[“Are all Americans implanted with tracking devices,” he asked.]
1) The “global media system” seems more complicated than just the import and export of news and cultural products. What can we learn about this system from the presence of “informal” flows of media?
The concept of the “global media system” is indeed so very “complicated” that needs to be clarified because it’s not just “a” thing. It’s a perpetually expanding network of different mediums, or platforms on which to transfer data, information or a message, with the ultimate intention of communicating to recipients, in the plural and public sense, about something previously unknown, or in order to influence them. That’s the purpose, which is as expansive as the mediums used to bridge the sender-receiver connection; from physical and unconcealed, such as billboards and magazines, to physical and concealed, disks and USB drives, to cable/airwave transported mediums; television, radio, and internet.
To add another dimension to these modes of transference is time; some mediums deliver immediate and current information, some can be edited without leaving an original record, and some are fixed and timeless.
Now, with that multifaceted definition of a “media system,” let’s add the “global” aspect and just how that can affect the intention of the message, the intention of who the receivers are, and the route the message takes to arrive. So, the message now faces more influential factors on this more expansive and less structured “global” bridge including borders, cultural perspectives and values, and whether the message arrived directly or was intercepted.
And with this notion of the various mediums, intentions and methods the “global media system” entails, I want to share an example of how one recipient interpreted a global media message:
I was living with a comparably well-educated family in the Paraguayan interior, while serving in the Peace Corps. One afternoon, I had engaged in a conversation with the son-in-law, a lawyer, and one of the four sons, Arturo, who had made his weekend trip back to mom’s place from his university in the capital, Asunción. We were chatting about capitalism, how it has affected the United States, and how the U.S. is imposing neo-liberal ideals on the rest of the world, when the 20-something undergrad inquired whether it was true that all U.S. citizens were implanted with a tracking device.
This is an epic example of skewed intention. Who sent the original message? What was the medium? Who intercepted it? What cultural filter led to this conclusion?
While we can’t easily trace this back to the source, I do want to mention a major influential factor in similarly unintended messages that is caused due to interception. And despite the origin or type of the message, the question of whether or not it has value within a certain culture is pertinent to its spread and significance. What I am alluding to here is the effects of informal communications economy on available technology, perceptions and certainly the affect it has on its recipients.
In reference to this massive informal industry, in Tristan Mattelart’s article, “Piracy Cultures: Audiovisual Piracy, Informal Economy, and Cultural Globalization,” he acknowledges “the ingenious ways in which local entrepreneurs and consumers manage to evade social, economic and political factors obstructing their access to cultural goods.”
And while it seems like a positive correlation between piracy and the entrepreneurial spirit it inspires and information consumption by people who might otherwise be left in the dark, he also mentions that this informal economy is based on failure; “failures of the public policies on access to cultural goods pursued by the governments of these countries or by international organizations, and failures in the strategies of global communications groups which take insufficient account of the specific conditions in these societies.”
And this inverse correlation can also result in a people appropriating skewed ideas intercepted in the midst of this global media web.