Do artifacts have politics? YouTube Use of YouTube: The us occupation of Iraq



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  • Technologies can’t only be judged by their productivity, effectivity, positive or negative effects, environmental side effects...

  • Technologies can embody forms of power or authority.

  • Technologies are interwoven in the conditions of modern politics.



Social determination of technology

  • Social determination of technology

  • Technological determinism

  • Theory of technological politics

  • 2 ways of having political properties:

  • 1. technical arrangements as forms of order

  • 2. inherently political technologies



  • Technical arrangements as forms of order

  • Technologies are made (not) consciously to make social order in society. After a while they are accepted as normal: we don’t think about them.

  • Technologies are not always used for efficiency, but sometimes for more power: the domination over other, even if this means less efficiency.



Robert Moses – bridges on Long Island, New York

  • Robert Moses – bridges on Long Island, New York



Cyrus McCormick

  • Cyrus McCormick

  • manufacturing plant

  • Medieval spiral staircases

  • Student rooms in Paris

  • Not only individual inventions to

  • conspire against others!



  • Inherently political technologies

  • The adoption of a given technical system unavoidably brings with it conditions for human relationships that have a distinctive political cast.

  • Certain kinds of technology ask for certain particular politics (practical).



Required or better?

  • Required or better?

  • Moral and political issues are already in our social system. Do workers need to have power in a factury? Do we need democracy in a company?

  • We can never say it’s required, because we are talking about human societies, but sometimes it would be better.



Video sharing website

  • Video sharing website

  • Users can upload, view and share video clips.

  • Other examples: Google Video, MySpace and Revver

  • History: created by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim in February 2005.

  • Currently YouTube is owned by Google.



“Me at the zoo” is the title of the first video ever posted on YouTube, uploaded by Jawed Karim.

  • “Me at the zoo” is the title of the first video ever posted on YouTube, uploaded by Jawed Karim.

  •  Video 1

  • YouTube is the leader in online video-sites. In February 2007 YouTube was the fifth most visited website in the world!

  • YouTube is the first destination to watch and share original videos worldwide through the Internet.



YouTube has re-adjusted our understanding of how production, distribution and exhibition can work.

  • YouTube has re-adjusted our understanding of how production, distribution and exhibition can work.

  • Regular people can produce and distribute their own material to a wider world now. Before this was not possible.

  • YouTube = internet phenomenon



  • Many people have become known by the rise of YouTube.

  • Examples:

      • Lonelygirl15
      • Susan Boyle (Britain’s got talent 2009)
      •  Videos 2 & 3
  • In the end: “new media” are simply old media products.

  • Copyright problems



  • How has YouTube changed the way we look and think about media?



The aim of the article:

  • The aim of the article:

  • In the words of the author:

  • It is intended as a first step toward reconsidering the nature of propaganda in an era of online media, open-access video-sharing and simplified production and distribution.”



  • On March 2007 the United States Defense Department opened a channel on website YouTube

  • MNFIRAQ (Multi National Force-Iraq):



The fact that YouTube and other video-sharing sites should be part of the US State Department’s “public diplomacy” talks about how quickly those media entered into the popular, political, and now military consciousness.

  • The fact that YouTube and other video-sharing sites should be part of the US State Department’s “public diplomacy” talks about how quickly those media entered into the popular, political, and now military consciousness.

  • The dominance of traditional, centralized and hierarchical modes of information spreading, public diplomacy and propaganda are no longer guaranteed.



Propaganda:

  • Propaganda:

    • “The deliberate, systematic attempt to shape, manipulate and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist”
  • Propaganda >> “Public diplomacy”

    • Van Ham: “Public Diplomacy is the result of conceptual shift on how the USA conducts international affairs: from the realpolitic to noopolitic.


Realpolitik: military or economy beating

  • Realpolitik: military or economy beating

  • Noopolitik: Whose story wins?

  • Most civilians experience military conflict>> through the signs and symbols of its depiction.

    • Material presented in the mainstream media
  • YouTube:

    • Multi-directional
    • Allows multiple sender-receivers
    • Different points of view


  • Purcell:

    • For militaries across the globe, justification of their existence, gaining legitimacy in societies, and expressing power, the internet is a new terrain of contestation. The symbolic presence of a website connotes several things to casual browsers:
      • Modernity;
      • Understanding of modern communications and technology;
      • Openness to communication and transparency;


The used method:

  • The used method:

  • 41 videos analyzed:

    • 29 from MNFIRAQ
    • 13 from various other YouTube channels opposite to the MNFIRAQ
    • Notes were made regarding:
      • 1-The primary subject/theme of the clip
      • 2- Upload date
      • 3-Length
      • 4-Number of views
      • 5-Miscellanious observations and factors


MNFIRAQ: presenting the “clean war”

  • MNFIRAQ: presenting the “clean war”

  • All the videos fall in three categories:

    • 1-Street fighting and gun battles
    • 2-Surgical warfare
    • 3- Good deeds
  • Category 1: street fighting and gun battles

      • Prototipical
      • Don’t show the target
      • US troops calm and collected
      • If they show targets: buildings or inanimate subjects


Category 2: surgical warfare

  • Category 2: surgical warfare

      • US and coalition troops seek out and destroy selected targets, minimum amount of visible human causalities.
  • Category 3: good deeds

      • Feel good material
      • Create the impression that the US military has a good rapport with Iraqi civilians
  • Video 4: Bagdad firefight



Opposing views: presenting a “dirty war”

  • Opposing views: presenting a “dirty war”

  • They generate the greatest sense of dissonance

    • They come from different sources
    • The majority of them were shoot by the US coalition themselves
  • Divided in the same 3 categories

  • Category 1. Street fighting and gun battles

    • Troops less than cool
      • Comments expressing the pleasure


Category 2. Surgical warfare

  • Category 2. Surgical warfare

      • Provide violent disturbing images
      • Show US forces using high powered ammunition against humans
      • Violation of the Genova Convention
  • Category 3. Good deeds

      • US soldiers laugh at Iraqi children
  • Video 5: British troops beating young Iraqis on camera



Thoughts and results of the study

  • Thoughts and results of the study

  • The clips on the channel are clear effort to win “hearts and minds”>> NOOPOLITIK

  • The YouTube site does not adhere to traditional forms of distribution the propaganda: because it makes impossible to control: PROPAGANDISTIC DISSONANCE

  • Propagandistic dissonance: when alternative videos of US troops appear side-by-side with the MNFIRAQ clips when searching the YouTube

  • Shocking videos: more impact?



According to C. Christensen’s article “For many, British is better” (2004), there has been “a broader dissatisfaction on the part of the American public with the state of the press in the United States” (pg. 23)

  • According to C. Christensen’s article “For many, British is better” (2004), there has been “a broader dissatisfaction on the part of the American public with the state of the press in the United States” (pg. 23)

  • New media technologies allow people to choose which news sources to read

  • This had lead to a rise in intake of alternative media sources such as The Guardian‘s online edition, the BBC, and PBS.



Press in the United States

  • Press in the United States

  • Network News in the U.S. is seen as commercialized and Nationalistic, with an uncomfortably close relationship with journalists and the military

  • CNN has experienced a decline in ratings following the September 11th attacks

  • Fox News has become a poster for what is wrong with journalism in the United States



  • Main Issues with U.S. Press

  • According to C. Christiansen,

  • 1. Excessive focus on U.S. interests

  • 2. Uncritical attitude toward unilateral power

  • 3. Belief in the infallibility of the free market



The Gap

  • The Gap

  • Free market provides a gap in journalism

    • “Despite all the hype surrounding the “democratic” nature of the free market, many in the U.S. simply cannot find the information they are looking for” (C. Christiansen, pg.27)
  • Journalists who are skeptical of policies in government and politics are accused of ‘supporting the terrorists’ and ‘hurting moral’

  • Ownership Issues may play a part

    • ABC (Disney)
    • NBC (General Electric)
    • CBS (Viacom)
    • FOX (News Corp)


British media sources are gaining popularity in the U.S.

  • British media sources are gaining popularity in the U.S.

  • The Guardian

    • 40% increase in online readers from the U.S. since the start of the Iraq War
    • Clear in its position on the war, no illusions made
    • Provides new perspectives on events
  • Assumed to be accessed by politically liberal Americans



Technology and Politics

  • Technology and Politics

  • Technology such as the Internet allows for access to alternative news sources

  • Al Jazeera English http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/

    • English version of 24-hour Arabic news network Al Jazeera
    • Staffed by many former BBC World Service employees
    • Limited access to station in the U.S. without aid of technology


  • New media technologies also a tool in political news

  • Barack Obama Twitter feed http://twitter.com/barackobama

    • Campaign tool
    • News provided to public who follows his twitter feed


  • Do you believe more in the technical determinism or the social shaping of technology?

  • What do you think the future of YouTube is?

  • Do you think new media has an effect on politics?





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