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COMS 210 Final: Reading Notes FINAL COMS 210

Communication Studies
Course Code
COMS 210
cayley sorochan
Study Guide

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His rehabilitation is a crucial component of the developing online economy. which is increasingly
reliant on the economic value of information gathered through sophisticated interactive
communication technologies.
o The way in which reality TV helps to reposition the portrayal of surveillance and highlight its
advantages not to the watchers but to the watched.
Instead. it is to provide one possible interpretation of an emerging pattern in the
reception and portrayal of contemporary forms of commercial surveillance and to
demonstrate the fruitfulness of this interpretation as a means of thinking about
shifting cultural and economic patterns in the information age.
o Big Brother is reconstituted not as a symbol for all that is wrong with surveillance but as a
popular global game show format, poking fun at the idea that there's anything scary about
perpetual monitoring
From authoritarian monster to harmless figure of ridicule
THESIS: I consider how such programs help define a particular form of subjectivity consonant with
an emerging online economy: one that equates submission to surveillance with self-expression
and self-knowledge.
The atiit of eig athed ast podutie o its o, ut oupled ith aothe fo of
labor, it helped multiply the latter's productivity
o Audiences perform work by viewing advertising in exchange for "payment" in the form of
programming content.
They argue that there exists a point beyond which it is no longer efficient to attempt
to require audiences to work more
The problem for those who would exploit the labor of viewing/consuming is to find a
way around this limit
Jhally and Livant propose two possible paths: merging content with advertising and
developing techniques to make viewers "watch harder"
lf the rationalization of consumption relies upon the fact that sites of consumption and labor are
no longer distinct, a show like The Runner demonstrates how the distinction between viewing as
leisure/entertainment (the "content") and watching as work (the advertising) erodes.
o This integration of activities becomes one of the anticipated results of convergence within
the digital enclosure.
A second strategy for making audiences work harder is to rationalize their labor by breaking the
advertising market down so as to ensure that each viewer works as efficiently as possible.
o The labor of being watched goes hand-in-hand with the work process: viewers are
monitored so that advertisers can be ensured that the work of watching is getting done.
o Watching may be a form of work, ut it doest take plae ithi a etalized spae that
would allow broadcasters to stand over viewers with a stopwatch, as in the case of the
displining of the factory labor force
Mistrust of centralized forms of surveillance
We accept a level of supervision in the workplace that we so far haven't been willing
to tolerate in the privacy of our homes
The productive potential of the labor of being watched is further limited by the structure of the
mass media model, which can only develop the logic of market fractionation up to a point. It is
desirable to isolate an affluent demographic but to continue to subdivide it beyond a certain point
would be counterproductive.
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o because the kind of surveillance that takes place in the realm of consumption extends into
the individual's private space and free time, detailed monitoring has tended to be relatively
costly and has relied to a large extent on the consent of the monitored
The interactive media offer the potential to integrate the labor of watching with that of being
o interactive media offer the ability to generate cybernetic commodities with a minimum of
effort and expense.
The speculative value of the online economy is dependent. at least in part, on the
anticipated economic benefits of customized forms of marketing and production that
rely upon increasingly pervasive and comprehensive forms of consumer surveillance.
the equation of pervasive monitoring with creativity and self-expression that is
one of the hallmarks of the current generation of reality programming.
My goal is not to question the definition of "reality" implicit in The Real World or to hold it up
against some yardstick of what reality really is. but rather to explore the way in which this
definition functions to reinforce the logic of a surveillance-based interactive economy outlined
o The reality of the programs becomes dependent on perpetual surveillance, which is
presented as the antidote to artificial interactions
o Perpetual surveillance, on this account, doesn't compel conformity; rather, it reveals
authentic individuality.
Reality TV shows serve as the perfect metaphor for the online economy: they directly exploit the
work of being watched as a source of cheap labor.
o In this respect, the reality trend aligns itself with the efforts of the proponents of the new
economy to destigmatize surveillance and reposition it as a form of convenience. We are
not "working" for the marketers when we submit to pervasive monitoring on this account;
rather, they are facilitating their slavish devotion to our every whim and fancy, in an ongoing
attempt to serve us better.
The popular reception of the Internet as a means of democratizing the one-way, top-down mass
media model certainly works in favor of this attempt
o Consumers are being blackmailed with the question "Wouldn't you rather be targeted by
ads for products you're actually interested in than barraged by advertising for products that
are completely irrelevant to your needs and wants?"
Honesty was valorized in the cast members of reality TV
o Perhaps the secret to making surveillance more acceptable is not to lessen the extent but,
on the contrary, to universalize it
The more businesses know about me, the better they can meet my needs
The promise of interactivity within the sphere of e-commerce is that labor and life activity are
reunited - that the labor of customized consumption can offer the fulfillment of creative life
For viewers, learning about the houseguests means learning about themselves
o Rather than being described as an invasion of privacy or as an oppressive form of
manipulation, the process of being watched all the time was positioned, as a challenge that
forced cast members to learn about themselves and to develop as individuals
The paradox of a surveillance-based economy is that it pretends to individuals that they count-
that they are worthy of individual attention - even though all it really wants to do is count them-to
plug their vital statistics into a marketing algorithm.
o The celebrity status attained by participants on the show highlights the promise that
authentication via surveillance has its tangible rewards
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Big Brother's gaze no longer symbolizes the threat of mass homogeneity but the
promise of a paradoxical mass individuation
In a world in which the public sphere has been debilitated to the extent that publicity is
reconfigured as spectacle
o The democratizing promise offered by the Internet in the era of e-commerce is not that
everyone will be able to participate in a revitalized public sphere but that everyone will be
able to participate in politics as celebrity
This real world is precisely a world imagined by the architects of mass customization. Reality
becomes mass customized just as the online economy starts to become a reality.
The lesson of reality TV for media critics is that a two way
o A participatory medium is by no means an inherently progressive one. And this is not just a
case of imbalances in the flow of information. but also because of the economic value
o The more willing consumers are to send information about themselves upstream, the better
for those companies in a position to exploit such information
We Live in Public tells the story of Josh Harris a dot com millionaire who funnelled his fortune
into people broadcasting their lives via internet enabled closed circuit TV
Hundreds of other media have popularized the capturing and broadcasting of personal
information to large, networked audiences.
o Constant contact with friends, creating strong bonds of intimacy and togetherness
I at to deostrate ho the pro ess of digital istatiatio likeise orks toard
quantification, qualifiatio, ad puliity y rederig users’ lies i pieeeal fashio,
unintentionally creating a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts.
Lifestreamers must see themselves through the gaze of others, altering their behavior as
needed to maintain their desired self- presentation.
o This constant monitoring against the backdrop of a networked audience creates anxiety
and encourages jockeying for status, even as it brings forth new forms of social
o Lifestreaming is worth studying because this is the terrain on which questions of
authenticity and disclosure are currently playing out.
Lifestreaming needs to be understood as an act of publicity.
Lifestreaming can be used to publicize knowledge; to gain emotional benefits,
social capital, and information; or to shore up support in an argument, but it is
rarely used as a way to disregard or eliminate privacy
o Lifestreaming is the ongoing sharing of personal information to a networked audience,
the eatio of a digital potait of oes atios and thoughts.
o Lifesteaig is the alas- o aspet of soial edia, the ostat pigs ad alets
that make smartphones so hard to ignore.
Gelernter and Freeman envisioned a private, personal fi ling system that would help people
or ga nize their lives and memories.
o Eeoe ho uses the iteet has a detailed, pe sis tet digital footpit, eated
knowingly or unknowingly, actively or passively.
The tracking aspect of lifestreaming is also called self-uatifi atio, o pesoal
ifoatis. Self- tracking junkies monitor every aspect of their lives
o From moods to sex life to temperature (e.g. FitBit)
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