Monthly Archives: October 2012

Yesterday ISK:s guest researcher Hagen Schölzel gave a presentation as a part of our department’s research seminar series. His talk, which was based on his soon to be published dissertation, focused on guerilla communication or the political act of transforming dominant political expressions into new forms of meanings, often with subversive twists. Schölzel traced the meaning of the term itself – guerilla communication – starting from its use within art movements such as surrealism, Dadaism and the situationists and up to its contemporary use in PR-handbooks. Today, perhaps the most common examples used when explaining this form of communication are the acts of ad busting, the Yes Men-films or the Anonymous movement.

But perhaps such transformations of meaning are more prevalent today than we realize. The idea that we live in a remix culture was made popular, but certainly not created, within academic discourses by Lawrence Lessig and his notion of read/write-culture, as oppose to our pre-digital society where we were confined to the more passive use of media – we were stuck in reading culture, as oppose to the more creative acts of being able to (re)write media. The documentary A Remix Manifesto is a good example of this.

A few hours after Schölzel’s presentation the Swedish Royal House released a video depicting Sweden’s princess Madeleine and her fiancé announcing their engagement. What was supposed to be a simple portrayal of (heteronormative) love turned into juicy digital pieces highly suitable for distorting, molding and remixing the video’s intentional meaning. All because of that four letter word: tihi.

It was a word (?) Madeleine uttered at the very end, seeking to signal joy perhaps, or nervousness, but perhaps more so an automatic wish to please, a point made explicit by Birgitta Stenberg (website in Swedish). But regardless of her intentions, it was there. It was a bit absurd. And it created a storm. Tihi-gate was unleashed and the remixers flooded the social media.

Perhaps the most poignant distortion was created by public radio SR where they simply but so accurately enhanced the video with a little bit of Twin Peaks-surrealism. I am completely struck by how the added layer of musical spookiness subverts the intended message completely and makes the viewer realize the absurdity and inauthenticity of something so neatly staged. The viewers are divided between the staleness of Royalty and the dark forests of Twin Peaks where characters such as the Log Lady roams; a mental zigzag excercise between a fixed reality to a reality where little or anything makes sense whatsoever. In other words, a match made in heaven.

Perhaps this shows that strategic communication is not about control. It is about the realization that nothing can be taken for granted. All because of that four letter word, tihi.

Speaking at the NEMO conference Remco Vroom mentioned the Quantified Self movement – people who try to capture data streams about themselves. This can range from geotagging movements through to weight, heart rate and exercise patterns (Fitbit etc) to much more detailed records. Others want to capture more and more of their lives visually (think Instagram); now a Stockholm start-up, Memoto is taking this further by offering tiny, always-on cameras.

At the same time, social media encourages us to share more and more personal data, and this brings risks. In the UK this is Get Safe Online week.

There is no doubt about the biggest talking point of the week…

MyNewsDesk has the inside story.

And finally…. In some classes we have talked about Downfall as an example of remediation: here, Hitler learns about Tyskland 4 Sverige 4. He is a little disappointed…

One of the highlights…if not the highlight!!!! … of Friday’s NEMO: New Media, Modern Democracy conference was a video presentation put together by Howard Nothhaft and Hagen Schölzel, describing their research project, Swarming for Democracy – A New Culture in Political Communication?

Unbelievably, it appeared to contain a clip of “Defence minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg’s military farewell from office with full military honors by Germany’s military brass band and Berlin’s guard battalion, playing ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple.” Unless Howard and Hagen are truly brilliant hoaxsters, here’s the YouTube proof!

Elsewhere this week, Melissa Kit Chow unveiled Like-A-Hug, her new wearable social media device recently, which lets users physically feel when their friends “like” what they do. Chow worked with Andy Payne and Phil Seaton in the MIT Media Lab to create the puffy vests, which inflates when someone likes something you do on Facebook. The wearer is feels a soft squeeze and can check to see who gave them a hug. If the “liker” is also wearing a vest, the “likee” can return a hug by squeezing the vest and both people can feel the love.

PS: “I like to have opinions….” (Dilbert)

Special K breakfast cereal opens a Tweet shop

Were “Ruthless” PR tactics used to launch ne JK Rowling’s post-Potter novel?

The History (and Future) of PR, according to Richard Edelman

He identifies five ways PR must change:

  • Advise clients on how to communicate around the media cloverleaf (social, hybrid, owned and traditional). Take on the major issues of the day and prove performance through transparency.
  • Aim to have the dominant creative idea. The stranglehold of advertising on the marketer is now loosened.
  • Be comfortable with interpreting data and insist on using it. Offer clients fresh insights that lead to great ideas. Generate true discussions and learn from communities of shared interest. Find new opinion formers, passionate consumers, social activists and empowered employees in the inverted pyramid of influence.
  • Show, don’t just tell. Harness the power of video and photos …(including) deeper, more informative visuals, such as infographics.
  • Find the balance between global and local. Shape global reputations, but remember PR is inherently local.

And, finally, for those of you who envied the man who got the best job in the world…. Here’s the sting in the tale