Thursday, December 02, 2004

final class meeting

Today was the final class meeting (although there will be a party next week). The conversation was great and very multi-faceted. We started off with a discussion about the TV shows that were popular proceeding each election, noting the correlation and curious about the causality. More discussion on the environment. Doc Searls was visiting and he gave a wonderful talk on technology and how it connects into the political front. Check out the class notes

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

class 13 notes

More notes from today - class 13

Monday, November 29, 2004

classroom change announcement

For those in the class, Wednesday will be in Giannini 141 and the next two Thursdays will be in Morgan 109.

classroom change announcement

For those in the class, Wednesday will be in Giannini 141 and the next two Thursdays will be in Morgan 109.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

class 12 notes

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Depressed Democrats' Guide to Recovery

Make sure to check out: Depressed Democrats' Guide to Recovery. It addresses many of the topics from yesterday - moving to Canada, finding moral grounding, etc.

class 11 notes

Lakoff is back and class resumed - here are the notes. For the first half, we talked all over the place and in the second half, we focused on two people's projects (most of which i did not document). In many ways, Lakoff's job just got much harder because now people realize that they need him. Thus, he's spending a lot of time working with the Democrats. Should be exciting!

I should fully admit that my energy was low and talking about politics made my ostrich self cringe.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

more shortly...

We did not have class this Tuesday (which is why there are no notes). I wasn't able to attend class on November 2 (and neither was Mary). This blog is a product of love by us and represents the class conversations so without classes, there are no notes.

On a personal level, i haven't been able to deal with election or post-election conversations, further explaining the absence of posting. Class will resume on Tuesday and i will add material then.

"The Persuaders"

There was an interesting and relevant edition of Frontline this evening entitled "The Persuaders." (see below)

It's over-arching focus was on advertising and the extent we're inundated by media messages. Our friend Frank Luntz showed up a few times and it was quiet interesting watching him in his element busily testing phrases and frames in real-time with focus groups.

Right now PBS has the full text of all the interviews on the web site, and will have the program available for web streaming sometime on Friday (they say after 5:00pm EST). I think the startling thing is that Luntz is merely a (logical) extension of what Madison Avenue has been doing for decades.

And they also examine what the Democrats did, how they used technology to connect Kerry to voters that helped him gain a leg up in the primaries and garner the nomination. Very interesting to see how they view "target marketing" of their messages to dozens of discrete sub-groups, tailoring their messages to the issues that they believe will matter to these groups... while acknowledging that the messages to some sub-groups may well be offensive to other sub-groups. While this may not categorically qualify as Orwellian use of language, it does (IMHO) appear to have a similar shaping of perceptions that is contrary to a broader reality. Probably more important is seeing how the progressives approach communicating their messages based on issues, while the conservatives look how people *feel* about broader macro-level concerns through values frames.

One of the best (or most succinct) analogies between the two approaches was hearing historian Michael Beschloss describing how Ronald Reagan would be asked a policy question and he would subsequently respond with a story. He'd paint a picture with words to illustrate a political and/or moral position, and that resonated with middle America. I have a litany of reasons why I think that's the case, but point being, it serves as a good rough example of the distinction between focusing on morals and issues (the "truth" shall set you free).

It also makes me wonder why is it that the party whose platform is deeply concerned with caring (and feeling) for the disenfranchised is yet so seemingly emotionally detached in their approach; while the party that is most concerned with competition and profits, whose members (seem to) assume that racism and poverty aren't systematic but predicated by how an individual looks at a situation, manages to resonate with people on an emotional level even when that alliance is arguably not in their own best interests.

I wonder if there's something more cognitively at work here than the binary frame of Nurturant Parent v. Strict Father. I think on some level people understand competition and what it entails (it's 'in the frame'). There's unconscious rules of fairness, competitveness, what winning, failure, growth, etc. look like. However, I don't know if the same can be said of the majority of social programs. What is success? How is it achieved? How long will it take? How much will it cost? What's the most efficient way to do it? What's the most effective way to do it? Is it worth it in comparison to other alternatives?

Maybe this dichotomy gives rise to cognitive dissonance that reinforces the competition frame while leaving the social program frame vulnerable. In fact, since most social programs are seen as "entitlements", do they not simultaneously reinforce the benefit (morally good) of the competition frame and the negative (immoral) of social programs?


The Persuaders (home page)

The Persuaders: Themes

(from Duane Vickrey)

Sunday, October 31, 2004

"The Orwellian Language of Big Government"

location change for Tuesday

Tuesday's class will begin at 3.30 in 263 Dwinelle. Don't forget to vote!