Author Topic: Unbleached Branding Displacement  (Read 2521 times)

Triple Zero

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Unbleached Branding Displacement
« on: June 30, 2011, 10:43:14 am »
Wasn't going to let this really meaningful/interesting bit of discussion be drowned in a sea of bleach.

Dunno if there's much more to say on the topic, otherwise it's just salvaged.

A lot of what I object to about commercial branding is that many people use brands to define themselves, and I think this leads to a really shallow form of identity.

But how is this anything new?  Tribal politics have long established that pack status is signaled through decorative clothing.

Mm, my grammar could have been better there. The problem IMO is the shallow form of identity / engagement with culture that it leads to. Our obsession with images and signifiers is a distraction from actual substance.

Quote
The problem, as I see it, isn't that marketers have tied a tribe to a brand and to a price tag.  It's that most humans aren't self-aware enough to choose what tribe they want to be in.

'zactly.





from Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs

More recent is the notion that the public mind is being colonized by corporate phantasms---wraithlike images of power and desire that haunt our dreams. Consider the observations of Neal Gabler and Marshall Blonsky:
Quote
Everywhere the fabricated, the inauthentic and the theatrical have gradually driven out the natural, the genuine and the spontaneous until there is no distinction between real life and stagecraft. In fact, one could argue that the theatricalization of American life is the major cultural transformation of this century.


 We can no longer do anything without wanting to see it immediately on video...There is never any longer an event or a person who acts for himself, in himself. The direction of events and of people is to be reproduced into image, to be doubled in the image of television. [T]oday the referent disappears. In circulation are images. Only images.


 The eutopic (literally, "no-place") territory demarcated by Gabler and Blonsky, lush with fictions yet strangely barren, has been mapped in detail by the philosopher Jean Baudrillard. In his landmark 1975 essay, "The Precession of Simulacra," Baudrillard put forth the notion that we inhabit a "hyperreality," a hall of media mirrors in which reality has been lost in an infinity of reflections. We "experience" events, first and foremost, as electronic reproductions of rumored phenomena many times removed, he maintains; originals, invariably compared to their digitally-enhanced representations, inevitably fall short. In the "desert of the real," asserts Baudrillard, mirages outnumber oases and are more alluring to the thirsty eye.

 Moreover, he argues, signs that once pointed toward distant realities now refer only to themselves. Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A, which depicts the sort of idyllic, turn-of-the-century burg that exists only in Norman Rockwell paintings and MGM backlots, is a textbook example of self-referential simulation, a painstaking replica of something that never was. "These would be the successive phases of the image," writes Baudrillard, betraying an almost necrophiliac relish as he contemplates the decomposition of culturally-defined reality. "[The image] is the reflection of a basic reality; it masks and perverts a basic reality; it masks the absence of a basic reality; it bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum."

 Reality isn't what it used to be. In America, factory capitalism has been superseded by an information economy characterized by the reduction of labor to the manipulation, on computers, of symbols that stand in for the manufacturing process. The engines of industrial production have slowed, yielding to a phantasmagoric capitalism that produces intangible commodities--- Hollywood blockbusters, television sit-coms, catchphrases, jingles, buzzwords, images, one-minute megatrends, financial transactions flickering through fiberoptic bundles. Our wars are Nintendo wars, fought with camera-equipped smart bombs that marry cinema and weaponry in a television that kills. Futurologists predict that the flagship technology of the coming century will be "virtual reality," a computer-based system that immerses users wearing headsets wired for sight and sound in computer-animated worlds. In virtual reality, the television swallows the viewer, headfirst.







This is kind of a tangent, but the emotion which this topic brings to the forefront is the sense of uncertainty and bewilderment that I think we're all riding these days.

the first thing that comes to mind as an exemplar is the conflict between anonymous and lulzsec

and it might be a real conflict
or it might have been engineered by the ringmasters who have snuck into their ranks

Even if it's a real conflict, I have no doubt that its engineering was discussed by the private security firms which seek to discredit and rebrand anon, wikileaks, and all the other "hacktivist" groups who are getting all grabass cowboy about data. It's really easy to make vague decentralized groups look like they're fighting. And making it LOOK like they're fighting will inevitably lead to them fighting.

So how seriously am I supposed to take this conflict? Am I supposed to treat it like it's real? Am I supposed to dismiss it like a bad photoshop job? I just don't know. So many groups are signaling things, who the fuck knows whats really going on. anywhere.







BUt this means you're getting upset at the symptom, not the cause.  Getting mad at marketers for leveraging the masses' lack of introspection is missing the point, in my opinion.

I don't agree I shouldn't be mad at marketers whose techniques facilitate behavior I think is disgusting.


I mean, I guess the root cause is that people are easily distracted and manipulated, but I feel like complaining about human nature is a large waste of breath.


By drawing attention to manipulative marketing techniques, you can help people resist them.



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Reginald Ret

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2011, 01:03:06 am »

Quote from: Cramulus
Reality isn't what it used to be. In America, factory capitalism has been superseded by an information economy characterized by the reduction of labor to the manipulation, on computers, of symbols that stand in for the manufacturing process. The engines of industrial production have slowed, yielding to a phantasmagoric capitalism that produces intangible commodities--- Hollywood blockbusters, television sit-coms, catchphrases, jingles, buzzwords, images, one-minute megatrends, financial transactions flickering through fiberoptic bundles. Our wars are Nintendo wars, fought with camera-equipped smart bombs that marry cinema and weaponry in a television that kills. Futurologists predict that the flagship technology of the coming century will be "virtual reality," a computer-based system that immerses users wearing headsets wired for sight and sound in computer-animated worlds. In virtual reality, the television swallows the viewer, headfirst.

These books immediatly pop into my head:
How could virtual reality be used to re-popularize physical productivity? (no where near the main subject of the books, go read them)
In the linked books a MMO like economy is used to create a reward system (using 'darknet credits') that supposedly results in productive leisure.

The thing with fighting marketers and their ilk is that they have a well fortified position so we need to change the rules of the game.
Some form of a shadow economy or currency inside a part fiction/part real 'game' would do that.
Maybe we can use augmented reality software to give everyone with a smartphone easy and fun access to this exclusive new layer of reality where they can be anything they want to be.

Isn't it annoying to keep having to hear misfits and malcontent talk about fighting The Machine, knowing that their fight is a lost one, that at best they will be ignored and even if there was a way you know they will be impossible to motivate to put the actual work in that's needed to achieve their goals?
Wouldn't it be great to be able to say to them "There's an app for that." And let their natural tribal urges take care of the rest?


There is a lot of work that is more readily done when it's called a quest, just think of all the WoW players that grind for at least an hour every day, We need a case study to test how much drudgery people are willing to accept in real life if it is for a game they are playing.
After adapting the game to the players' dislike of drudgery the next step is of course to train the second generation of players to accept the drudgery as much as we want them to. Maybe a 'Good Parenting' Achievement Unlocked! Pop-up in their augmented reality smartglasses?
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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2011, 11:33:00 pm »
Thanks for reminding me to pick up the sequel to "Daemon", which I found very interesting. Check out this speech by the author: http://download.fora.tv/rss_media/Long_Now_Podcasts/podcast-2008-08-08-suarez.mp3 which may or may not be highly relevant to this thread but still very interesting...

My brain also associated to this: http://www.pixelpoppers.com/2009/11/awesome-by-proxy-addicted-to-fake.html
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Cramulus

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2011, 02:44:27 pm »
So here's my uncertainty of the day---------

In late May, this video appeared on the net:

Fox News Got HACKED. REAL.

What you'll see if you click the link: a guy with a shaky hand held cam stands outside of the fox news building in NYC. He claims to have hacked their scrolling digital marquee. He and his friends gasp and titter with excitement as his prank unfolds: the scrolling marquee has been hacked, and at a certain time, it switches from its normal feed to a message about how Fox News lies. We will rise up. Our economy is not broke. We will fight back. We will spread the truth.

So the net's reaction to this is pretty typical: a big group of people are like FUCK YEAH and shared it with all their liberal friends. Another group of people thought the whole thing was fake.

So another video appeared to address the idea that it's fake.

              <link here... shit... can't find the link. Oh well I'll just leave this text in a link style so you mouse over it anyway. It's very misleading.>

In this video, the alleged hacker appears (in disguise) to talk straight to his audience. He signals that he is not part of anonymous, but he appreciates the hacktivist work they do. He goes on to explain how he did the hack - which mostly involves social engineering. It's a very believable explanation. He spoofed his way through the fox news communication network by signaling that he was an employee. He eventually found the guy who approves the news ticker text, and installed a keylogger on the dude's machine. Within 24 hours, the hacker had all the guy's passwords, and used that to approve the fake text. He continued talking about the system of control used by the media and how Fox News is BadWrong.


BOTH of these videos point you towards june23rd.org. Which at the time was a "coming soon" page where they said they were going to announce this big activist project on June 23rd.









So I basically forgot about it 9 minutes after I saw the videos. Checked in last night to see what all that hubbub was about. Guess where it points now?

http://www.rebuildthedream.com/

If you click that link, you'll find that you're actually on MoveOn.org. In case you're not familiar, here's wikipedia's description:

Quote
MoveOn is an American non-profit, progressive[1] or liberal[2][3] public policy advocacy group and political action committee, which has raised millions of dollars for candidates it identifies as "moderates" or "progressives" in the United States. It was formed in 1998 in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives
-----so it's basically a partisan astroturfing group.


To me, this paints the "Fox News Hack" in an entirely new light. This wasn't some renegade activist making a private stand, it was a highly funded media stunt.


It's said that the only real currency on the net is attention. This is a great example of that.

By creating an event that appeared spontaneous, they generated a level of buzz around it which they could never create for moveon.org. Why did this event "work"?

-Left wing kids in a media environment are eager to fight fox news because it's a symbol of the right wing.
-By appearing "grassroots", it gives you a certain type of "cred" for spreading it. You look like the cool guy linked to the underground resistance.
-It's also real hip to link to fox news getting bashed
-Hackers are all over the news this summer, so people are eager to hear news about them... especially this guy who appears to come from outside of Anon or LulzSec.


On a personal note, I do feel manipulated. I didn't go all crazy linking people to the fox news stunt, but I feel like they misled me. They capitalized on my desire to see some left wing justice served up hacker style.

This is what Guy DeBoard talks about in the Society of the Spectacle. Because of stuff like this, authentic grassroots activism gets viewed through this lens of "hmmm, is this real? who's funding this?" We all have to get more cynical and skeptical. Don't react to the event, realize you're reacting to a symbol of an event.

It's not important whether or not they actually did the hack. It's hype. It's signaling. The point was just to get you to go to June23rd.org and sign up for "The American Dream Movement". (presumably the astroturfed youth branch of the Obama reelection campaign)

You can't believe anything you goddamn see these days.

Elder Iptuous

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2011, 03:16:02 pm »
wow.  that's fantastic, Cram!
thanks for the read.

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2011, 03:21:18 pm »
The trolling job I applied for (and didn't get) was with moveon.org. They're being a little clumsy about it, outing themselves for attention & etc.

There are a bunch of organizations on both sides doing this, some more smoothly than others. We have truly entered an era of "trust no one".  :lulz:


“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Cramulus

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2011, 03:25:33 pm »
I'm really considering going to one of these "American Dream" meetups on the 17th, but I don't know what my agenda would be.

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2011, 03:26:12 pm »
Woah, that's wild, Cram. I didn't even hear about this.

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2011, 03:40:20 pm »
I'm really considering going to one of these "American Dream" meetups on the 17th, but I don't know what my agenda would be.

Well, seeing as how machinations like this must be juggled by somebody who no doubt considers themselves to be a masterful manipulator, i would think throwing a big unknown into her plan would be its own reward...
i've not heard of these American Dream meetups.  how big are they supposed to be?
if you could get a group of people together to enthusiastically attend a meetup posing as some group that moveon would definitely not want to be associated with, that could be fun...

Triple Zero

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2011, 04:58:40 pm »
REALLY interesting, Cram!

there's only two results for "june23rd.org" on youtube

this is the other video, but it doesn't seem to be the one you remember that you couldn't find.

at first I thought, maybe the hacker just linked to a political movement he felt needed some promotion. But that just simply doesn't check out, so never mind.

one line of defense: if someone grabs your attention only in order to link you to a landing page that says "<date> COMING SOON ...", then 99 out of 100 times it's viral advertising.

They probably had to be explicitly clear about not having any ties to Anon, since whoever is behind moveon.org doesn't want to be associated with them, especially after all the crap LulzSec pulled.

That said, what are these guys about? Apart from being icky advertising, their ideas do not immediately strike me as insane?
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Cramulus

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2011, 05:14:51 pm »
They're a left wing astroturfing group. Nothing really surprising there.

Looks like their current goal is to get a bunch of people to jump up to a higher orbit of participation in the political engine. They're throwing highly local gatherings all over the country. There are like 5 of them within 15 miles of me.

What makes me roll my eyes is that all the articles on their front page right now are attacks on fox. So it's media commenting on media and trying to pass it off as "reclaiming the American dream". They're not going to change anybody's minds, they're trying to concentrate power by preaching to the choir. It's like adbusters trying to run TV commercials about not watching TV. You can't subvert a medium by using the same exact medium. And it's a distraction from the real issues and real things we should be getting riled up about.


The whole thing smells like

--the advance wing of the Obama reelection campaign
--George Soros wishing that he had his own Tea Party
--both of the above

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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2011, 06:58:21 pm »
Really interesting Cram, thanks for this.


I'm really considering going to one of these "American Dream" meetups on the 17th, but I don't know what my agenda would be.

Well, seeing as how machinations like this must be juggled by somebody who no doubt considers themselves to be a masterful manipulator, i would think throwing a big unknown into her plan would be its own reward...
i've not heard of these American Dream meetups.  how big are they supposed to be?
if you could get a group of people together to enthusiastically attend a meetup posing as some group that moveon would definitely not want to be associated with, that could be fun...

Inversely, because of Cram's last post, you could get a small group of people to show up and represent yourselves as a special interest group which they'd want to recruit. If you want to get closer to the 'central' node.. but then you're playing OM in person, which can get tricky.
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Re: Unbleached Branding Displacement
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2011, 07:25:33 pm »
Really interesting Cram, thanks for this.


I'm really considering going to one of these "American Dream" meetups on the 17th, but I don't know what my agenda would be.

Well, seeing as how machinations like this must be juggled by somebody who no doubt considers themselves to be a masterful manipulator, i would think throwing a big unknown into her plan would be its own reward...
i've not heard of these American Dream meetups.  how big are they supposed to be?
if you could get a group of people together to enthusiastically attend a meetup posing as some group that moveon would definitely not want to be associated with, that could be fun...

Inversely, because of Cram's last post, you could get a small group of people to show up and represent yourselves as a special interest group which they'd want to recruit. If you want to get closer to the 'central' node.. but then you're playing OM in person, which can get tricky.

It would be a good thing, IMO, to have little Discordian nodes inside all of these factions.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”