Digital Dominance

We have entered an age where increases in technological advances are beginning to exceed some human capabilities.  Our economic problems are the main cause behind America’s job shortage, but many people blame advancing technology for the job shortage as well.  Authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of the e-book “Race Against the Machine” write, “Many workers, in short, are losing the race against the machine”  (Lohr, 2011).

Brynjolfsson and McAfee say that computers are typically “narrow and literal-minded” and “at a loss when a solution requires intuation and creativity” (Lohr, 2011).  Such jobs are best completed by humans because we are capable of creativity.  Machines have been known to increasingly take over more laborious and physical work.  According to MIT economist, David Autor, 38% of all American workers were working on farms in the 20th century – presently, that number has dropped to 2% (Arnold, 2011).  Ken Doctor (author of Newsonomics), Brynjolfsson and McAfee all insist that a partnership must be formed between man and machine.

In Newsonomics, Doctor explains his ninth news trend, “Apply the 10 Percent Rule” (Doctor, 2010).  Doctor encourages us to move beyond the whole “man vs. technology” conflict and open our eyes as to what each side is capable of bringing to the table.  Doctor says to “Let technology do as much of the heavy lifting as possible—that’s the 90 percent—and let humans come along and work on top of the technology, adding the skills, the intelligence, and the judgment.  It’s that 10 percent that will differentiate what the technology can do” (Doctor, 2010).

Technology is now capable of basic human qualities, but not complex ones.  We are still needed to frost the cake, if you will, also often referred to as the “presentation layer”.  Dave Johnson’s article, “Technology Taking Over Jobs”, invites us to think about a world where the busy work is done for us.  Johnson asks readers, “Shouldn’t a machine taking over a job be a time of rejoicing? Shouldn’t a new machine or process mean one less hour of work is needed from everyone?” (Johnson, 2009).  That question will continue to be debated upon, but one thing is for certain – a human + machine equation will surely drive the future.

 

Works Cited:

Arnold, C. (2011, November 3). Npr. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2011/11/03/141949820/how-technology-is-eliminating-higher-skill-jobs

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Johnson, D. (2009, January 9). Seeing the forest. Retrieved from http://www.seeingtheforest.com/archives/2009/01/technology_taki.htm

Lohr, S. (2011, October 30). Retrieved from http://www2.tbo.com/business/business/2011/oct/30/bznewso1-technology-taking-over-more-work-ar-298949/

 

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The Times They Are A-Changing

In Ken Doctor’s Newsonomics, he discusses the new trends that are shaping the future of the news.  He hypothesizes “Twelve New Trends” that will shape the news we receive.  Trend, or “law” number two is “The Digital Dozen Will Dominate” (Doctor, 2010).  The “Digital Dozen” consist of global-reaching companies that will “dominate” the news business.  Doctor names four top news sites in the country: Yahoo, MSNBC, AOL and CNN and The New York Times (Doctor, 2010).  The New York Times is the only newspaper company in the top five.

Referred to by Doctor as “the old Gray Lady of print”, The New York Times won the best of broadcast awards, the Peabody (Doctor, 2010).  The reason behind this newspaper company’s success?  Their ability to adapt and succeed in the transition to web-based media.  The Times has partnered with NBC, both gaining mutual advantages from one another.  As Doctor puts it, “The Times gets video; NBC gets Times writers and columnists on air” (Doctor, 2010).

The Times has also brought in multimedia and multiplatform journalist, David Pogue.  Pogue is the whole package – he’s a phenomenal journalist on multiple levels; as a columnist, as a blogger, as a video-blogger.  He has appeared on multiple cable series; written a Missing Manual series on Apple products and usage; has a very popular Twitter following; AND has musical theater talents (Doctor, 2010).  By snatching up such a dime-piece journalist, the Times has a huge advantage in this media revolution.

The Times has furthered its internal revolution by introducing the “Times Extra” feature to its web users. This feature offers headline links to stories (even those by other companies) below related Times articles.  The aim of this feature is to encourage web users to make NYTimes.com the go-to source for news, because there, they offer it all.  Not to mention, the more visits that the site receives, the more advertising the Times can sell (Doctor, 2010).

These are just a few of the many steps that this top-notch company has taken to adapt to this new media age, in which the internet is overtaking print.  Let other companies be warned, it’s going to take a lot to keep up with the Times.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

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THE COLUMBINE STORY: WHO WAS TELLING WHOM?

Thirteen lives lost, many injured.  Countless affected.  Columbine is known as a mass murder and a school shooting.  But it was never supposed to be exclusively a shooting.  It was a planned bombing that had failed.  Had the bombs detonated, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would have killed five hundred people in the first few seconds (Cullen, 2009).

sm.headweb.com

This occurrence became iconic.  Every school shooting since has been compared to Columbine.  At first, Columbine “ignited a national debate on bullying” but was then proven to be unrelated (Toppo, 2009).  Rumors from the media claimed that that the shooters had been bullied and had planned to retaliate on the school jocks, blacks, and Christians (Toppo, 2009).  These rumors were later proven false.  Their only target was mass killing.

www.nogw.com

Another myth presented by the media was that these murderers were members of the Trench Coat Mafia (TCM) (BBC, 1999).  According to Cullen’s Columbine, “The writers assumed kids were informing the media.  It was the other way around.”  Kids heard TCM mentioned on the news, and assumed the information to be accurate.  The full story of the occurrence wouldn’t be fully revealed and set straight until 10 years after the fact.

 

George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory reflects the Columbine effect very well.  His theory suggests that television is the main source of storytelling in today’s society (“Mass communication context,” 2001).  “Heavy television viewers are exposed to more violence and therefore are effected by the Mean World Syndrome, an idea that the world is worse than it actually is.”  Anyone watching television on April 20, 1999 was made aware of the Columbine shooting – Columbine was being covered more than the war of the time was.  This coverage heightened the fears of parents and children alike.  I, myself, was never aware of the Columbine shootings until high school.  But I have many friends that found out about the shootings when they occurred and have been haunted by it ever since.

 

References

BBC. (1999, April 21). Who are the trenchcoat mafia?. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/325054.stm

Cullen, D. (2009). Columbine. New York: Twelve.

Mass communication context. (2001, February 14). Retrieved from http://www.uky.edu/~drlane/capstone/mass/cultivation.htm

Toppo, G. (2009, April 14). Usa today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-04-13-columbine-myths_N.htm

 

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The Magic of Advergaming

Rewind to your elementary school days.  Your mom has dragged you along to the grocery store, again.  You trail behind her as she pushes the shopping cart through the cereal isle when, suddenly, your dream cereal catches your eye.  You’ve seen the entrancing commercials; even eaten it at friends’ houses; and can confirm that this is no ordinary cereal – it is magically delicious.  And Mom still won’t buy it.  You lock eyes with Lucky the Leprechaun and he smiles at you with encouragement.  You grab the box anyway and scurry after her – one of these days, something’s gotta give.

It’s no secret that children have a huge amount of influence over their families’ spending.  According to “Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing”, children actually have influence over billions of dollars worth of spending each year.  This is why advertisers are increasingly targeting children in their marketing efforts.  A very successful approach to marketing towards children is Advergaming.  Advergaming uses online video games to promote a particular brand or product.  These games often involve animated characters on an adventure in pursuit of obtaining the advertised product.  Advertisers are increasingly bombarding children with brand and product messages through advergaming in order to influence their consumer habits as well as their families’ – resulting in serious consequences.

Many cereal brands incorporate advergames into their product websites.  Advertisers create an interactive atmosphere where children will be familiarized with their product, all with the aim of influencing kids’ consumer agendas.  Luckycharms.com invites kids to “join the race” with Lucky the Leprechaun on the “Shooting Star Speedway”.  Other, similar advergames for cereal products engage kids in adventure with characters associated with the sugary cereal.

According to CBS News article, “Play It Again: Advergaming”, “children [are] now as likely to be on the Internet as on the playground, they are exposed to so much advertising they learn to ignore it, that’s why advertisers love Internet games — they demand attention.”  If a child enjoys one of these games, it is likely that they will be influenced and want to have that cereal for breakfast, pressuring their parents to buy that product.  However, the questionability of nutrition in these sugary cereals has always been that of parental concern.  According to “Marshmallow Power and Frooty Treasures: Disciplining the Child Consumer through Online Cereal Advergaming”,  “while public health advocates agree that there are many contributing factors to childhood obesity, one preventable factor they hope to take out of the equation is food marketing.”

Other consequences of marketing towards children, besides childhood obesity, include parent-child conflict and materialism in children.  A parent is more likely to give in to a child if that child pressures them relentlessly for a particular product.  Children also develop “favorite” brands at an early age and often become life-long, loyal consumers of those brands – another one of the many reasons that advertisers market their products toward children.

Advertisements geared toward children are becoming increasingly more common and therefore more influential on kids.  Through the use of advergaming, brands are able to encourage children to interact with characters representing their brand, ultimately encouraging children (and their families) to buy the product.  But the consequences of this growing brand exposure can be serious; ultimately having effects on parent-child conflict, child materialism, and childhood obesity.

Image 1 courtesy of:
http://www.visualphotos.com/photo/2×1917706/portrait_of_a_small_girl_holding_a_box_of_cereal_128210h.jpg

Image 2 courtesy of:

luckycharms.com

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Get Up Offa That Thing!

Bolt’s Reassessment*

Ever felt down in the dumps?  Follow “Bolt” the dog’s example and getup offa that thing!  Listed as one of the 10 Best Super Bowl 2012 Commercials by SuperBowl-Commercials.org, Volkswagen’s Super Bowl ad, “The Dog Strikes Back” tells Bolt’s inspiring story.  The target audience of this commercial is most likely upper-middle class women.  The metaphor between the red Volkswagen Beetle and the dog getting back into shape portrays a lifestyle change.

The commercial begins with a small red car whizzing by outside.  An overweight dog attempts to squeeze through the doggy door but cannot fit.  The Examiner article, “2012 Super Bowl commercials: VW’s ‘The Dog Strikes Back’ is night’s big hit,” suggests that the dog is “inspired by the new Beetle” and comes to the realization that it’s time for a lifestyle change.  “Get Up Offa That Thing” by James Brown plays as the dog is shown exercising via the stairs, treadmill, exercise ball, pool, etc.  The dog is even shown dieting as food is dropped on the floor and the dog resists vacuuming it up.  Ideal weight accomplished, the dog spots the red car passing outside and rushes through the doggy door and through the front yard, its fur blowing in the wind.  The dog runs alongside the red car, which happens to be a Volkswagen Beetle, and the narrator announces “Back and better than ever.”  The Volkswagen logo appears and under it, “That’s the power of German engineering.  Das Auto.”

“The Dog Strikes Back” commercial turns out to be a commercial on a TV in a Star-Wars-esque bar scene, complete with alien customers.  Two of the bar-goers discuss the commercial and decide that “the dog is funnier than the Vador kid,” at which point Darth Vador enters and the music abruptly stops as he uses ‘the force’ to threateningly strangle the alien that made the comment.  He then releases the alien and the music starts up again.  The alien apologizes with a “Sorry” and the Volkswagen logo appears again as the commercial ends.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-9EYFJ4Clo

The hidden meaning behind this message conveys a lifestyle change, and that hard work reaps benefits (a.k.a. the body you desire, or the car you desire).  In this commercial, Volkswagen uses a couple of persuasive techniques – Association as well as Humor.  According to the Media Literacy Project’s “Introduction to Media Literacy”, the Association technique attempts to “link a product, service, or idea with something already liked or desired by the target audience,” such as losing weight or getting fit.  Another subcategory of Association that is used in this ad is the Warm & Fuzzy technique, in which sentimental images (in this case, an adorable dog) are used to create feelings of happiness.  Humor is also used as a persuasive technique.  By incorporating humor into this ad, the audience may connect that good feeling to the product being sold (or so advertisers hope!).  This message is meant to empower middle-aged women whom seek a lifestyle change.  It encourages hard work and suggests that hard work is the most rewarding.  Essentially, the message portrayed in this ad is “be the best that you can be” (obviously, the best you drives a 2012 Beetle).

Analyzing the Super Bowl ads has definitely broadened my understanding of persuasive advertising.  Behind every fuzzy creature and every triggered laugh, is a message – whether we, the audience, realize it or not.  It is important to dissect ads to better understand the amount of power and persuasion they hold over us.  By educating ourselves on these things, we potentially hold the power to change the future of advertising.

*Image found at http://blog.truecar.com/2012/02/02/carmakers-invest-big-with-super-bowl-xlvi-commercials/volkswagen-the-dog-strikes-back/

 

 

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About Catie

Hi, I’m Catie!  I’m a sophomore at Longwood University, majoring in mass media communications and minoring in international studies.  I’m a member of Delta Zeta sorority and am also involved on campus as a mentor for the Big Sibling Program.

One of my most prized possessions in high school was (and continues to be) my Jack Johnson Sleep Through The Static Tour poster, signed by the lovely Zach Gill.  July of that summer I had spinal fusion surgery, which basically means 2 titanium rods were screwed into my spine to correct my scoliosis and straighten out my spine.  With my spine straightened out, I essentially grew 2 inches taller overnight, which was awesome.  Anyway, I wasn’t allowed to do any strenuous activity for 6 months and was basically house-ridden for a month, but I was told that if my recovery continued to go well, I could attend the Jack Johnson concert that August.  I’m kind of a JJ fanatic, so that was basically what I looked forward to for a month and a half – going to that concert with my best friend, Lauren.  When the day finally came, I was beyond stoked.  Lauren and I got there super early and were some of the first people in line to enter the venue, and got FRONT ROW seats thanks to our general admission tickets.  We took turns walking around the venue, and I noticed one of Jack’s buds, Zach Gill, playing one of Lauren’s and my favorite songs on his accordion – “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down”.  I ran over to watch/sing along, then waited in line to get our posters signed by him.  When it was finally my turn, I stepped up to him with the biggest smile on my face.  His response to my ridiculous grin was “hey, pretty lady”.  I almost swooned.  Luckily, he grabbed the posters and signed them because at that moment I wasn’t capable of moving.  Lauren and I sang and danced (and screamed) our hearts out that night.  That poster is now framed on my wall at home, and reminds me to work through the tough times because those are what make the good times even better.

 

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