Advertising and Propaganda

Thinking about the differences between advertising and Propaganda this week was really interesting. There are some similarities but one of the key differences that we talked about was where the information comes from. Propaganda tending to come from the government and advertising tending to be associated with corporations.

The effectiveness of propaganda seems to be dependent on who is pushing the information and how wide-spread it can be come. We were discussing in class whether or not propaganda for frugality would work in America today as it did during war-time efforts. I think the key point here is that it would have to be something that the government was behind and as we discussed in class, there would not be a reason for them to push that agenda right now as our economy is based off of consumerism. So instead of getting messages about frugality, we get propaganda more about how to shop and how to save but it is still focused on spending. All that aside, propaganda campaigns have proven to be really effective and I think if the government had a reason to promote frugality and actually did it, that it would be just as effective today as it was in the past. Frugality is not “saving” money necessarily or spending “differently”, it is re-using, using what you have, re-purposing, fixing things rather than throwing away, gardening, recycling, driving less, etc etc. There may be aspects of frugality focused on how to spend money but the core of this is going to be focused in these other areas. I think the key here would be the government putting out propaganda explaining to people why they are helping just as they did in the past which would appeal to people on an emotional level. I do think it would take some more time and extra persuading as people are really used to having what they want on demand now, but I could still see it being effective but only if it came from an authoritative source, not just from someone’s instagram account.

I do think COVID is a great example of how people initially respond when things they are normally entitled to are taken away. I worked as a server throughout the pandemic and I saw some truly outlandish behavior from the public when they couldn’t have what they were used to having. I think anyone working with the public during covid would have experienced this. In a lot of ways it brought out the worst in people, but that is also a very sudden shift and, at least to me, doesn’t have much to do with frugality. It was more like “go spend your money” but you cannot have “this, this, and this”.

I remember hearing about my great-grandmother and how she would re-use items such as foil and plastic bags since living through the great depression. She never wanted to purchase new things and I recall one story about a set of dinner plates she had. The plates no longer appealed to her but she refused to get rid of them without having a reason to and my great grandfather literally threw them out of the window so that they would break and she would get new ones. Pretty dramatic sounding over some plates, but I think it is interesting how the way she had to live continued to impact her life long after the depression was over and many people were returning to consumerism.

Morse Code Infographic

When I started working on this assignment, I wanted to think about the ways that Morse Code was used and how it evolved over time. There is a lot of great information that I found and I ended up narrowing it down to show some of the variety of ways the code itself was used, starting with the telegraph but expanding to seeing its use throughout a variety of industries and personal uses up until today.

In the infographic below, I wanted to convey beyond just that Morse Code was used in conjunction with the telegraph. I expanded to show a little bit about letters to show how the postal service remained intact and there was a continued use for sending mail even if it took longer, many people still did it.

Morse Code was used widely by a variety of enterprises and for private use to communicate information quickly. It was also used in Wireless transmitters on ships as well as used through the use of lights to convey messages.

Lastly, people still use Morse Code today and many people who use radios to communicate globally may still have a use for the semi-universal language of Morse code. While Morse code varies depending on the language, there are some signals that are relatively universal providing a quick means of communication to break some of the language barrier in communication. Some people also keep Morse Code alive today as a hobby.

Works Cited:

Smith, T. “Morse: The End of an Era?” Unesco Courier (Paris, France), no. Jul/Aug 1999 (1999): 65–.

“Postal and Telegraph Service.” Scientific American 33, no. 25 (1875): 391-391.

Cave Paintings

Thinking about and creating “cave paintings” through drawing makes me consider the different types of things we communicate and the depth of communication based on what type of technology is available for use for communicating. If you did not have paint, you could draw in the dirt, but it would be likely that the messages would not last as long. This would lead communication to be more short-term based and possibly repetitive. With the use of paint and caves, the effect is that the drawing can be more permanent or at least last longer. This would change the kinds of things that could be conveyed. There is still a lot of room for misinterpretation however, especially when it comes to nuances that go beyond a basic idea. For example, in a cave drawing you could probably illustrate “Sick people here” or some thing to that effect, but it would be much more difficult to convey what the people had, how long they had been sick, and/or details like what may have caused it. Today, using words instead of pictures gives people the ability to include more details, leaving less to the imagination.

When we were designing our cave painting to convey the message “instructions for playing cornhole” we made our drawing on the pretense that our audience would “get” the message since most people had the knowledge what that game was. We attempted to convey that it was instructions by using dots instead of numbers and showing a progression of stick figures playing the game. It was not difficult to come up with the drawing, but after seeing everyone’s reaction we realized there were other things we could have added to make it more obvious and a little less literal.