Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Undermining the TNC: From Adbusters to the Church of Life After Shopping

Last week's Hanson and Bennett readings talked about different grass roots organizations and interest groups claiming as their own the very communication technology used by TNC's and other global actors as means of influence and domination. The Internet and wireless technology enable people to not only express disapproval with words but with their credit cards as well. Adbusters, an anti-consumerist organization, has a commercial component to their chock-full-of-rhetoric website that gives visitors a chance to buy shoes like "The Unswoosher" (get it?). The shoes don't look terribly comfortable and cost a pretty penny, but the point is that this website not only serves as a watering hole for like minded people but as a resource for actively countering the sweatshop industry, albeit in teeny-tiny increments.

Both writers make it apparent that the David and Goliath battle of states and TNC versus advocacy networks is often a game of checks and counterchecks (example: the Internet as a tool for domestic dialogue and advocacy of democracy in China vs. Great Firewall of China). Additionally, corporations and governments can use their advertising or propaganda resources to discredit their opponents' tech-savvy attacks.

Still, the use of integrated ICT by advocacy groups large and small to bypass a dominant party and appeal to individuals means that nothing short of an all out authoritarian crack down and a total lack of access to ICT infrastructure (cell phones, computers, etc.) can stop these groups from reaching their audiences. That doesn't mean that audiences will care about the issues these groups are promoting; but, as Bennett points out, the inclusiveness of these networks mean there is always the option of opting in.

Here are a few links that show how integrated ICT can encourage people to opt into various anti-consumerism organizations or ideologies. Some orgs have a more somber tone than others.

Reverend Billy and the Church of Life After Shopping

Reverend Billy Talking to Glenn Beck (posted on YouTube)

Founder of Adbusters on CNN (I think that the anchor's dismissive attitude only highlighted the problem he is talking about and painted her as a rep of just another money-grubbing TNC.)

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