by Rushina Ansari on March 12, 2014


If it was not for the culture jammers to tear down billboard messages and if it were the technology geeks to innovate so as to change the linearity of  billboards and make the outdoor medium a space for social interaction then perhaps it is not activism but a dignified form of technology innovation.

Many case studies have shown that the role of democracy is not implied or a given in the Information age with the mere availability of the new media channels. For example, Pieterse (Incommunicado Reader, p.23) points out that the emphasis on technology is inappropriate and is often inspired by commercial interests – ICT4C.

I would like to bring forth some examples (follow the links) of how technology innovates to enable the possibility of social interaction in Media and how it is often hijacked by brands to promote its commercial interests. The new era of stylish interactive billboards may after all redefine the way we look at outdoor media but presently the use of this medium is dominated by corporates to show off their technological prowess rather than create a meaningful dialogue. This is an argument that Naomi Klein (1999) has pointed out in her book No Logo (Group 2 blog) and the trend continues. However, the example of the water generating billboard in Peru gives us an idea of how technology innovations in outdoor media can be utilized more meaningfully – ICT4D.




Maria March 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

This is an excellent and innovative story! Indeed what a challenge to compete for the visibility and space often taken over by corporations. And it also shows that billboards are still very relevant for activism. See also: http://culturejammed.tumblr.com/

Rushina Ansari March 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm

The challenge remains the same inspite of technology innovations, just that the outdoor Culture Jammers now will have to be equipped with more than spray cans and wit – they will also need to encode to make their point

Civil_Disobedience March 20, 2014 at 1:34 am

Rushina, your post is most relevant. Projected commericals I’ve never seen though (like “Jameson”), but the screens are very disturbing which are also giving metropolitan, skyscraper-feeling views like this:http://torontoist.com/2011/12/led-billboards-threaten-transparency-safety-and-the-public-space/20111211ledbillboards1/

Back in time, with a non-profit organization, we have organized events and also projected, for instance, at the local Opera Festival, or to the country’s first stone/built theater’s wall – meanwhile, mixed and played music. That was useful, too, I think, as the audio and picture messages made think the people passing by. Here, I really liked the idea of the water generator, but the ING basket-app seemed really hard to understand at first, by function, then by purpose, as you also pointed out. About Maria’s link, I can say, that this way of messaging, creating and culture jamming is the one I like the most – the newspaper stand and re-creating meanings and purposes to things that are already there, or by putting them into new context. We may wish for and create more ICT4D!:)

Rushina Ansari March 20, 2014 at 6:52 am

You are right, infact we did a project with Rosengard in Sweden which was both participatory and entertaining. I think there should be some reforms that need to keep a check that the interactivity of these new tech innovations should be utilized for c4d and not let it be taken away by the corporates as it usually happens and like your link shows creates a lot more of visual noise.

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