Topics in Emerging Media and Communications

Archive for March 2011

The Unconscious Crowd

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Our relationship with media has changed forever. Reading “Premediation” by Richard Grusin was a revelation for me because I was able to look at my own responses to the information flow of the news media, government and military entities from a new perspective.  The salient point that arose in the book is how we document and exchange images, memories, personal stories through digital media, so much so that it has become an ordinary occurrence in our lives. Grusin refers to this as our “technological unconscious – the way in which they are integrated within our everyday unconscious use of technology (72).” When we experience something, we immediately want to share that experience, and what better way to do so is through the wired network?

When we are participating in an experience via a media source, we have an awareness that others are simultaneously experiencing the event as well. This provides a feeling of connection, regardless of physical proximity, which seems like an important argument for the benefits of interactive digital communication. Grusin acknowledges this , but he explores the questions of how our interactions with media technologies elicit emotional responses and how those responses effect us socially and politically.

I would like to take this a step further by exploring how our relationship to each other through a digital platform can be utilized in an effort to promote change. Grusin focuses his arguments in “Premediation” around the change that happened after the attacks of 9/11. He believes that the powers of the government, military and news media focus our collective attention on possible threats as a way to instill immediacy and fear, while also establishing a protective patriarchal relationship.

As stated above, this effects not only how we view the information flow we live in, but it also effects how we view other individuals swimming in the flow. To turn the idea on its head a bit, if individuals can be mobilized as a group force for political concerns, as we’ve seen in the War on Terror or Tea Party rallies, than it’s not a stretch to assume that individuals can be brought together to play an active roll in bringing about change in the world, specifically through crowd-sourcing methodologies.

Grusin’s theory in “Premediation” is that we each have a technological unconscious is reinforced by the sheer volume of the information distribution in the network space and our awareness of our participation in the sharing will only grow smaller and smaller as technologies improve and information spreads. People experience a sense of connection on the web daily, whether it be the photos their share, their activity on social media platforms, their blog responses or their charitable donations (i.e. clicktovisim).

Government, corporations, and activist groups are well aware of this participatory landscape and seek out ways to exploit connectivity.  Crowd-sourcing has already been established as an effective way to direct the flow of information, so much so that people are often unaware of their contributions. The question then becomes not whether it is possible, but how using a group participation model to elicit ideas and information changes our relationship to each others and the idea of group cooperation.


Written by HiuHiMedia

March 3, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Social Media

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Pepsi and Participation

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Corporations that want to glean information from a crowd have one important job: to get the participants to care.

In this post I discussed the non-profit’s use of corporate sponsorship to draw an audience for social good, but what if it’s the corporation that is trying to attract attention?  Is it effective to use themselves as a brand? Will they be able to gain participant trust? It is widely understood that individuals will act if there is something in it for them, hence the rise of contests and prizes in crowd-sourcing efforts. However, corporations that are successful at attracting participants understand that it is more than giveaways that attract people to their cause, it is tapping into the participant’s passion and sending out an effective challenge for action.

An effective model of corporate crowd-sourcing with regards to this example is the Do Good for the Gulf, a campaign propelled by Pepsi Refresh to fund participant’s ideas for “refreshing” the Gulf Coast states effected by the oil spill.

Anyone could submit a grant proposal, large or small for voting on the Pepsi Refresh site. The grant prize was determined by the scale of the proposal, from $5,000 – $250,000, with a total of 1.3 million in grant money. Pepsi provided guidelines for the proposal and emphasized the need for timely execution of the proposal (one year). The project had a blog attached and was connected to Twitter and Facebook to promote further advertising and interaction.

The Do Good for the Gulf project was successful because the model promoted an ownership value. Participants could visualize their ideas come to life, just by making a submission and Pepsi could use their ideas to promote a feeling of connection to the community and market their product. It was a win-win. The Do Good for the Gulf campaign is one example in the PepsiRefresh social good model. There are currently 384 grants that have been funded, all through crowd-sourcing. Pepsi Corp. is an excellent example of how corporations utilize group participation. They promote their product by presenting corporate-sponsored social good campaigns that shape how individuals feel about their participatory role. Campaigns are so effective not because of product placement alone, but because they are to able to motivate people through community-based activism.

Written by HiuHiMedia

March 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm