Sunday, November 29, 2009

EE: An effective subaltern communication tool?

Dutta's critical review of entertainment education (EE) brought up good points, albeit through a very narrow and extreme viewpoint. Participation and input by subaltern groups is an important component of effective communication development but is also difficult to create and evaluate. Sometimes there are issues EE addresses that subaltern groups don't see as problems as Dutta pointed out with ideas of having large families. However, there are cultural perspectives about women's roles and discrimination against them that rural communities may not see as wrong and in instances such as that, there is a need for outside intervention and communication.

I also didn't quite agree with Dutta that moving from the goal of population control (a measurable goal) to access and inequality (very abstract) was a good recommendation. I think that listening to people and hearing their concerns first hand is extremely important but when creating development programs it is better to judge the effectiveness of a program with measurable goals compared with abstract notions of inequality.

The biggest question I had when reading Dutta's argument was what is the goal of EE in general? Is something based off of entertainment which involves expensive items like a television really a viable technique to reach the poorest of the poor? Perhaps there are other techniques more suitable for working with subaltern groups on health education than through entertainment. Dutta still highlights relevant points about the goal of aid agencies and the importance of participant input but perhaps the notion of EE as an effective tool to impact subaltern groups is misguided.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Updated Approach to Public Diplomacy

Both the Fisher article and the Corman, et al. piece are concerned with updating the antiquated message influence model of public diplomacy. However, this blog post will focus on the merits and downfalls of the pragmatic complexity model. Corman, et al. put forth the pragmatic complexity model, which proposes that "communication is a complex process of interpreting one-another's actions and making attributions about thoughts, motivation, and intentions" (page 9). The authors stress that the system of communication is under neither the sender's nor the receiver's control and that communication failures will be the norm. Although the piece touches briefly on how these two attributes of the pragmatic complexity model should not discourage people or organizations from trying to communicate their messages, I am still not convinced that, under this model, actually participating in public diplomacy or strategic communication would leave the actors better off than if they just didn't participate at all. For instance, Corman, et al. write, "once we let go of the idea of a well-ordered system that is under our control, we can start to think of what is possible in situations of uncertainty" (page 12). Well, this sounds great in theory, but the authors fail to give any concrete examples of what come of those possibilities are. Also, in a society like the US, where seeing an immediate effect is highly valued and expected, the whole premise that this model will only be successful over time will be hard for many to swallow. In the article, it is suggested that the US should try to discuss its problems and invite comparisons, rather than promote the virtues of its democracy. The authors come to the conclusion that "doing this would reproduce Western values of freedom of thought and expression and show that we are not afraid of criticism" (page 13). But to me, this is just another assumption made about how the audience will react to the new role of the US as a facilitator for public dialogue. Corman, et al. do explain how the actual communication process works in their model, but they also are open about the weakness in their model's predicting potential. Although it is obvious that receivers in the message influence model do not always interpret the message in the way that the sender envisions, the pragmatic complexity model relies on so many components in order to determine whether a communicator has succeeded or not and is basically non-falsifiable because one of the basic assumptions is that "failure is the norm" (page 11). So, if a communicator fails to succeed in his or her environment, it does not mean that there is something lacking in the pragmatic complexity model itself, but rather that this outcome is the norm.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fisher's Public Diplomacy

The Ali Fisher article on Open Source Diplomacy provided innovative insight into the various types of diplomacy, namely cathedral and bazaar. Fisher presented the objectives of Open Source Diplomacy as creative and comprehensive, geared towards achieving cooperation and conflict resolution.

The factors for success that Fisher outlines, namely creating a genuine partnership among parties and incorporating civil society into decision making, reminds me of the radio show “Talk of the Island.” This program is based in Cyprus and acts as a forum for both Cypriot communities to discuss their grievances and future resolution plans. Like Greenpeace, this organization is successful because it offers civil society the chance to become actively involved in public diplomacy and government actions. This program reflects the idea of Bazaar diplomacy by spreading information and suggestions through technology, and challenging traditional political authority; it provides “an environment for new public diplomacy.” It seems that Bazaar Diplomacy has become the prominent form of diplomacy in our increasingly interconnected world.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My A-Ha Moment!

Thank goodness for Joseph S. Nye, Jr.!!! I understood soft power and hard power thoroughly. In class, I had an idea of what was being referred to, but now I have a "working knowledge" of the terms. I now know that soft power is more than influences/persuading someone to act favorably. It includes actual enticement and attraction toward the favorable side. Hard power in my understanding deals with more overt measures, so to speak. Is psyops an example of hard power??? Then comes public diplomacy, which is utilized by governments in order to attract other countries' publics. For instance, public diplomacy is used to present a nation's cultural values via various broadcasting resources.

Nye then applied the terms. His applications were very relevant and easy for me to understand as well. Experiencing 9/11, the war on terror, and the backlash that followed via media outlets allowed me to look back and see what Nye meant when he stated that America began to rediscover the importance of soft power and the necessary investments. Once various publics, U.S. included, noticed that the "war on terror" was based upon false knowledge regarding weapons of mass destruction, etc. public opinion shifted against the Bush administration and in some case the U.S. This situation negatively effected President Bush and became a blemish of his presidency.

It is important to address the fact that today's society has almost instantaneous access to international events and the commentary that follows. Therefore, it is imperative that public diplomacy and international government practices change with the times. The PD 2.0 article addresses this idea and shows the significance of social networking sites, especially when it comes to organizing mass amounts of people quickly. On a side note, the author also suggested that PD 2.0 gives the U.S. an advantage over the terrorists. The supporting explanation was interesting because interactivity doesn't fit the extremists, but I was not totally convinced by the notion that the new technology will leave the terrorists behind.

Another point that I found interesting was when Nye stated that "preaching at foreigners is not the best way to convert them." This is interestisng becasue if I were a foreigner, I many times would feel that the U.S. is constantly preaching and trying to "force feed" me an idea. It's funny that Nye used the Bush administration as an example....
Overall, I better understand soft power and hard power. I left this as a comment on someone else blog, but I am serious: Does anyone have an example of "smart power?" :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Al-Jazeera as International Actor

Powers and Gilboa, authors of this week’s reading on the public diplomacy of Al-Jazeera, provide a comprehensive overview and understanding of the multi-leveled dynamics of Al-Jazeera, namely its role as a political actor with a specific political agenda. This article’s discussion regarding the internal and external roles of Al-Jazeera is insightful, and I found it interesting when the author’s discussed America’s tendency to ignore the internal role (discussing taboos and criticizing Arab regimes), and to focus on criticizing Arab and Muslim perspectives.

In addition to presenting insightful information, the authors encouraged me to question the meanings and uses of “democracy.” The authors argue that Al-Jazeera uses a democratic platform to project information and motives, most notably as a forum for intellects to speak freely. Although the communications approach is perhaps democratic, many Arab regimes that are represented are not democracies, thus I sensed a conflict of interests regarding the democratic politics of Al-Jazeera.

After reading this article, I did notice a similarity between Al-Jazeera and US media corporations. The authors argue that Al-Jazeera tries to portray itself as objective and non-biased, in order to have a relationship with Western nations. Yet, the media simultaneously aims to appeal to a target audience, which may support biased view points. I don’t find this synopsis of Al-Jazeera’s media intentions much different from American motivations, as our media is undoubtedly infused with biased politics, encouraging viewers to select the media output that is congruent with their beliefs.

This reading offered a broad analysis of Al-Jazeera, covering the most current and contentious issues surrounding the firm, including its reputation as a non state actor able to influence actions and opinions. The author’s encouraged me to watch Al-Jazeera and discover for myself its political agenda and influential politics.

The New Public Diplomacy

The readings for this week all dealt with public diplomacy in varying capacities. The Powers and Gilboa chapter on Al Jazeera and public diplomacy focused on the new recognition of nongovernmental actors in the public diplomacy arena, especially transnational news organizations. Joseph Nye's piece focused on how public diplomacy can most effectively be used in the modern information age with a special focus on American public diplomacy. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs John Glassman's speech outlines the specific American efforts and visions for what he dubs "Public Diplomacy 2.0," and the Monroe Price refers to these new public diplomacy efforts as information foreign policies.

What really engaged me with the Powers and Gilboa article was that they did a really comprehensive analysis of Al Jazeera looking, as the English brand identity for Al Jazeera goes, from "every angle|every side." It was interesting to me to think that Al Jazeera is trying to portray itself as a democratizing force in the region, but it's subsidized and chaired by a member of the Qatari royal family and Qatar's governmental structure is that of an absolute monarchy. But maybe this is part of what Al Jazeera hopes to change?

Another point that I found interesting in this piece was the separation of news issues between external and internal and how even though the U.S. has been known to portray Al Jazeera in a negative light, American views on what should be done to democratize the Middle East are mostly in-line with Al Jazeera's internal news agenda. The same goes for Arab governments being critical of Al Jazeera's internal news agenda and yet favoring how they frame external news issues, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the way that Al Jazeera has cultivated a credible reputation for itself within the Arabic world and beyond makes it very difficult for American or other Western governments to censor it. It looks very hypocritical for a country, which espouses all these democratic values including the freedom of speech, to call for a news organization to be shut down because of its "slant" in reporting the news.

I also wanted to comment on a common theme that has been mentioned in most of the readings for this week and last. The idea that American public diplomacy and/or international news coverage was much more organized and practiced during the Cold War. Many of the articles in the last two weeks have said things like the world is such a more uncertain place, why has US international news coverage or public diplomacy not increased, or at least remained steady, since the Cold War? I think that the conclusion of the Price reading makes a particularly important point. We are all looking back at the Cold War era now thinking, "Wow! Wasn't it so nice to only have to worry about one enemy? Wasn't it so nice to have a clearly defined objective (wiping out communism)?" I think the one thing that this perspective is missing is that at the time, the events of the Cold War seemed anything but certain or clear, and nobody knew if the public diplomacy efforts were good ideas. Price says "Prior to the Gorbachev era..., the United States... had a foreign policy toward the use of information and media that (especially in retrospect) was clearly articulated and implemented" (363). The (especially in retrospect) is very important in this case. I am not trying to say that it is OK that US media barely covers international news or that it is not important for the US to have developed and cohesive policies of public diplomacy. What I do think is that, as the old adage goes, hindsight is 20/20. The past will always seem simpler and clearer than the present or the future because we already know how things played out. However, when the past was the present, I would think that things probably seemed just as uncertain and ill-defined as they are now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Glocalization of Diplomacy

Persuading with soft power is easier said than done. Hard power is accomplished with a gun or a law but the root of soft power's influence is much less concrete. However, as the readings noted, it is just as important.

Nye notes that a country's soft power stems from its culture, values and policies. The main vehicle for transmitting this is normally public diplomacy. The most crucial resource for soft power and pubic diplomacy lies in the credibility backing it. This credibility can be undercut by illegitimate policies or culturally unacceptable points of view. If this happens, the soft power of a country is diminished and it becomes more difficult to persuade a country or government to agree with them.

However, the flex of soft power is also being used by groups such as Al Jazeera. Powers & Gilboa discuss the current perception in Arab states of Al Jazeera's credibility and its overwhelming popularity. This has brought it influence and power over the Arab and international political agenda. Powers & Gilboa call Al Jazeera a new form of public diplomacy that is "blurring of traditional distinctions between public and traditional diplomacy and between cultural diplomacy, marketing and news management."

What I found most intriguing about this discussion is that Powers & Gilboa tie Al Jazeera's success to a form of glocalization. They say it is a blend of the local Arab perspective with the global western media method and technologies in a "sign of symbolic equilibrium between the Occident and the Other." We have studied this blending of global and local with products that the global corporations are trying to sell but it was new to hear it discussed in the field of public diplomacy.

Perhaps this is the way diplomacy is moving in general. It is no longer a dictation, as James Glassman called it but a conversation. The new diplomacy conversation must absorb and involve local perspectives in order to achieve a global dialog and understanding.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The media is a rather powerful entity. Internationally, the media (television mostly) provides the world with a view/opinion of the global public sphere. The media presents various perspectives, facts, and images of many global events. Wars are frequently covered and intepreted by the media, based on this week's readings. Governments use the media as a means of transmitting its message to its citizens and the world. Focusing mostly on the United States and its "War on Terror," Bush utilized the media to shape a perception that would defuse criticsim and mobilize support of the decisions he had made and were going to make after the 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration was very successful in framing the war. They used carefully selected terms such as "coalition forces" and "liberation" when presenting to the public. This part of the process is considered an approach to media management drawn from domestic politics. Basically, the administration was spinning the information to create favorable circumstances domestically. Spinning was not just synonomous to the Bush administration. Previous presidents have utilized the same practices. It is used internationally as well. Bin Laden catered his messages on Al-Jazeera; he attempted to persuade others that America was fighting against Islam because throughout the process America had to constantly reinterate that this was not a war against Islam. The media obtains much of its news via its local government, so it should be no surprise that the government uses the media as a tool of propaganda. However, it amazes me that so many involved parties just go along with the process and many times offer questions afterwards.

CNN is a prominent supplier of television news. The CNN effect is an idea the media function as a "conduit of a politics stuck in a rut and paralysed by special interests." The CNN effect suggest that the media simply focus on things relative to conflicts, elitism, regionalism, and/or politics. An example was how German television seemed to have forgotten about the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and focused more on the Iraq War because it had a higher level of resonance internationally.

Based on this week's readings, I view international media as propaganda. Sure anything that deals with politics is subject to consisting of some type of propanda, but I am still surprised. Various international television news networks are beginning to share information that will offer a more favorable view of their home country. (i.e. Al-Jazeera shares infor with other Western television networks). It was interesting to see the stair step of how international news trickles down from the government to the news agencies, media, and consumers. New communication technologies definitely have assisted by allowing news to travel at a much faster rate, but all of the news that travels is not meaningful, or should I say its significance has been skewed. Is it safe for me to say that it isn't news unless the current presidential administration allows it to be??

Monday, November 9, 2009

Setting the Frame

With the number of political international actors increasing along with their channels for communicating, the framing of messages becomes an important part of global communications, politics and diplomacy. Hanson described framing as the meaning or interpretation that is given to events so that they can be understood. She also noted that the ability to frame was affected by cultural congruence, the degree of consensus, the amount of control and the nature of event.

Examining the response to Sept 11th provides great insight into the power of framing. Brown discusses how this catastrophe could have been framed as a law enforcement matter or a cause for war. The Bush administration chose to use words like battlefields, beachheads, assaults - laying the groundwork for the 'war on terror.' Hanson says specifically that the War on Terror was framed as an open-ended and global conflict that could be directed against any adversary.

This framing was so widespread and effective that the national newspapers and media wholeheartedly accepted the frame and bolstered its messages by mainly reporting on topics that supported it. Alternative discussions were put in the back pages of newspapers or ignored. While this approach worked well in the USA, it was a more difficult sell internationally and did encounter resistance.

In response to the US framing of the war, Al Qaeda offered their own frame - a war on Islam. They too recognize the necessity of getting people to support their movement and would specifically counter messages that the Western media presented. In this example, both sides have fully engaged in what Brown calls 'perception management.'

How the media chooses to report on these different frames is the main point of concern. How does the public see past the framing and get the actual facts especially when the media agenda has many times been set by national governments in the past. Perhaps the increase in media outlets nationally and internationally will provide a more balanced view or perhaps it will be more of the same. Hopefully, the media and public have learn from the framing and blind following of Sept 11 and seek to question government framing to form their own conclusions.


This week's readings all dealt with the new ways and effectiveness of specific interest groups, including media outlets, NGOs and governments, trying to shape news stories, especially in crisis situations. As new developments in ICTs allow these groups to more quickly and easily communicate and to more readily obtain information, they also necessitate quicker decisions and responses from these actors in leadership positions. Also, these response actions and their consequences are made even more visible to the greater public through the use of new ICTs.

As a result, gaining public support for government policies has become more essential for politicians, even as this process has become more challenging due to the abundance and diversity of news sources available. The Brown piece and the Hafez chapter both mentioned topics that I thought resonated with two widely covered news events from the last week.

In Brown's writing on shaping public opinion of the War on Terrorism, she mentions that 'perception management' is becoming an increasingly important tool of political conflict. The concept of 'perception management' can be applied to the recent attack at Fort Hood. For the last few days, American government and Armed Forces officials have made many public statements to the media about how this attack should be perceived in light of the shooters ethnic, cultural, and religious background. I think that there has been a very cautious stance by the government and the media alike when framing this unfortunate and tragic event and that no one is interested in making any hasty conclusions about how the attacker's religious faith contributed to the carrying out of the shooting.

The second event that has gotten a lot of news coverage this week, especially in the print media, has been the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As someone who has studied German for the last 10 years, I have never seen this much high-profile news coverage of ANYTHING that has to do with Germany. Even when Angela Merkel, proclaimed by Forbes in 2007 as the most powerful woman in the world, won her second term as German Chancellor last month, it was barely a blip on the American news media's radar. In the Hafez chapter, he states that during the Cold War, international issues received greater attention than in the era of globalization. I thought it was ironic then that this week the American news media just so happened to be enamored with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a throw-back (and major victory for the West) to Cold War era news.

The readings for this week really emphasize the great opportunities that governments, NGOs and media outlets now have to shape news coverage of both domestic and international events due to new ICTs. They also underscore the increased level of complexity that these actors have to deal with when gauging how their news messages will be received by audiences both at home and abroad.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Brown and Hafez

Both the Robin Brown and Kai Hafez readings stressed the importance of media in both conveying stories and in suggesting interpretations through language. Brown suggests that media is increasingly driven by a desire to produce appealing content, thus limiting the state’s role in production and utilizing professional media conglomerates to dictate story lines. This new dynamic encourages competition and urges “domestic broadcasters to offer a product that is attractive to audiences” (89). However, with an increasingly prevalent desire for appealing content, I wonder if this compromises the request for factual news media? Or can both exist simultaneously?

Just as another author has suggested in previous readings, Brown suggests that media is increasingly shaping us, along with our interpretations and assumptions. Brown emphasizes this by describing the consequences of word selection in public broadcasting. He argues that Bush’s “war against terrorism” precipitated specific connotations regarding war, religion, and terror. I agree with Brown’s hypothesis and have also noticed the influence of diction in public media. Not only does word choice demonstrate a bias, but it subtly infuses the viewer’s perception with either a positive or negative connotation.

The Hafez article discusses the national influence of media, and the partiality it creates. He uses the Olympics to comprehensively demonstrate nationalization that develops within even an international forum. However, here is where I found the two authors to differ. Where Brown discusses an increasingly international media base that threatens domestic production and encourages competition, Hafez seems to suggest that media has become too domesticized. It seems as if their arguments slightly contradicted each other, and presented an interesting debate. I haven’t yet decided which argument I agree with, but both authors present insightful arguments to support their claims.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Internet and Transnationalization

New communication technologies have and will continue to play a major role in the global society. In this week's readings, the internet and cellular phone technology contributed and ignited many social movements. Today, people can voice their opinions/discrepanices and mobilize a protest all by sitting at a computer desk or sending emails via a cell phone. A prolific example that was discussed is the ousting of Filipino President Estrada. The citizens and his administration became so upset and frustrated with his alleged corrupting behavior that he was forced to leave his office due to a protest that was orchestrated via mass text messages. Another example was the Nike "sweatshop" emails. Peretti sent an email to Nike requesting that a pair of personalized shoes be embroidered with the Nike-associated term "sweatshop." Nike officials denied the request, but Peretti forwarded the email threads. The communication threads spread vastly. Nike did not go out of business, but this example was classic because it exhibiting culture jamming. The significance of the internet technology allowed him to save his communication and send it to millions of people. In the end, Nike received negative feedback and press, and many associated the company with the unfortunate term. One last example that I want to emphasize is the North American Fair Trade Coffee Network. When I first glanced at the term, I thought it was that is beside the point. The network actually consisted of two other organizations that worked together to expose Starbucks environmentally harmful practices. All of the involved groups had individual intentions, but they all worked together for a common cause; everyone benefited. (Hanson said it best, "loose alliances of diverse groups with different agendas.") Starbucks "lifestyle" was being threatened by the coffee networks accusations that the coffee chain kills songbirds. Instead of using PR to battle the coffee network, Starbucks gave in and included the network's logo on many of its products. They also display many humanitarian posters at its locations.

The previous examples show the power that is associated with micro media, and its connection to mass media. When protests and the such become very successful via micro media collaboration, the mass media many times cover the story and the uniqueness of the events. Once this occurs, the world is exposed and becomes aware of situations occuring in Timbuktu, per se. Technology such as the internet allows for all interested parties to partake and remain informed about almost anything. The Nike incident may not have became known worldwide without the internet; it definitely would not have been common knowledge as quick. Hanson states that the internet provides the world with a bridge that connect everyone locally and globally. Coalitions can be built across great distances, and due to the internet transnational organizations have been successfully created (2008). The internet also provides a "global image" that is otherwise not available (Bennet, 2003).

This week's reading was very interesting yet informing. Who would've known that SMS was being used to ignite political movements and protests. I absolutely loved the text shorthand of the Filipino girl's friend, while she was on a date "I think ud betr go hme now!" Transnationalism...mmm think this word is more inviting that globalization..just a thought!

Hanson Chapter 6

This week's reading in the Hanson book discussed the various consequences of new ICT diffusion on the role of nation-states. Hanson does a great job in summarizing the different perspectives on how modern ICTs are affecting national sovereignty and in providing real world examples to illustrate the theories of international communication researchers.

In many of the readings we have done for this class, it is accepted as unavoidable that modern ICTs, especially the Internet, make it more difficult for national governments to control the information flows in and out of their countries, ultimately affecting the ability of national governments, particularly in authoritarian states, to effectively govern. In chapter 6, Hanson shows that this is not necessarily the case by highlighting the current ICT governance situation in China.

She notes that the Communist Party of China has attempted to control the flow of information on the Internet with an array of technical, legal, political, and psychological approaches. The restrictive infrastructure for the Internet system in China, referred to as the "Great Firewall of China," is one means of controlling this. The Chinese government also has implemented an extensive and monitoring system in order to enforce Internet regulations. Severe penalties and fines can be administered if prohibited web activities are detected. Hanson also mentions the establishment of a student-run Internet monitoring group pioneered by Shanghai Normal University. This kind of monitoring organization surprised me, since it is run by and targeted at young people. I was surprised by the effectiveness of this mechanism, since in the US, I think we are often led to believe that young people in China, especially young university students, are at the forefront of pushing for democratization and increased freedom and transparency of the Chinese government.

Although it appears that the Chinese government's strategy for regulating the content that Chinese citizens can access has kept much of the information that the government considers subversive off the Internet in China, the ability for savvy and determined Internet users to still circumvent the elaborate Chinese regulatory system exists, and as Hanson quotes one observer as saying, "total control of today's vast, borderless, redundant cyber-architecture is not possible." I wonder at what point will it become too costly for the Chinese government to maintain their expensive and complex system of Internet regulation?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Identity and Politics

The case studies presented in Castells article highlighted intriguing differences between the use of wireless media and their impact. On one hand, the ousting of President Estrada in the Philippines, defeat of the Spanish PP government and the election of President Moo-Hyun in Korea are all excellent examples of technology being used to empower social movements to affect purposeful political change. However, there were other examples of technology being used and it did not make a big difference in the outcome. With the 2004 Republican National Convention protests, Castells gives many reasons why the use of technology was not as effective. I see the most important reasons for this being the use of impersonal text-messaging systems and uncoordinated goals. The power of the first three movements lies in their person-to-person texting that created a personal connection and motivation to the issues along with a single driving issue to rally behind.

Both of these issues relate back to Bennett's idea of defining the context surrounding global activism and its impact on individualization. Increased communications are breaking down the traditional ways of defining personal identity and allowing for it to develop in new ways. One new way people are defining themselves is through associating with global protests or issues. As Bennett writes, "As identities become more fluid, and less rooted in geographical place and political time, individuals are freer and under greater pressure to invent themselves and their politics."

Politicians and activists must walk a fine line when trying to attract support to their cause. The Republican National Convention protests lacked that personal connection that people identify with and was instead based more on what Bennett calls 'old ideological activism.' Another example that Castells describes was the massive text message campaign by Prime Minister Berlusconi the night before the election. It triggered an outraged in the public who viewed it as an invasion of privacy. Again, they had no personal connection to this mass text and no way to identify with it and saw nothing in it to rally around. The Internet and wireless technology are not creating this identity but are tools that facilitate the exchange of a global political dialog.

Mobile Technology

Both Castell’s and Juris’ articles provided comprehensive outlines to the increasing significance of cell phones and mobile technology, specifically in political participation. These new forms of media promote an increase in “social engagement” and democracy. While at times politics has seemed a bureaucratic matter, especially in less democratic countries, it is encouraging that civil society can be involved and influential through the media. As is the case in the Philippines, text messaging provides a medium through which civil society can organize to create or resist change, creating a social movement in the political arena. Thus, through media, society can mobilize and use direct action for global justice. This demonstrates the power of mobile technology, a higher level of global interconnectedness, and perhaps a benefit of globalization.

Castell’s account of Berlusconi’s personal text messages, and the infusion of government into the personal sphere, reminds me of the DCAlert texts I receive. Whenever there is a traffic accident, predicted severe weather, or other emergency, DCAlert tells me so. The fact that governments and agencies use texting to reach a broad audience, demonstrate its value in sending quick messages that do not require the same preparation as other media forms. Texting is very effective in this regard because it can reach people on the move, who aren’t seated by a TV or radio.

But, as cell phones become increasingly ubiquitous and mobilizing, we must also consider the consequences that emerge. Castells notes the devastating bombings in Madrid were set off by a cell phone. And, because almost everyone can receive texts, are we also becoming increasingly vulnerable to other forms of terrorism, including phone viruses?