Monday, January 30, 2012

Communication and Storytelling: Is it all just about getting what you want?

I want you to listen carefully, and take heed. I want you to believe me and believe in me. I want to see your belief and heeding reflected in your actions, as well as your choice in personal accoutrements, henceforth from the moment this message is delivered so that I can believe and take heed too. Belief can be a heavy burden for one person you know—discomforting too. And I want to be comforted, and unburdened. Oh, and I also want guilt-free sex, money, and the praise of my peers. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAW!

Would it be overly cynical, reductive, or perhaps even simplistic to suggest that the point of all this sophisticated communication media, gadgetry, and technological infrastructure is reducible to the servicing of our most basic libidinal drives, and that the rest, the ideology, mythology, and politics—the whole potlatch—might be just a fluffed-up pseudo-reality principle meant to justify our libidos retroactively, and retrospectively? Don't hold me responsible yet. I'm only suggesting it. I'm not sure if I believe it. Belief is too heavy right now. I'm tired, and my back hurts. So does my front for that matter. My top as well. And so on.

In any case, I believe I've begun this post from the position of having preemptively wandered off topic. Weird. And there's no money in it. But maybe I'm not so far off. The writing process is the thinking process as Scott Abbott once said. And it has just occurred to me that—communication, its rhetorical devices, and the syntax it establishes with its audience based on the medium by which it is delivered—is at least one constituent of the whole I'm trying to direct my focus toward. Or in other words, the medium is the message as Marshall McLuhan once said.

News as ads vs. ads as news. Is it just a question of priority at the heart of this issue? If a man bites a dog it's news. If a dog bites a man he needs new running shoes. I'm drifting again.

All I know is that if I'm going to analyze the use of social media by revolutionary political movements, I should read up on some of them. And as much as I hate to say it, reactivating my Facebook account may become prudent at some point.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Here ...You throw this away.

So far the idea is vague, broad, and general. And it’s the third in series of vague, broad, general ideas for a Capstone project, but I’ll leave those others aside for now. Suffice it to say that, as a student whose emphases are communications and English, I want to research mass communications media, specifically (possibly) advertising, internet marketing, social media, as platforms for new rhetoric—that is, according to some—or perhaps platforms for the exchange of value through storytelling, if nothing else. For now I’ll refrain from either criticizing or endorsing any conclusion because I’ve only just started to ask the question. It seems a complicated enough topic without me trying to confine it to the conclusion I hope to find. I’ll obviously need to draw some focus.

A few years back I thought I was ready to tackle this. Capsone 1 I mean. Turned out I was mostly just ready to be showered with praise from my support system for having graduated. Neither one happened because I was taking it all way too seriously. I had a slightly different idea then—the first in the series of three I mentioned earlier. And it was even more broad, vague, and general. It turned out, as I learned in the course of reading, to be one of those cliché attempts to answer some universal question that undergrads are so well known for. Still, my Integrated Studies advisor at the time saw some promise in it—I think. But she told me I needed more critical theory. She was right, and I have since acquired a great deal more experience with critical, theoretical discourses. So the only relative certainty I have at this point is that I’ll be treating the subjects of my proposed inquiry as discourses, and criticize or endorse them as such, relying heavily on my experience with English literature, journalism, free speech theory, Postmodern and Post-Structuralist Criticism, and Media Criticism.

I would like to become even more expert in all of these, including the topics in question. My hope is that, in the end I will have done it in some way that lends itself to both the job market, and grad school prospects.

My initial question is derived from, what I am told, are current market trends in advertising and what I had previously understood to be the origin of news media—the way the two have always been necessarily linked. Newspapers began as handbills, advertisements for goods and services from merchants who included news to give the public a reason to read them that served public interests up front. And by this I mean interests that exist apart from the pre-supposed premise of service implied by the advertising function of handbills. News reporting, as I understand it became the service that gave advertising its merit and kept the public from automatically discarding handbills on contact. One of my favorite comedians, Mitch Hedberg, had a joke on this topic that comes to mind. He said every time someone gave him a handbill it was as if they were saying, “Here, you throw this away.”

According to Internet marketing professionals, the industry has come full circle. Advertising in and of itself no longer holds an audience captive. There’s just too much of it. Is this new? I don’t know yet. In either case, once again, or as usual, advertising and marketing messages need to compete for public attention by serving public interest up front. I find this claim interesting, but I don’t know that it’s true in the sense that it has been explained to me. If it is, I wonder if it’s true in the same sense as it was centuries ago.
Now to focus the question…