Culture Jamming

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Yesterday I went on a wee tirade about language and pronunciation. Because I was thinking so much about the word “jam” and its various uses, I remembered working on a blog project from my last master’s degree. We had to get into groups and write a blog (a new media outlet) demonstrating our learning from that term (which was a lot about culture jamming).

Culture jamming is, according to the University of Washington definition:

“Culture jamming is an intriguing form of political communication that has emerged in response to the commercial isolation of public life. Practitioners of culture jamming argue that culture, politics, and social values have been bent by saturated commercial environments, from corporate logos on sports facilities, to television content designed solely to deliver targeted audiences to producers and sponsors. Many public issues and social voices are pushed to the margins of society by market values and commercial communication, making it difficult to get the attention of those living in the “walled gardens” of consumerism. Culture jamming presents a variety of interesting communication strategies that play with the branded images and icons of consumer culture to make consumers aware of surrounding problems and diverse cultural experiences that warrant their attention.

Many culture jams are simply aimed at exposing questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture so that people can momentarily consider the branded environment in which they live. Culture jams refigure logos, fashion statements, and product images to challenge the idea of “what’s cool,” along with assumptions about the personal freedoms of consumption. Some of these communiqués create a sense of transparency about a product or company by revealing environmental damages or the social experiences of workers that are left out of the advertising fantasies. The logic of culture jamming is to convert easily identifiable images into larger questions about such matters as corporate responsibility, the “true” environmental and human costs of consumption, or the private corporate uses of the “public” airwaves.”

This sort of “jam” rather than “yam” is pretty cool although I am not particularly creative enough to go down this road. I just thought it would be fun to revisit the blog my group created over a year ago. My post naturally went way over the word limits but did get to incorporate the Yes Men – love them!

And rather randomly connected with one of the guys from culture jamming musical pioneers, Negativland, thanks to knowing something about culture jamming.

The changing workscape: Would you want to work there?

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In a million years I would not consider working somewhere like Yahoo! now. Not that I would have anyway (never mind that they might not be remotely interested in me). After the very public, very controversial take-back of work-at-home privileges leveled by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, the idea of working somewhere like that feels backwards. For a forward-looking technology company, albeit with its own strong opinions on what will help them to innovate again (but seriously, is Yahoo! ever really going to be considered as within the innovation vanguard again?), taking such a polarizing action (polarizing both internal employees and talent in the ultra-competitive and shorthanded tech sector and the general public – or at least interested parties in the tech industry), while garnering some attention (mostly negative*), does not really strike me as a place any forward-thinking, innovation-minded employee would strive to be. Not just because they might want to work at home – that slap in the face is the tip of the iceberg – but because the one-size-fits-all and iron fist of “this is how it is” approach doesn’t endear anyone to any workplace.

Some companies have quiet policies discouraging remote work, while others don’t make a “policy” but give managers the authority and autonomy to assess the individual situation and employee as to how best to handle remote work. A blanket answer rarely works for anything, so why it would work in a situation where work styles are so clearly different is beyond me. (I am an introvert and it explains a lot about my passion and agitating for remote work options.) It might be too early to render a verdict, but I don’t see anything revolutionary or interesting coming from Yahoo! since Mayer’s decision to forbid virtual work. Not all publicity is good publicity.

In an unrelated matter, I just thought of how the CEO of a company I worked for saying, “Congratulations” to me when he saw a big table of cakes I had made. But should he not have congratulated himself – he’s the one who gets to eat the cookies!?

*For those times when there is nothing to be but negativ(e)…