain sites, and others, such as Egypt and Iran try to “turn it off” in times of unrest, people are still able to connect. During the “Green Revolution” in Iran we saw how twitter remained a forum for protesters to alert one another of upcoming demonstrations in spite of the fact that the government was supposedly blocking the site from use.
States using tools of communication to forward their own ends is nothing new, but the public rejection of it is. In Egypt, deposed President Mubarak attempted to shutdown internet access in his country and five days later the internet was back on and the protests were more vehement than ever. As Reporters Without Borders reporter Lucie Morillon argued according to Forbes Magazine, “keeping millions of people offline simply isn’t a sustainable approach to quelling dissent.”
States also have substantially less control of information flow. With worldwide access, instant news and leaks of classified material, it is impossible for governments to effectively control what general public reads, sees, hears or even shape the way that information is framed.
Unlike the telegraph, newsprint, radio, or even television, the internet creates at least the potential for a new political paradigm for communications and information. Whether or not states will ever be able to control communications the way they have done for centuries is now an open question, but more to the point, will people ever allow states to control information like that again? The future of control of communications is a question we will no doubt come back to often over the course of the semester.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
December, 2010 marked the beginning of what became known as the Arab Spring, a series of demonstrations and protests throughout the Middle East. The Egyptian revolution sparked in the advent of the Tunisian revolution to overthrow leader Hosni Mubarak. Social media has been crowned the champion of these movements; as many protestors organized rallies throughout the region using mediums like Facebook and Twitter. How much of an impact can communication technology have on social movements? And is this necessarily a new trend? According to the Financial Times Mark Zuckerburg, the creator or Facebook commented on “overall trend” of greater sharing of information between friends and family online was “an extremely powerful thing” that was “fundamentally rewiring the world from the ground up”.
The sentiment of communications having an impact on population is not a new notion according to Daya Thussu, in “International Communication: Continuity and Change”. The use of radio during the Cold War is an example of the power of communication tools have on populations. In Egypt, British used the “Voice of Britain” as a tool for anti-Egyptian propaganda, and were countered by President Gamaal Nasser’s “Voice of Arabs” which promoted Pan- Arab ideology. Both of the radio programs pushed their own politically motivated agenda, the consumer’s only participation was through the decision to listen to the station. Thussu goes on to describe how the “The Cairo-based 'Voice of the Arabs' was an international service, which in the 1950s and 1960s became the 'pulpit of revolution', notably in the leftist revolution in Iraq in 1958.” [i]Communication technology has served as a tool of revolutions throughout history, but instead of just consuming information, social media creates an egalitarian approach to communication. The user-driven content allows individuals to direct their own political message—as examples show throughout the Middle East. The interactivity of the internet allows for mass dialogue between creators and consumers, unfathomable in the days of radio. Yet one cannot use communication tools alone as the raison d'être for revolutions.