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Jill Walker Rettberg. 2014 “Seeing ourselves through Technology” Palgrave Pivot.

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There is a lot of public and academic discussion about “Selfies” at the moment. When we uncritically follow some of this debate we could believe it is an entirely new phenomenon created by mobile phones equipped with cameras, and maybe selfie-sticks. Jill Walker Rettberg has written an insightful analysis of the ‘selfie-phenomenon’ that situates the photographic selfies we are all familiar with, within the wider social and historic context of past and present technologies and techniques used to create representations of the self, including self-portraits, auto-biographies, and more recently quantified modes of self-logs and activity trackers.

Having situated “Selfies” Walker Rettberg moves on to discuss how “filters” are being used and create distinct version of self-representations. These filters can be technological, such as Instagram filters, or cultural. Whilst the former can be deployed to create images of our selves that show us how we want to be seen by others, the latter are those filters we deploy in response to the socio-cultural environment we inhabit; they guide for example the section of images that we create, collect and display.

A “Selfie” rarely occurs in isolation but often are produced in a series. By examining series of selfies, such as changes of profile pictures over time Walker Rettberg can show how the way in which people present themselves over time changes. As in previous chapters Walker Rettberg manages to link her analysis with knowledge about art history and art theory.

The emergence of Selfies is closely linked to the growing trend of tracking applications and logs. Walker Rettberg illuminates this linkage between these two phenomena and explicates the growing automation of the tracking and its relationship to the earlier discussion about filters. One strength of this chapter is the elaboration of this relationship between, for example the quantified self, the use of automation in the data collection and analysis and the filtering of information in the process. Walker Rettberg further elaborates on the quantified self movement in a separate chapter.

All the developments Walker Rettberg examines and discusses in her book throw in the open issues of surveillance and privacy that every now and again create a media hysteria without being properly dealt with. In her final chapter Walker Rettberg explicates some of the privacy issues related to selfies and possible consequences of the self-logging for people.

Overall, the book provides a very good analysis of the Selfie phenomenon and offers plenty of food for thought on possible further research on related phenomena, such as quantification of the self, automation etc.

Restaurants issue vouchers to attract more custom. For Cafe Rouge, a restaurant chain of some popularity with families in the UK, these Vouchers are offered by Tesco, by the chain itself, and by websites like Vouchercodes. I picked up a voucher from Vouchercode to head for a Cafe Rouge restaurant in Central London on a Sunday. Here is the Voucher:

Cafe-rouge voucher

The voucher clearly states, valid 7 days a week, one kid’s main free with every adult’s meal. We went as a couple with two kids, expecting some noticeable discount on our bill that mounted up to something like £44. Like most insurance policies most vouchers also come with a catch. Although this voucher clearly states “valid 7 days a week” the catch is mentioned in point 10 of the terms and conditions:

Cafe Rouge Terms

The terms and conditions list a number of restaurants that are exempt from accepting our voucher. Unfortunately, we did not read the small print and fell into the trap. When asking for the bill we obviously were not aware of the special status of our restaurant and mentioned to the restaurant’s waitress and then the manager that we had expected to be able to use the voucher when two explanations were given for them not accepting it.

1. It’s your own fault

When presenting the voucher to the waitress she said that this restaurant was exempt from accepting the voucher which was stated in the terms and conditions that we should have read before ordering. Many other restaurants of the same chain still accepted vouchers and next time maybe we should pick one of those.

As customers we were not really happy to be blamed, yet having seen the small print now we are obviously aware that we better had spent some more time reading the small print.

2. It’s the company’s management fault

Because we were not ready to accept the waitress’ explanation we asked her if the manager of the restaurant was around. She called the manager over who was a very polite young lady who showed her understanding and relieved us from the blame her staff had put on us. She explained the reason for the voucher policy with the company’s management having changed ownership recently and that basically the new management was to blame for having introduced a new policy on vouchers. Since recently certain restaurant’s were exempt from the acceptance of vouchers. She said that she regularly was confronted by customers finding themselves in the very same situation we were in now; their vouchers were invalid and they had to pay the full bill. There was nothing she could do about that.

Obviously looking at the terms and conditions, the waitress and restaurant manager are in the right. We were in the wrong and should have done our research properly before entering the venue and ordering our food. Yet, we as other customers just want to go for a meal without having to check the terms and conditions of the visit. One would imagine that restaurants like Cafe Rouge have an interest in their customers leaving happy and satisfied, and maybe think about returning.

There was a time when managers of companies argued that the ‘the customer is always right’ and that customers should not feel deceived or misled with the product or service they receive for their money. The distribution of vouchers that requires customers to read the small print that might inform them about exemptions of the vouchers’ validity does not seem to be a marketing activity devised in this spirit.

The Next Bison: Social Computing and Culture

Are online reviews fair? Consider these reviews of a small printer, the Canon Pixma MG6320 on the Consumer Reports website. At the time I am writing, there are three reviews, and all three writers gave it one star out of a possible five—the worst possible rating. The review titles are:

  • “Piece of junk”
  • “Unreliable and unbelievably expensive”
  • “The worst printer ever.”

 On the other hand, on Amazon.com the same printer currently has 464 reviews, and it gets an average of four out of five stars. Sample review titles include:

  • “Amazing printer”
  • “Made a great gift”
  • “A very good buy”

There are also negative reviews of course (“I wish I could give it minus stars”), but the consensus is four-star positive.

What is going on here? You could speculate that it’s just a matter of randomness and numbers—the three reviews are too small of a sample to matter, and…

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Syllabus – Topics and Readings

 

Week 1 (13 January 2014) Introduction to the Course

The first lecture introduces the course content, rationale and requirements of the course.

Relevant Book

Kotler, P. & G. Armstrong (2013). Principles of Marketing. Harlow: Pearsons.

Core Readings

Humphreys, L. (2005). “Cellphones in Public: Social Interactions in a Wireless Era.” New Media & Society 7 (6): 810–833.

Additional Readings

Kujovich, Mary Yeager. 1970. “The Refrigerator Car and the Growth of the American Dressed Beef Industry.The Business History Review 44 (4): 460–482.

Wei, Ran, and Louis Leung. 1999. “Blurring Public and Private Behaviors in Public Space: Policy Challenges in the Use and Improper Use of the Cell Phone.Telematics and Informatics 16 (1): 11–26.

Related Reading

Selinger, E. (2013). How not to be a jerk with your stupid smartphone. The Atlantic (November).

 

Week 2 (20 January 2014) Marketing and Technology

Public debates about technological innovation often talk about the ‘revolutionary’ impact of new technology. There are myriad examples for this phenomenon: “the internet revolution”, the “social media revolution” or the “Twitter revolution” to name but a few. These discussions principally argue that technological developments are shaping how we conduct our affairs, including how we organise our daily interactions as well as how we conduct marketing activities. At the same time, these discussions often ignore the political shaping and relevance of these technologies. This lecture explores the textbook premises of the relationship between marketing and technology. It sheds light on different perspectives on how technology is interwoven with marketing theory and practice.

Core Readings

Constantinides, E. (2006). “The Marketing Mix Revisited: Towards the 21st Century Marketing.” Journal of Marketing Management 22 (3-4): pp. 407–438.

Additional Readings

Bartels, R. (1986). Marketing: Management Technology or Social Process at the Twenty-First Century? In Marketing Management Technology as a Social Process. Edited by George Fisk. New York et al.: Praeger, pp.30-42.

Marx, L. (2010). Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept. Technology & Culture, 51(3), 561-577.

Möller, K. (2006). “The Marketing Mix Revisited: Towards the 21st Century Marketing by E. Constantinides.” Journal of Marketing Management 22 (3-4): pp. 439–450.

Related Readings

Friedman, T. (2009). Tweeting the Dialectic of Technological Determinism. FlowTV http://flowtv.org/2009/06/tweeting-the-dialectic-of-technological-determinism  ted-friedman  georgia-state-university-atlanta  /

 

Related Books

Robertson, D., and B. Breen. 2013. Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. Random House Business.

Stone, Brad. 2013. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. Bantam Press.

Week 3 (27 January 2014) Technology, Interaction and Networks

Over the past few years, social relationships are increasingly being described as networks. We find public discourse about networks, social networks, the network economy, network society and others. This lecture begins with a discussion of social interaction before moving on to concepts of market relationships and networks. It will form the basis for subsequent lectures concerned with online communities

Core Readings

Kaplan, Andreas M., and Michael Haenlein. 2010. “Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media.” Business Horizons 53 (1): 59–68.

Additional Readings

Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2008). Harnessing The Power of The Oh-So-Social Web, MIT Sloan Management Review, 2008, 49, pp. 335-342.

boyd, d. (2010). “Social Network Sites as Networked Publics : Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications.” In Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Networking Sites, ed. Zizi Papacharissi, pp.39–58. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ferguson, R., (2008). Word of mouth and viral marketing: taking the temperature of the hottest trends in marketing. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 25(3), pp. 179 – 182.

Watts, Duncan J, and Steve Hasker. 2006. “Marketing in an Unpredictable World.” Harvard Business Review.

Watts, D.J., 1999. Networks, Dynamics, and the Small-World Phenomenon. American Journal of Sociology, 105(2), p.493-527.

 

Related Books

Papacharissi, Zizi (2008). Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Networking Sites. Abingdon: Routledge.

Rainie, L., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Week 4 (3 February 2014) Wessel van Rensburg (RAAK) Inequality in Networks (working title)

@wildebees 

 Week 5 (10 February 2014) Social Networks and Reputation Management

At the same tome as social media and social networking has risen in importance for marketing practitioners new challenges have emerged that for example impact the ways in which companies’ reputation can be impacted by the use of these new media. This lecture draws on a few recent examples to explore some of these challenges to companies’ reputation and discusses ways in which companies might manage their reputation when using social media and social networking sites for their marketing communications.

Core Readings

Hennig-Thurau, Thorsten, Caroline Wiertz, and Fabian Feldhaus. (2013) “Does Twitter Matter? An Investigation of the Impact of Micro Blogging Word of Mouth on Consumers’ Adoption of New Products.” http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2016548

Additional Readings

Gruzd, A., B. Wellman, and Y. Takhteyev. 2011. “Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community.” American Behavioral Scientist 55 (10): 1294–1318.

Hamilton, K. & P. Hewer. (2010). Tribal mattering spaces: Social-networking sites, celebrity affiliations, and tribal innovations. Journal of Marketing Management, 26(3), p.271-289.

Hennig-Thurau, T., E. C. Malthouse, C. Friege, S. Gensler, L. Lobschat, a. Rangaswamy, and B. Skiera. 2010. “The Impact of New Media on Customer Relationships.” Journal of Service Research 13 (3): 311–330.

Phelps, J. E., Lewis, R., Mobilio, L., Perry, D., & Raman, N. (2004). Viral Marketing or Electronic Word-of-Mouth Advertising: Examining Consumer Responses and Motivations to Pass Along Email. Journal of Advertising Research, 44(4), 333-348.

Rainie, L., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked: The New Social Operating System. MIT Press.

Sarstedt, M. (2009). Reputation Management in Times of Crisis. Journal of Brand Management. Vol.16, 499-503.

Week 6 (24 February 2013) Rob Wilmot (BCS Agency Start-ups and Valuations

 @robwilmot

Week 7 (3 March 2013) Jadis Tillery Content Marketing (working title)

@jadistillery

Related Books

Jenkins, Henry. 2008. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York University Press.

Week 8 (10 March) – Search and Social Media Marketing

Over the past decade or so two important developments have emerged in the context of Internet Marketing: Search Marketing and Social Media Marketing. The growing economic weight of companies like Google suggest that Search will be one of the important marketing activities over the coming years. It is being used to obtain an understanding of the market as well as for the building of relationships and networks (Marsden and Kirby 2005; Moran and Hunt 2008). The lecture will discuss some of the practices involved in Search Marketing and assess possible problems these practices might raise for the relationship between companies and their customers. It then will turn to Social Media Marketing and explore how social networks like Facebook, Myspace or Jumo are used for marketing purposes, including the design, promotion and distribution of products and services (Penenberg 2009; Scott 2008). The discussion will touch on current debates concerned with viral marketing and online gaming as well as trust and reputation.   

 

Core Readings

Rijnsoever, Frank J. van, Castaldi, Carolina, Dijst, Martin J. (2012). In what sequence are information sources consulted by involved consumers? The case of automobile pre-purchase search, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 19(3), pp.343-352.

 

Related Books

Marsden, P., & Kirby, J. (2005). Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Moran, M., & Hunt, B. (2008). Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Companys Web Site. IBM Press.

Pariser, E., 2011. The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You, Viking.

Week 10 (17 March 2013) – Social and Sustainability Marketing and Technology

The arrival of new technology has also been picked up by market and consumer researchers. For example, over recent years video recording of consumers in shopping and leisure environments has been used to track people’s navigation through isles and gain an understanding of their shopping behaviour. With the arrival of the internet it has been recognised that people’s every ‘click’ can be tracked and followed and the information be used to personalise offers. This lecture critically assesses how technology is used to improve companies’ profits as well as offers for customers and considers some of the practical and ethical implications of these developments.

 

Core Readings

Brennan, Ross, Stephan Dahl, and Lynne Eagle. 2010. “Persuading Young Consumers to Make Healthy Nutritional Decisions.” Journal of Marketing Management 26 (7-8) (July 9): 635–655.

Related Books

Aaker, J., & A. Smith. (2010). The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change. Jossey Bass.

Peattie, K., & Belz, F. F.-M. (2009). Sustainability Marketing: A Global Perspective (p. 306). John Wiley & Sons.

Striphas, T. (2009). The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control. Columbia University Press.

Vaidhynathan, S., 2011. The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry), Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

 

Week 10  (24 March 2013) Marketing, Interaction & Technology

The design of systems to support people’s navigation of exhibitions often draws on concepts and theories about visitors’ movement through exhibitions. In reference to relevant literature it makes inferences about people’s interests in exhibits by the ways in which they navigate galleries and at which exhibits they stop and for how long. Thereby, designers and museum managers often talk about “visiting styles” and refer to a French paper by Veron and Levasseur (1991). Therein, the authors apparently, I haven’t read the paper, use an analogy from the animal world to describe four types of visiting style: ants, fishes, butterflys and grasshoppers. These types are seen as ideal types and it is argued that mixed styles of navigation are common. In fact, as Opperman and Specht (2000) suggest in reference to Bianchi and Zancanaro’s (1999) conference paper “the classification of a visitor is no longer made stereotypically by describing a visitor uniquely as one of the four animals, but as an estimation of the ‘degree of compatibility between the user’s movement pattern and the four stereotypes’ at a given point in time” (Bianchi and Zancanaro (1999) in Opperman and Specht 2000: p.132). From this typology probabilities are derived regarding people’s navigation pattern. This allows for the fact that visitors might change their visiting style ‘mid-fly’, i.e. as they navigate and exhibition. For example, a fish who has spent relatively little or no time with exhibits in one gallery, may encounter a gallery with objects s/he is more interested in and therefore spends more time with, thus turning into an ant.

This concept of visiting style links the  way and speed in which people navigate exhibitions to their level of engagement with exhibits. Underlying this concept of museum visiting are conventional measures of visitor research, i.e. the stopping and holder power of exhibits, coupled with theories of learning, such as the late Chan Screven’s (1976) goal-referenced approach that link assumptions about ‘learning from exhibits’ to the time people spend with exhibits. Using this approach it is possible to argue for technologies that promise to extend the time of people’s engagement with exhibits because according to theory, it leads to cognitive development.

A different but related kind of typology has been developed by John Falk (2009) in his book “Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience”. Here, Falk proposes to link visitor behaviour to people’s motivations  grounded in the identity. His argument is more complex than the typology discussed above. It can be seen as an expansion of earlier work by the same author where he together with colleagues investigated visitors’ agenda for museum visiting.

As Veron and Levasseur’s (1991) typology Falks differentiation of visitors in types represents a classification scheme that in reality cannot be found in this way. It is an attempt to bring order to a messy social world and seems very useful for museum managers and marketing managers because of this lack of messiness. They can use such typologies to make decisions about exhibition programmes or technologies to be deployed in their galleries.

Such theories about museum visiting however largely ignore the reality of visitors’ experience of museums. They neglect what people actually do in museums, how they approach, examine and depart from exhibits, and how they make experiences of exhibits and generate experiences for others. This neglect is grounded on related research that is primarily interested in the individual visitor or in groups and families that are considered as social entities rather than as dynamic social processes. Researchers see the origin of actions, such as the approach to an exhibit or the departure from an exhibit, in either the visitor’s motivation or in the design of the exhibit. Yet, save for very few exceptions these researchers rarely look at how people draw each other to examine exhibits, how they encourage each other to inspect objects in particular ways, how they generate experiences for each other and how they occasion each other to move on.

By investigating the details of people’s action at the “point of experience” where the action is and where the action can be observed, researchers see how people produce experiences of exhibits in interaction with others. Whilst on the surface these details appear to ‘messy’ a closer look reveals that they are systematically produced and intelligibly orderly. Visitors in galleries behave in intelligible ways and their action becomes observable and reportable as museum visiting, without them requiring theoretical typologies to make sense of each other’s action.

It would seem that basing decisions on detailed knowledge about what people are actually doing in museums would provide decision makers in museums with a safer footing than theories about visitors’ actions. Are there any museum managers or designers out there who use detailed observational or video-based research to inform their decision making?

 

For related research go here

 

References

Bianchi, A. and M. Zancanaro, Tracking Users’ Movements in an Artistic Physical Space, in Proceedings of the i3 Annual Conference: Community of the Future, Octo- ber 20 – 22, 1999 in Siena, M. Caenepeel, D. Benyon, and D. Smith, Editors. 1999, The Human Communication Research Centre, The University of Edinburgh: Edin- burgh. p. 103 – 106.

Falk, J. H. (2009). Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press Inc. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Museums-Identity-John-H-Falk/dp/1598741632

Heath, C., & Vom Lehn, D. (2004). Configuring Reception: (Dis-)Regarding the “Spectator” in Museums and Galleries. Theory, Culture & Society, 21(6), 43–65. doi:10.1177/0263276404047415

Oppermann, R., & Specht, M. (2000). A Context-Sensitive Nomadic Exhibition Guide, 127–142.

Screven, C. G. (1976). Exhibit Evaluation: A goal-referenced approach. Curator, 52(9), 271–290.

Véron, E. and M. Levasseur, Ethnographie de l’exposition: L’espace, le corps et le sens. 1991, Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou Bibliothèque Publique d’Information.

vom Lehn, D. (2006). Embodying experience: A video-based examination of visitors’ conduct and interaction in museums. European Journal of Marketing, 40(11/12), 1340–1359. doi:10.1108/03090560610702849

vom Lehn, D. (2012). Configuring standpoints: Aligning perspectives in art exhibitions. Bulletin suisse de linguistique appliquée, 96, 69–90.

vom Lehn, D. (2013). Withdrawing from Exhibits: the interactional organisation of museum visits. In P. Haddington, L. Mondada, & M. Nevile (Eds.), Interaction and Mobility: Language and the Body in Motion. Berlin: de Gryter.