Prepping for NCA Convention

This summer, I was notified that my proposal to present at the coming National Communication Association annual convention has been accepted. It was a paper I developed for a mass communication research methods course last year. I must confess that I am really excited for this is my first (national) conference in the communication discipline. In the past, I have been attending local and national conferences pertaining to rhetoric, computers and composition studies; this will be a rather different context as I suppose the audience has shifted from humanists to social scientists. I am spending these couple of nights leading to the conference prepping for my presentation delivery.

Since the presentation format is an interactive scholar-to-scholar configuration, I have remediated my paper into a poster. See below:

NCA Scholar to Scholar

Please let me know if you have any suggestions to make this presentation better. Thanks!

Vine: Redefining Racial Stereotyping in Six Seconds

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Vine debuted earlier this year and has become the most popular video-sharing mobile app today. Unfortunately, the technology has been misused to reinforce racial stereotyping, causing ethical issues that need to be considered and addressed by media practitioners.

Check out the video clip below.

Here is a work-in-progress ethics paper I am developing for a media ethics course this semester. This essay seeks to explore and examine the racist aesthetic in one of the most popular social media today, Vine. By identifying the likeness between Vine and early minstrelsy, and by scrutinizing the identification process in racial stereotyping, this article considers the ethical dimensions in the video-sharing app as a new stage from racial comedy. I also seek to establish strategies for confronting stereotyping on social networking platforms based on three major ethical theories in moral reasoning, namely deontological, teleological, and virtue theories. Following are some excerpts from my paper:

… when Viners are forced to strip off the less necessary scenes of their video, they eliminate some important elements that are essential to telling a complete story. This becomes problematic in ethnic humor, as racist or stereotypical jokes may be perceived out of context.

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In many ways, these Vine videos with racial overtones and negative stereotypes are simply technologically refined minstrels, which mock Black culture as uncivilized. The “Black vs. White” dichotomy further reinforces tension between the oppressed and its dominator.

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Cultural studies scholars believe meanings are always constructed within the range made possible by institutional frameworks. They then are reconstructed as people use them in their particular social situations. “The meaning that any object has at any given time is a contingent, historical achievement” (du Gay, 1996). Hence, a critical look at any demeaning behaviors, either by the members of the marginalized culture or by others, is crucial to developing strategies for intervention.

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A deontological perspective would object any act of prejudice or discrimination, including racial stereotyping. As the universal moral standard according to a Kantian maxim of “do not deceive,” Viners’ stereotypes would be deemed demeaning and thus shall be avoided.

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A teleologist would concur that racist jokes on Vine help marginalized cultures to gain popularity and normalize themselves among White supremacy.

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… an Aristotelian approach to confronting racial stereotypes on Vine may be to allow Viners to continue sharing racial sensitive content while requiring Vine to provide a warning for mature content and an option for Viners to report inappropriate content.

Read the full paper below.

PS: The document will be updated as the semester goes. Check back by late December if you’re interested in reading the final draft.

Image by insidemobileapps.com

Considering Audience, Message, and Action in Social Advertising

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Audience theory has been in existence since the emergence of mass communication/media studies. In fact, the best way to measure the success of any message is to gather audience feedback. However, in traditional advertising, the audience is simply the group of individuals that advertisers are interested in speaking to. They can be grouped or segmented by demographic and psychographic properties. However, in the social media world, audiences share connectedness and a sense of community among online users (Gangadharbatia, 2012). Audiences on social media usually organize themselves into clicks and groups, which can be an advantage for advertisers in segmenting and identifying potential target market.

Another distinction in social media audience, from their traditional counterparts, is the erasure of boundaries – both time and space. When considering communication strategies for the social media platforms, advertisers and marketers should pay attention to the limitation and opportunities for conversations in the open webspace.

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Similar to audience theory, several message theories exist that explain how information propagates in a traditional media context. The two-step flow model of communication and opinion leadership are examples of these. However, these concepts could be adapted to study online advertising. For social media “there are fewer or no gatekeepers, and the barriers to entry are relatively low” (Gangadharbatia, 2012). Hence, brands and organizations are forced to become more open and transparent. Even so, communication strategists should continue to explore ways to engage audience in their marketing plans. As technology makes it easier to create and share content, many creative strategies involve user-generated content and audience participation.

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Erik Qualman (2009), author of Socialnomics, said that individuals no longer look for information; rather, information finds individual on social media (Gangadharbatia, 2012). This changes our traditional perception of how the message propagates through the channel – social media users have more control than traditional media users, and information presents itself in individuals based on different social contexts. [Note to self:] While collecting user perception of online/social advertising, it is important to remember its differences from traditional media message propagation and the actions it may incur.

Image (top-bottom): Appitive, theconversationprism, buzzshift

Advertising Online: A MAIN Model Perspective

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“Build it and they will come” was an early assumption about how online marketing works. Today, most advertising agencies and marketing departments have their respective web teams devoted to creating and managing online advertising and marketing effort. The website, often seen as the home(page) to any product or service, tend to be overlooked as simply a medium that delivers the ad content, one that gives form to the ad or campaign. Marshall McLuhan in his pivotal theory – the medium is the message (and the massage) – urges advertisers to focus not just on the content but the medium of the content. “Media technology is not a mere vacant channel” but rater giving context to the message and shape people’s perception of the information presented (Sundar, Xu, and Dou, 2012).

In accounting the role of technology in online persuasion, Shyam Sundar (2008) theorizes the MAIN Model which classifies the affordances into four broad categories: Modality (M), Agency (A), Interactivity (I), and Navigability (N). The following figure illustrates the cognitive heuristics of each affordance, which would affect consumers’ attitudes as well as behavioral intentions toward a product or service.

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The MAIN Model offers a fertile theoretical framework to understand the role of technology in online advertising and marketing. Needless to say, the medium is not the only factor to consider when investigating the effectiveness of social advertising. Another aspect of advertising that should be given serious deliberation is the audience. (Forthcoming entry.)

Cover image courtesy of Dribbble.s3.amazonaws.com.