Tallk's Blog: A discussion of IC

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Comm Products and Change in the DPRK December 3, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 10:22 am

As everyone that knows me is aware, I’m deeply interested in North Korea. I find it all fascinating: foreign policy, America’s involvement, the Regime, and in particular the markets and the rise of cultural products, and the telecommunication industry.

I’m actually working on a paper in relation to the later two of that list. Many North Korean scholars have high hopes that through the use of the markets with access to cultural and communication products like South Korean dramas, Chinese TVs that can pick up Chinese broadcasts, radios, etc, that there will be a change from the ground up. Meaning that there will be examples of civic unrest leading to the ultimate goal: democracy.

This will be a long and hard fight, but there are examples of change from within the Regime that are tolerating the capitalist market ventures, and allowing forms of advertising, mostly small billboards, to be present. Advertising is an increasingly capitalist concept, so one can only believe that the country truly is changing via the capitalistic enterprise of the markets.

The telecommunication industry also has a large amount of foreign investment to rebuild the failing infrastructure. Orascom, an Egyptian company is investing up to $400 million in a 3G-cell phone system that would be quite comparable to the international standard with SMS, voice mail, and call waiting, etc capabilities. This is exciting as well for multiple reasons. Orascom has developed the largest advertising campaign, well really the only advertising campaign in North Korea, with an information basis to teach the citizens about the products, and how to use them. Also, in Castell’s article “The Mobile Civil Society,” it is discussed how the citizens in the Philippines used their cell phones to ultimately oust the President. It can only be hoped that events like this could begin in the DPRK. And lastly, for when the Regime finally does fall, it doesn’t hurt the rest of the world that part of the society is up to date for economic reasons.

Sure this hope for democracy seems like a long shot, especially through the “use” of items such as South Korean dramas, and radio broadcasts that are illegal for the North Koreans to hear. This is the best hope for a change within the civil society that could prompt large-scale reform. If anything, it gives the world diplomacy options for how to start the progress, at a time that it appears North Korea needs it.


Hilldog and the Giant November 18, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 11:50 pm

For this blog obviously I was going to write about public diplomacy, but I didn’t want to make the typical run of the mill “America does it bad” or “soft power is blah blah” statement. Yet I was struggling trying to come up with an idea. I google imaged for some inspiration and found a lovely cartoon that I think illustrates the truth in American PD. To me it illustrates that obviously American public diplomacy exists…but it is greatly overshadowed by the military and government actions.


Then I returned to the weekly reading and found a great quote: “The soft power of a country rests primarily on three sources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority)” – Joseph Nye. This is a very interesting statement that makes logical sense in terms of the components of soft power. Obviously these three components are all drastically related, but personally I think that the political values are the most dominant component, specifically in relation to the government living up to what they say they do abroad. That provides evidence of the moral authority and in turn makes the culture more attractive abroad.


Then after still not feeling finished with the blog, and while chatting with a friend in med school (who is very politically savvy), I asked for inspiration for my public diplomacy blog. The response was somewhat amusing:

Ashley: Write my public diplomacy blog.

TJ: What’s that?

Ashley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_power

TJ: OH Hilldog does that all the time!

Ashley: haha yeah she does.


I want to say that this lack of awareness is reflective of soft power. In ways I think it’s true…the American public isn’t directly involved with most forms of American PD, unless they are in the elite few that study abroad, join the peace corps, or are a scholar (and this way Hilldog wouldn’t be doing it all!)

From these three sources I conclude that in order for American public diplomacy to make a larger impact it needs American military and government practices to live up to what they say they will abroad. That provides evidence of the moral authority and in turn makes the culture more attractive abroad, reassuring the three main components of PD. In doing this, PD will also gain a larger share of the foreign world’s viewpoint and the military will not be such a giant on the forefront of international perceptions. Lastly, there needs to be more examples of direct engagement from the American public. This is one of the best ways to enact PD and without it occurring it continues the government/military giant perception.


The Truth Hurts November 12, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 4:37 pm

In 1963 in a testimony before a Congressional Committee, Edward R. Murrow, who was the Director of USIA, stated: “American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.”

Public diplomacy has often been under debate. Typically, with America being the world superpower,  American officials have not seen the need for public diplomacy. It was widely used during the Cold War in an attempt to counter balance the Soviet Union and their diplomacy efforts. After that, it was drastically reduced, and the opinion of America became bad through most parts of the world (aka 9-11 happened).  At this point, America realized the value of public diplomacy and reinvested money.

This is where it gets interesting, think back to the Murrow statement. America needs to be truthful to gain a good public image abroad. The Iraq war started, and its intentions were completely unrelated to why the media and government officials said we were going to war. This created huge amounts of dislike for America, from countries that typically do agree with us, let alone the ones that already don’t like us! The best part of this all, is that the American public diplomacy acts were unveiled to be not credible or truthful stories. Leaked classified documents admitted the U.S government were planning on planting news items in foreign news, falsifying the foreign news, and sending journalists pro-U.S. news stories. This department was quickly closed, however similar stories were leaked a few years later of the military doing similar acts.

This undermines the entire point of being truthful that Murrow makes!  In order to eventually gain a more positive public America is going to have to be much more truthful. With as much transparency that there is now, and with the huge possibility of things like wikileaks occurring, it’s time to step up the game, and be the honest truthful international player.


ICT’s in NK November 4, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 6:41 pm

In theory ICT’s are a great thing. They allow communication among the masses, and have often been used for social activism. However, due to their ability to be monitored, authoritarian government systems have obviously watched these communication tools and reacted to the social activism.

A good example of this is the supposed Twitter Revolution in Iran. Twitter was utilized to promote younger people to get out and vote and was quickly facing problems from the government. The government even shut down the Internet in an attempt to control the activism.

My interest lies in ICT’s in North Korea. They’re a very hard country to imagine having ICT’s due to the extreme authoritarian Regime rule. As the country progresses, however, they are becoming slightly more liberal with their communication tools. For example, there are now North Korean email systems. However they of course are highly monitored. Cell phones are also becoming very large commodities in North Korea. Cell phone use picked up in the early 2000s, but one was used as a bomb, so they were quickly taken away from citizen’s use. (It was rumored that the bomb was an assassination attempt at Kim Jong-Il.) However in 2007 Egyptian company Orascom joined forces with the North Korean government to create a new cell phone service. According to Orsacom’s website, these will be capable of call conferencing, sms texts, call waiting, voice mail, etc. Again, these I’m sure will be highly monitored. But at least they have the access. Many North Korean scholars hope that access to communication tools such like these will create more social activism and a more democratic society. I think these ICT’s will hopefully be the key to opening up North Korea.



Of course we would think English! We’re Americans! October 21, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 4:37 pm

As the world globalizes we distinctly fall into more networks. There is no denying that the world is a network society, and as more and more networks link and merge a new set of social norms emerge. I find this to be quite interesting.

In the reading there was a little story about if you were in New York City and are meeting friends (in the day before cell phones, or if you lost your cell phone) where would you attempt to meet up with them? Apparently the social norm is Grand Central Station and also at noon. I understand noon, however Grand Central Station…not so much. The article continues to ask some other social norm examples such as “Suppose you are invited to an international business conference, and it wasn’t specified where it was and you didn’t know what language would be spoken there. What language would you assume would be spoken there? English, precisely.” My first reaction was “we’re Americans, of course we’re going to be ethnocentric and think English!” I mean and the fact of the matter is I would even include myself in that negative phrase and admit I’d think English.

Apparently, however, this was tested in Mumbai and English was also the answer there. This to me is the interesting part. I would think that one would immediately think his or her language would be the practical answer since that is what they communicate in on a daily basis, but along with this social norm a lot of the world speaks English on a regular basis. It’s just hard to fathom that our culture for the most part has created the norm.This of course all goes back to American Imperialism in cultural products and being the economic hegemony resulting in creating a standard for the norm.

It would be nice to gain some societal norms that occur world over. For example, recycling programs like in Europe could be adopted all over the world and dramatically reduce waste and open up jobs. Industry environmental standards could be adopted and again create jobs and lead to a better planet. Maybe since most of the norms tend to come from America, we should start the practice of these types of norms now.


The New Flattery October 14, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 4:52 pm

During this class so far we have continuously been bringing up the use and modification of copyrighted information. Discussing this to this degree is quite a new experience for me. In my undergrad years I was an art major. We of course discussed copyrighted material but under the fair use premise. According to the fair use information on the University of Maryland University College’s website, “students may incorporate portions of copyrighted materials when producing a project for a specific course.” This was how it was expressed to us. It was also illustrated that once you were no longer a student this was deemed unacceptable. However, in this day and age of the ongoing convergence culture, this is continuing to happen. Essentially a large portion of this culture is due to this copyright infringement. An interesting alternative to this was the creative comments licensing. Essentially this allows use of copyrighted information but in specific instances. So in other words it sort of extends the fair use allowance for students to everyone given the right pretext.

But there are some cases where great work comes out of appropriation, for example, Shepard Fairy’s “appropriation” of a picture of Obama. 

The left is the AP picture that Fairy based his entirely new work on, and the right is Fairy’s own interpretation. Yet due to the AP photographer wanting more money and to be associated with the picture, Fairy was stated as appropriating it and actually got into some legal issues. Basing your new work of art on an existing picture, etc, is a common method taught in art school. The only reason this example became so in the public eye was due to the fact that this picture became the face of the Obama campaign.

Overall I think that copyright infringement for something that is at least 70 percent “new work” is a bit ridiculous. I think that most items should be granted a creative comments license that allows for the new work to use the original creative product. Shouldn’t it just be a form of flattery that someone likes your work enough to incorporate it into his or hers? I would think so, but then again I’m not a big business only looking for more money and a less creative world to challenge the company’s creative department.


The Good Piracy. October 8, 2010

Filed under: Posts by Ashley — zabc21 @ 4:21 pm

Piracy has always been a subject of controversy. Copyright owners, mainly large media companies, are highly against piracy, due to the massive loss of profits. Large- scale anti-piracy campaigns are enforced yearly. However, according to the Mattelart article, piracy is ultimately a good thing. Many third world countries and specifically developing countries have gained access to media that they otherwise would not have. This is the case with Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Russia. This phenomenon started mostly in the 1980’s with smaller media’s such as videocassettes and of course the rise of globalization.

I think this is a very important affect of piracy. Without these cheaper versions there’s no way these populations would have possibly had this degree of access. The only negative of this (besides the loss of profit in the media companies minds) is the fact that the media predominantly pirated is American. This non-demographic of the media groups still ultimately became consumers of American imperialism.

An interesting side-note case of this is North Korea, the supposed isolated country. There’s no denying it is for the majority a closed society; however, as the lack of food has grown larger the citizens have resorted to other modes of obtaining said food. You may be wondering how this relates to media piracy! Well as the need for new ways to find food emerged, markets sprung up all over the country. In these markets pretty much anything can be found, food, Japanese electronics, and even Korea dramas to play on these Japanese electronics. These pirated dramas run about 3 dollars a piece. This is one of the few ways that North Korean citizens are able to fully reach the outside world. Overall piracy here appears to be partially fueling a growing market and also changing the closed off society.