Nov
24

KCAA Interview with Dr. Binoy Kampmark

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Nov
22

KCAA Radio Sunday Nov 24 – Dr. Binoy Kampmark – WikiLeaks

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Nov
21

KCAA Sun Nov 24 – Dr. Binoy Kampmark – The Illusions of Technology

 

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Floating Twitter and Fleeting Tweets: The Illusions of Technology

By Binoy Kampmark

“This is the story of the next half-century as we effectively become cyborgs” – Joshua Foer [1]

It says much that one of the great technological achievements of the last 20 years is a creation emphasizing the writing of 140 characters: the tailored, high-speed medium of communication that has effectively created a virtual community, with a set of virtual ethics and codes of misconduct. It has become the parasite of conversations – one doesn’t so much have conversations as fingering sessions on blackberries and iPhones. The real, a term that has ceased being popular, are left behind.

Twitter addicts are incapable of actually having a conversation beyond the cyber community they have constructed. Therein lies salvation, and perhaps destruction, for them. Then comes the other side, one of revolt against such tendencies. Either you stay off it or at the very least escape the Blackberry world. Go to Spain, Gwyneth Paltrow suggests, where she assumes that a relaxed life repels the need to be on the grid. The Spanish “don’t always have their Blackberrys on.”[2]

By all accounts, founders Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone did rather well in the company’s initial public offering (IPO): a good showing given that such technology floats can crash with Icarus-like doom. “Kudos to Twitter for orchestrating a highly successful IPO,” said Lou Kerner of the Social Internet Fund.[3] Then, the warning. “However, as FaceBook showed, an IPO success, or disaster in FaceBook’s case, is really just noise in the long term. Twitter’s success as a stock is going to be based on how the company performs.”

Yelp, Zynga, Groupon, LinkedIn are among the other companies in the social-media field that have taken the IPO plunge. For Twitter, shares opened on the New York Stock Exchange at $45, which placed the company’s value at $30 billion. Seventy million shares had been offered at the initial price of $26, valuing the company at $18.34 billion.

Analysts make their predictable predictions on the fortunes of the company. Cantor Fitzgerald of Youssef Squali, speaking in the obtuse, torturous language of marketing, wrote of how, “Twitter is based on a one to-one-all, all-the-time broadcast distribution model, and as such, fulfils and unmet need.” The model is “highly complementary to traditional media outlets (especially TV), and fulfills the need for up-to-the-minute, trending information in real time.”

What is the substance, as opposed to the form, at stake here? We know that Twitter does perform well – if you believe brevity to be the soul of wit. But monetizing it has always been the great conundrum. It might have 230 million users worldwide, at a rough estimate, though it still posted a loss of more than $65 million in its last quarter.[4]

Individuals like E-commerce Director Brett Holmes don’t see Twitter as being any more challenging that what is already in place. “Social media companies are legitimate advertising websites, no different than, say, Google or Yahoo. The same way Google made its money is the same way Twitter and FaceBook will make their money.”[5] Tara Clarke of Money Morning suggests that grandest of shibboleths: that the success of such advertising depends on insertion without detection, or, the exertion of an influence on the user “without impacting the user in a negative way.” Then comes that great challenge of keeping people on their accounts – incessantly, even permanently.

Of course, the instant idea of Twitter is not the world of advertising but the influence of what it has become outside its seemingly banal existence. It has played a significant role in organizing groups and directing information. It has given birth to tweet activism, though this tends to be the cyber-version of hot air, virtual venting, activism via the click, the spurt, the dash.

Twitter has been the lifeline in some natural disasters, used in emergency landings, and become the target of law-enforcement authorities concerned about its scope. It is used to troll, to bully, to harass. It is used to express unguarded views that result in sackings, demotions and retributions. Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, adds another, not so exciting point: “it’s a great mechanism that celebs can use to embarrass themselves.”[6]

Then there is an argument wishing that Twitter might go away, vanish into the ether of babble that seemingly produced it. Each technological innovation doesn’t necessarily result in neurological advances. Joshua Foer’s, book Moonwalking with Einstein is replete with such examples. There is much to be said that Twitter performs a powerful dumbing down function, stunting memory the way writing and printing began challenging the oral tradition. From Gutenberg to Biz Stone; from the written word to the Tweet. Pity the mind.

But the founders have certainly put their finger on the sometimes profound but often extraordinary ordinariness of human communication. In Twitter’s economic debut on the New York Stock Exchange, one can’t deny that the medium itself had its day, creating a slew of paper millionaires, and even a billionaire in the form of Evan Williams, who owns 10.4 percent of the company. Its founders should enjoy the buzz and hope it lasts longer than it takes to write 140 characters.

References
1. New York Times Magazine, May 18, 2011.

2. Wall Street Journal, Jul 6, 2009.

3. AFP, Nov 8, 2013.

4. The Independent, Oct 25, 2013.

5. Money Morning, Oct 4, 2013.

6. Computer World, Mar 11, 2011.

Editor’s Notes: Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge and ran with Julian Assange for the WikiLeaks Party for the Australian Senate. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Photographs one, two, four and five by Steve Garfield.

 

Nov
17

Taki S. Raton – Why The Civil Rights Movement Has Failed Blacks

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Nov
15

Sunday Nov 17th KCAA Radio Show Guest Taki S. Raton

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KCAA Radio Presents Co-Hosts 

Roseanne Barr and Kathleen Wells Sunday November 10, 2013

 2:00pm Eastern   11:00am Pacific  9:00am Hawaii

with Guest

Taki S. Raton

Topic – Why The Civil Rights Movement has Failed Blacks

We will be taking your Calls at 1-888-909-1050

 

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Nov
11

KCAA Sunday November 10 Healthcare in America

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Guests

Dr. Phillip Caper and Wendell Potter

Nov
08

KCAA Sunday November 10th Healthcare in America

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KCAA Radio Presents Co-Hosts 

Roseanne Barr and Kathleen Wells Sunday November 10, 2013

 2:00pm Eastern   11:00am Pacific  9:00am Hawaii

with Guests

Dr. Phillip Caper and Wendell Potter

Topic Healthcare in America

 

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Nov
07

Guest Wendell Potter Joins Us on Sunday Healthcare in America

Potter Books Side

 

 

“As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill; they are rewarded for it. All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called, ‘Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations.’” — President Barack Obama, Remarks to Joint Session of Congress, September 9, 2009

Following a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Wendell left his position as head of communications for CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to help socially responsible organizations — including those advocating for meaningful health care reform — achieve their goals.

In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June of 2009, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, as part of their efforts to boost profits, have engaged in practices that have resulted in millions of Americans being forced into the ranks of the uninsured. Wendell also described how the insurance industry has developed and implemented strategic communications plans, based on deceptive public relations, advertising and lobbying efforts, to defeat reform initiatives.

Since then Wendell has testified before two House committees, briefed several members of Congress and their staffs, appeared with members of Congress at several press conferences, spoken at more than 100 public forums, and has been the subject of numerous articles in the U.S. and foreign media.

His new book is an expose of health insurers and a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy. Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans (Bloomsbury Press hardcover, November 2010) tells us why — and how — we must fight back.

Wendell is currently a senior analyst at the The Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan nonprofit that produces original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern; the senior fellow on health care for the Center for Media and Democracy, an independent, non-partisan public interest organization; and speaks out on both the need for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system and on the dangers to American democracy and society of the decline of the media as watchdog, which has contributed to the growing and increasingly unchecked influence of corporate PR. He also serves as a consumer liaison representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.