We turn our attention now to the question of mass advertising and the role of mass media. Back in The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.), I had maintained across a few relevant Entries about the need to minimize the presence of mass advertising within economic life. The methodology may have changed due to growing technological sophistication, but the aims have remained more or less the same in the century since mass advertising became feasible vis-à-vis the advent of mass communications. The goal of a conventional advertisement has been to inform the observer about the existence of a new product on sale and to convince them into buying it. What I was advocating in The Work-Standard was something different from the mundane. Advertising under the Work-Standard should place greater emphasis on providing contextual references about the product and the ways in which somebody can interact with it. In essence, make it look less like a sales pitch and more like a way of conveying information about something that may become relevant again in the future. Ideally, the presentation should be instructive yet succinct, entertaining yet impactful.
However, it would be remiss on this Author’s part to neglect mentioning the ways in which mass advertising was accompanied by mass media insofar as the latter was also a product of mass communications. A century earlier, it was common to encounter a few grand narratives from newscasters, whether “State Media” or what should be appropriately called “Commercial Media.” Where State Media is able to receive government funding at the expense of sometimes having to peddle, Commercial Media relies on its appeal for ratings in order to receive sponsorships from commercial advertisers. Both share the same characteristics of broadcasting the same content across a given area and both depend on funding from external sources. The question of funding is also where the distinction between advertisements and propaganda blurs, and this is related to the monological transmission of information employed by traditional media prior to the World Wide Web (WWW). From newspapers and radio to television and telecommunications, everyone on the receiving end gets the same content within the intended area of operation.
The two empirical case studies introduced back in the Introduction, the Kitchen Debate and the story of Samantha Smith, were made possible by mass communications applications. The former demonstrated the capability of transmitting live television recordings in color to an intended audience. That capability can be buttressed by translations and subtitles, allowing foreign audiences to be up to speed with their domestic counterparts. The latter involved a prepubescent child who went from being obscure to becoming somebody well-known among average people and political figures in the US and the Soviet Union during the early 1980s. Thanks to mass communications, anyone with an appealing personality or a talent is capable of gaining a following and become recognized for their actions.
It should be noted that both case studies predated the 1990s, back when the World Wide Web (WWW) was still a conceptual design to Tim Berners-Lee, and only universities and governments had access to its antecedents. Only after the 1990s did the role of mass advertising and mass media began to change in response to the WWW, as the WWW would later facilitate the advent of “Social Media.” Rather than a monological transmission of information, Social Media allowed the target audience to engage with the original sender and send them their personal responses to the content. The audience may be expected to receive some form of reception from the sender, whether directly or indirectly. In either case, Social Media has set the precedent in which media applications can be personalized to suit an individual observer.
The implications of Social Media are major in relation to the two empirical case studies. It is now easier for anyone to develop an overnight personality and a following from an engaged audience, something that was not possible in the late 1950s or the early 1980s. Yet at the same time, mass advertisers have had to readjust themselves to the implications of Social Media that raise important questions about personal information in the digital realm. Their efforts have succeeded in personalizing advertisements to suit an observer’s personal preferences based on information gathered about that observer. On Social Media, whatever someone says, writes, or does something, it leaves a lasting impression on whoever happens to encounter it. The reverse is true for the observers themselves, whose web searches and preferences can be used by advertisers to create personalized advertisements sourced from their own personal information.
If the fundamental problem of State Media and Commercial Media steams from its funding, the problem for Social Media is related to its personalizing. Both problems reveal a challenge that says a lot more about how the Self interacts with the Totality and how both transmit information through written, pictorial, verbal, or audiovisual means. Put another way, I am talking about the flow of information circulating between the State, the Totality, and the Self. But in this context, I am not necessarily referring to the freedom of expression or the role of censorship. Instead, I am referring to something else with implications for the Socialist Nation’s National Intranet, Council State, VCS Economy, and SSE. When we discuss the role of mass media and mass advertising in another Entry in this treatise, I will refer back to these three questions and conclusions posited below.
Where do we expect to find all the key distinctions in any content created by the Self, the Totality, or the State? In Production for Dasein, there is in fact a fine line separating the Authenticity and Inauthenticity of mass media and mass advertising. For the Self, their media needs to reflect their personality and their personal style. For the Totality, it has to reflect the characteristics of its many different members. And for the State, it has to reflect the national culture, tradition, customs and social norms that bind the Self to the Totality.
How is the process of creating content by all three relate to Arbeit and Geld? Here, the legal concept of the “Work-World,” the broad range of different activities compatible with the LER Process, seeks to define the “Domains,” activities already known to be applicable to the LER Process, from an array of non-economic and non-financial activities. Anything contributing Arbeit and generating Geld for the Life-Energy Reserve has its own Domain. Anything not creating Arbeit and Geld does not have a Domain because it is considered to not have any real Value.
Why is State Media not the only form of mass media within the broader Domain for mass communications applications? The State cannot be the sole creator; the Totality and the Self are just as capable of creating Arbeit and Geld from their own content. This entails the need for a standardized system of rules and regulations to set the parameters for all media disseminated. There are certain qualifications that has to be met before they can be added to the Domain of mass communications applications.
I have yet to unveil the new terminology to describe the types of media created by the Totality and Self. The significance of the terminology has much to do with of the SSE and its form of media, something that has to be discussed in another Entry in The Third Place.
Categories: Third Place