In chapter 6, “Drawing Lines”, Taylor describes how advertising is an important component of digital media. Media has always been advertised driven. Taylor argues about how individuals are bought with the ideal of something being free but in reality it isn’t. The attention economy focuses to sell personal information to others corporations, which labels and categorizes what individuals likes or dislikes. According to Taylor “Native Advertising” function is to adjust to the experiences of the users, specifically designed to satisfy the users, which is done by “creative strategists”. We are attracted with the ideal of things being projected as “free”, and get caught in the process, adding to more economical gain to the big corporations.
In addition, Taylor explains that because of the way that the market has distorted the content and persuading us with the latest technology. The economy has shifted of having new ways of attracting the consumers by being up-to-date and upgrading their gadget devices. Advertisement plays an important on digital media. Unfortunately, we are often unaware of the damages that we as consumers contribute too. E-waste is known as the disposal of electronic devices, gadgets, etc that in our eyes is out of fashion or as Taylor refers “ begin to look démodé” (Taylor, Loc:2841). E-waste is considered to be hazardous waste and difficult to disassemble. These are some of the new forms of economy of the digital era.
I have to agree with Taylor when she argues that “many hoped the Internet would help create a more varied cultural landscape, advertising dollars continue to distort the market by creating perverse incentives, encouraging the production of irresistibly clickable content” because I am one of many who thought that this would be the case. In fact, as I click on today, I am bombarded with “unnecessary” advertisements that interrupt my reason for visiting a site. Taylor’s definition in the book of “native advertising” explains how a site like Buzz Feed, a person would be hit with many advertisements with many different messages in order to market their product to a consumer, who may not necessarily be interested in the product but is forced to view the brand and its content in an attempt to coerce the consumer in to buying.
Another example of unnecessary advertisement or public notice would be companies collaborating with one another to form double messages that may not pertain to each other’s business, but like native advertising, force their products or services on to the reader. Tastemakers will coerce the reader of a site to see both ads and send a message that (although not connected) will have the viewer believe that both products are doubly good and therefore should be consumed. Taylor explains that Tastemakers are often partnered with Brands in order to sell things to readers. She states that “this kind of corporate saturation has long been the dream of free market acolytes” which only means that ads are being marketed freely, with or without the permission of the reader or viewer. It often puts me in the mind of television commercials, when (we) the viewer of television are interrupted by ads, yet we pay for cable television and should watch freely without interruption since we’ve paid. So, I often wonder, if we are paying cable, and the advertisers are paying cable, who wins and what are we getting as consumers, since the advertisers are getting their products and services out there, what are we actually getting.
Taylor labeled chapter 6 “Drawing a Line” and there could not be a more fitting title. How much of our private life is actually private? Where do we draw the line? What adds to it is that the majority of the time, our information is being taken and we are absolutely oblivious. “In a multipart investigation, the Wall Street Journal found that after subjects visited the Web’s fifty most popular Web sites, a total of 3,180 tracking files were installed on its test computers” (Taylor, Loc 2882). This just proves how much of our information is being tracked for purposes of advertising. We think that if we use invisible or similar settings our information would be safe. I was not aware of the lengths that they went to get our information or the amount of money spent to do so. Unfortunately, there is no proof that what we view on our computer will not be accessible by others to sell it. “It’s getting to the point where we can’t do too much about it….For the foreseeable future, there is no foolproof way to ‘opt out’ except for staying off-line altogether” (Taylor, Loc 2919). One would assume that would be an easy task but considering most people bank, shop, and gain their education from the internet, it makes it almost impossible to disconnect. It has gotten to the point where we are offered options to pay in order to avoid advertising, despite the fact that our information is still being taken. It just now holds our credit information. That aside, the amount of devices that are not properly disposed of are contributing to the amount of e-waste that is already at an incredible high. The misconception is “what these devices deliver –has been peddled as cheap and disposable” (Taylor, Loc 2864). If only that were true and the amount of waste being produced was not as high as it is.The problem is the demand for higher quality and features only increases the amount of undisposable waste.
This is a big chapter – Taylor goes in on marketing and the loss of public privacy, the ecological devastation that springs from the overconsumption of gadgetry, and the undermining of cultural value due to overproduction and planned obsolescene of the materials and tools the consumer engages with, and the emergence of the branded self as the marker of cultural capital. To get right to the point, I believe that what Taylor set’s up for the reader in chapter 6, is an understanding of what the web’s swirling economies and landscapes are actually made up of – much of the same stuff that is fueling the flesh world -hierarchical systems of inequality and waste. Referencing Marx’s “hidden abode of production,” which as many of us at this point would gather is typically revealed to be factory floor spaces or other places where the actual labor is taking place, Taylor spends the chapter bringing the “weightless rhetoric of digital technology” to a visible ground. By pointing to the “people and resources on which these systems depend” in order to de-romanticize the opaque openness of the cultural commons, Taylor breaks down what it is she means when she speaks of the “material reality [that] supports the digital commons… hardware, infrastructure, and content.”
Emphasizing the ecological impact of our consumption, Taylor argues that the hidden costs of our first world desires for the latest and greatest gadgetry position ourselves and the people who labor on these gadgets in places of victimization, although several tiers removed from one another. E-waste is not just that out of date smartphone that gets tossed in the trash – it’s the chemical components that go into its making (from minerals mined by enforced labor) and these chemicals eventually leach out into the earth and into the hands of poorer neighbors in the global south who scavenge these materials for scraps. E-waste is almost sounds like junk mail but that’s the allure of the web, this idea that even your trash will be airy and ephemeral. What is true is that here in the U.S. we do not really evaluate the long standing implications of where all that waste goes, until it shows up in our own backyards. I remember watching a documentary a few years ago that featured footage of mountainous piles of junked cellphones in a village in China, children climbing around it and playing all the while as a strange neon colored liquid seemed to stream out from the base of the pile. That’s the ecological and human impact of E-waste – mysterious neon ooze with zero regulation around it and devastating future health implications. This link highlights the impact:
On the other end of things, in our first world bubble, one of the primary ways that these corporations drive their products and the demand for such cultural capital to the dizzying height that it’s reached is through measuring the impact of the self as a commodity. “Combining the logics of engineering and capitalism, the self has become measurable and maximizable, tallied through metrics such as the number of contacts and Web hits, retweets and reblogs, five stars, ratings, likes, notes, and comments.” The logic follows that the more you participate in online platforms where your brand is cultivated, the more the agencies that calculate your value as someone who will be able to shill their products for them in the most un-shillable way. “The goal, always, is to get more – more friends, more fans, more followers…”
These people are the Tastemakers – “celebrities” propelled forward by their willingness (or in some cases ignorance of how their contribution will be manipulated) to create content that endorses products and brands that will continue to market to their targeted audiences. Their social capital is their branded self. As if there weren’t enough levels of social stratification to contend with – this is the definitely the most transparent reading of what effect these marketing strategies and tech innovations are enabling in our rapidly developing society – further inequality that alienates and separates people from doing the thing that Facebook was supposedly created for – connecting.
In chapter 6 “Drawing a Line”, Astra Taylor talks about advertising in our digital time. Advertising is everywhere no matter what you do or where you go. Now our days all advertising posts online, when before most of it was in newspapers, magazines and TV. I don’t know if it is still exist, but few years ago it used to be a newspaper, which was only for advertising.
Now, if you go online to do something, it is always advertising popping out. Crazy part is that it remembers what sites you visited and what you checked. Later advertising just comes up in a random time and usually it is something similar what you have been interesting in or saw before. It is like someone watching you behind the screen. Here comes the term “reputation silos”. This is sort of a profile made by our personal information like gender, race, religion, age and etc. “We are been sorted into “reputation silos” that can be surprisingly difficult to get of”. The bad part about it that it is illegal for the companies, for example, has all this information.
Of course we can go anywhere without our gadgets. Here is another term comes as “e-waste”. Our time is moving very fast, that’s why it always something new coming out. Every year comes lots of different gadgets. For example as soon as Apple iPhone comes out, everyone trying to get it as soon as possible. But the question is where goes all this gadgets that we don’t use any more or the one we don’t buy. This is all “garbage”, but the problem is that all this hundreds of million gadgets not recycling by people. “And so our mountains of e-waste grow three times faster than the piles of the regular garbage accumulating all around us”.
While Taylor makes some good points in this chapter, the advertising schemes she decries are not exactly new to the digital landscape. The techniques of tailored market research and targeted advertising have existed in television and print advertising for at least the last half century, perhaps most notably through Nielsen’s data collection methods for television and via survey informed advertorials in newspapers and magazines. Today these tactics simply fall under new names such as SEO and Native Advertising. What distinguishes the actual application of these new technologies is that they are individuated and tend to have a cumulative effect as the number of data points to identify a user increase. While native advertising is certainly a disreputable way to make a living as a journalist, in a way it’s an evolution of a well established practice within the field. It can be argued that this more personalized advertising has more utility for the reader, the ethics of it are highly dubious as the reader may believe they are reading earnest product or service reviews. Again, the problem here seems to have less to do with the tools in the digital milieu than it does with the normalization of exploitative practices toward consumers so prevalent in American society.
More disquieting is the creation of reputation silos within the personas created by our aggregate searches. These silos, which label users into categories of targets or waste reinforce inequality by beginning their search result steering using a fairly comprehensive, but uncritical set of data including our social relationships, our geography, our demographics and our (online) behavior. Again, however, these tactics are not new as the credit industry has used analogous methods in determining who can participate in the economy practically since its inception. What is threatening about this practice online is that it will inevitably insulate certain users from experiences in the name of personalization. Further, the lack of forgetting online means there is little opportunity to rehabilitate one’s online persona short of using private browsing services. Tailored search is useful, and in e-commerce, almost preferable, but algorithms can sometimes produce baffling results that alienate rather than reassure users.
The scary thought of the computer tracking us, seeing what we like and what we search often is described to us in Chapter 6. It becomes a disturbing reality when we see all the ways this is happening in our “attention economy.”
Taylor points out that we are in “reputation silos” (190). This means that we are labeled by what we do on the Internet and this in turn, manages what we are exposed to and what products or information we are given. This economy that we experience in the computer world is solely based off us. An example that occurred to me was when I was looking online for items to get for Mother’s Day. I was deciding on whether to get a jewelry box or earrings. After questioning my options, I had enough and exited the browser. The next day I open up to Facebook and the first thing I see as soon as I scroll down my feed is an advertisement for the same exact jewelry box I was looking at before. It was like my computer had decided for me. Skip a few months after and I still see it pop up today, like a constant reminder of that day.
Another thing that is circulating in this economy is the idea of “native advertising” (194). It’s summed up as a post that allows readers or viewers to be able to enjoy their content while also receiving a message from advertisements. In the book it states that BuzzFeed is the leader in bringing out this idea. As a dedicated viewer of BuzzFeed videos, I can say this is absolutely true. Just the other night one of the ads, on a BuzzFeed video, was a BuzzFeed video that took three couples and showed us how they drove. It was an ad for a specific car brand, but it was done in a way where you actually want to watch the ad instead of skipping it. It’s definitely eye-opening to read about the ways we get trapped in this “attention economy.”
Hybrid Assignment 04
September 29, 2015
Chapter 6 touches up on many of the different topics that we have been discussing about thus far in class, as well as in our hybrid assignments. Some of the topics include privacy, advisement, what is considered “free”, unfairness, and etc. In this new digital economy, Taylor describes many of the dilemmas that are circulating us as the target audience.
One of the problems mentioned in chapter 6 by Taylor states that individuals are being sorted into “reputation solos” which is a system that seems like a trap. Taylor mentions that once we are part of this system, it can be difficult to get out of. In addition, she also includes that in this system we are being labeled as either targets or waste. When it comes to digital media, reputation solos is a system where it depends heavily on what we are being exposed as individuals. Our information, which can be private or not, has become the target to determine the “labeling”. And with the results they make predictions on what kind of person we are as an individual. Whether it is by advertisement, collecting our date, or simply by tracking our interest, our information is being sold as the “product”
Another term Taylor mentions in chapter 6 that has been an upcoming problem in our new digital era is called “e-waste”, which she states that it can grow three times faster than the piles of regular garbage accumulating all around us. E-waste is described as discarded electrical devices, such as computer, cell phones, etc. which is NOT recyclable. This has already become a major problem in our new digital economy, and it seems as though it will only get worse by time.
Because of the power of advertising dollars, particularly those spent on targeted advertising, the Internet’s cultural landscape is not as diverse as many hoped it to be. The types of content we see on the Internet are based on our online activities, basically on our every click. Advertisers buy our information from the websites and search engines we visit, the social media network we participate in, the products we buy and/or review, the movies and videos we watch, the music we listen to, and the books, articles, stories, and news that we read and share. Advertisers invest their money on websites that are visited by a large number of audience, making sure that their messages will be read, watched, and/or heard, and eventually resulting to the audience buying their products or services. This is why it is very important for websites to produce content that are most likely to catch the audiences’ attention and clicks.
One type of online advertising is called “native advertising” in which advertisements are designed and created in a similar format, style, and tone as that of the articles on the website they are being featured on. Even the titles of the ads do not seem like they are advertisements. They actually blend in with the articles on the website, making it more likely for the users to click on them.
As we click on the content, our personal data/information is collected, shared, and sold. Additionally, we are labeled and profiled based on the information they have gathered, as well as their analysis of our online activities and interactions such as our likes on social media sites, our comments on articles or forums, the keywords we search, just to name a few. And it does not stop there. We are not only labeled and profiled, but we are also, as Taylor stated, “being sorted into ‘reputation silos’ that can be surprisingly difficult to get out of” (p. 190). This does not just affect the content and the advertisements that we see (and how they differ from our friends and other audience based on the profiles they generated for us) but in other aspects of our lives such as economically/financially (e.g. for loans or mortgage application) as well.
In chapter 6, Taylor argues that while many people hoped that the internet would bring a more varied landscape, advertising dollars have distorted the market by creating perverse incentives and encouraging the production of irresistibly clickable content. Taylor uses a term called “native advertising” to explain this phenomenon, which is basically just a fancy way of saying that one’s online behavior is monitored and therefore the products that you are exposed too are simply a result of your likes or dislikes being interpreted through the sites you frequently visit, and the items you show interest in online. The text states “product placement is on the upsurge, growing at a rate of 30 percent per year despite the recession, and branded content is all the rage. Conventional disclosure laws do not apply online or are simply impossible to enforce. This kind of stealth marketing has a corrosive effect on public discourse, institutional integrity goes out the window when editorial content adapts to advertiser demands.” In other words, the pair of shoes you were searching before didn’t just happen to pop up at the bottom of your screen because it’s the universe’s way of saying you should buy it, it popped up because we are targeted victims of advertisers.
As a result of this cultural shift, even authors have been encouraged to cultivate identities as “tastemakers” in order to capitalize on the shift to electronic reading. They are encouraged to team up with certain brands in order to market themselves to readers. Now, not only does the reader learn of a new book by his/her favorite author, but the reader is inclined to purchase that new jacket or bbq sauce that the author is promoting as well. As Taylor states ” It’s advertising system is explicitly designed to figure out which messages are most likely to grab our attention and then to place those messages in our field of view.” This is the essence of native advertising and the strategy behind “tastemakers.”