National, State And Community Asset Mapping: Pennsylvania Essay Example For College

Abstract

Providing the members of a specific community with the necessary services is a challenging task unless the local infrastructure is flawless. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that the community institutions cooperate successfully. Thus, efficient healthcare services can be provided to the target population. The Indian Creek Foundation will be able to deliver the healthcare services of the necessary quality to the residents of the Pennsylvanian community as soon as social networks are incorporated into the information management process, and the local institutions start managing data faster and more successfully.

Main Body

To improve the well-being of a community, one must consider the unique intrinsic factors that affect its members. Which is even more important, the issues mentioned above must be considered as integral parts of a single system in which the community in question operates. As a result, the foundation for an all-embracive analysis can be created. Herein lies the significance of asset mapping (Cutts et al., 2016). Applying the principles of asset mapping to Pennsylvania will help develop the model for addressing the current environmental, societal, economic, and educational issues since it will shed light on the connection between these problems and, therefore, point to the solution, particularly, the use of sustainability in environment and economy.

Map.
Map.

Analysis

As the map provided above shows quite clearly, Pennsylvania has a rather well-developed system of institutions. The family-related services deserve a special mentioning as the part of the local social infrastructure that has branched out especially extensively and is now represented by a number of organizations. As a result, the families living in the community can receive the necessary support.

One must mention, though, that there seems to be a considerable lack of the institutions that represent the environmental stance of the Pennsylvania residents. The identified issue is especially important in the wake of a global concern for the sustainable use of the available resources and the environmental friendliness of the approaches used in modern industries. In fact, the local communities have been experiencing a significant need for the management of the issues related to the environment; for instance, the protection of endangered species, public parks, etc., has been on the agenda of the state for quite a while (Warner, Christie, Jackson, & Vengosh, 2013).

According to a recent study, the problems associated with waste management must be resolved as soon as possible: “The chloride concentrations 1.7 km downstream of the treatment facility were 2−10 times higher than any chloride concentrations recorded in any background western PA streams that we examined” (Warner et al., 2013). Therefore, it is strongly recommended that the environmental issues should be incorporated into the current approach toward the management of the social, economic, and financial issues of the Pennsylvanian community.

The current collaboration strategy used by the organizations listed above can be deemed as quite efficient in case of a crisis. For instance, should the community have to face serious economic issues, the family institutions will provide emotional support for the community families, the economic ones will outline the available solutions, the educational ones will shed light on the education options, the political ones will advocate for the residents’ rights on the statewide level, and the religious ones will provide spiritual support.

Similarly, in case of a health crisis, the institutions operating in the Pennsylvania community are likely to provide extensive support to its members. The identified issue is especially important for Indian Creek, the organization that addresses the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (Indian Creek Foundation, 2017).

One must admit, though, that there is a certain lack of connection between the representatives of different institutions in Pennsylvania at present. While the organizations operating in the context of a specific area can share the available information, which informs their decisions, the identified process becomes much more complicated when it comes to managing information within a chain of the local institutions belonging to different fields.

For instance, the connection between the economic organizations and the ones that address the religious issues is rather loose. Consequently, there is a threat that, in case of a crisis, some of the organizations will not be informed to the degree that will allow them to provide the residents with efficient and immediate support. As a result, the residents of the Pennsylvanian community will face the threat of suffering a severe crisis. Indian Creek may have to focus on promoting the active use of IT tools as the means of raising awareness in the community.

Therefore, there is a necessity to introduce the tool that could help the organizations and the community members manage information in a more efficient manner. For this purpose, the Indian Creek Foundation should consider modern media, particularly, social networks. Offering a way of transferring the relevant information within a stunningly short amount of time, social networks can serve as the means of informing every community member about a specific concern, as well as provide detailed instructions regarding the issue.

The focus on providing the target population with the relevant information in a manner as fast and expeditious as possible is bound to trigger a significant drop in the number and severity of health issues from which the residents of Pennsylvania suffer. One might argue that the connection between the management of health issues and the infrastructure of the community organizations is rather loose. However, a closer look at the subject matter will reveal that PTSD can be viewed as a result of significant health problems, such as substance abuse disorders (SUDs) (Ford, Russo, & Mallon, 2007). The latter, in their turn, often occur as a result, of the social, economic, and financial problems in the community:

Even in later stages of recovery, addressing issues other than SUD symptoms is often assumed to interfere with 12-step recovery or to trigger relapses. Several myths about trauma survivors and PTSD treatment perpetuate the philosophy of don’t tell, don’t treat with co-occurring PTSD–SUD. (Ford et al., 2007, p. 477)

Therefore, there is a need for the residents of the community to receive sufficient support from the local organizations especially in cases of disasters, economic and financial challenges, and other sources of distress. Furthermore, the healthcare system must be developed successfully so that the members of the community could receive the required support. To achieve the identified goal, Indian Creek will have to encourage cooperation between the Pennsylvanian organizations aimed at providing the target population with the access to the resources containing the relevant information, as well as the opportunities to receive the necessary services and study healthcare in depth.

In other words, the collaboration of the local healthcare institutions and educational organizations should be encouraged by introducing the latest IT tools for successful information management. Furthermore, the Pennsylvanian residents must be provided with the access to the databases containing detailed instructions about managing health issues and addressing the appropriate experts after detecting specific symptoms.

As far as the Pennsylvanian community is concerned, it will be safe to say that the local healthcare and social support organizations provide enough assistance to every single member of the community. Furthermore, the emphasis on equality, which is currently on the political agenda of the state, creates prerequisites for catering to the needs of all residents. As a result, the chances to assist the people from all cultural, social, and economic backgrounds are created.

Nevertheless, one must admit that the current approach toward addressing the needs of the community can be deemed as rather efficient. By using social networks as the means of building awareness and providing the community members with the relevant information about the societal, environmental, health- and education-related, and other factors that define the quality of peoples’ life, Indian Creek will be able to improve the target population’s well-being significantly. It is important to make sure that the available resources are used in a reasonable and sustainable way, and the adoption of the latest technological innovations will help make the current infrastructure more efficient.

As the analysis and the examples provided above have shown, it is crucial to create the basis for a healthier and a more sustainable attitude toward the use of community resources. Furthermore, there is a consistent need for the enhancement of the communication process. Even though most of the community members participate in the social media discussions, very few efforts are currently made to manage the current problems since they are not viewed as a part of the community development.

Therefore, a different attitude toward the subject matter must be promoted among the members of the Pennsylvanian community so that the identified dilemmas could be handled in an appropriate fashion. As soon as the members of the Pennsylvanian community realize that all processes in it are connected, and that a comprehensive model must designed to handle the emergent issues, a rapid improvement and successful management of the contemporary problems, particularly the ones associated with the environment and education, can be expected.

References

Cutts, T. F., King, R., Kersmarki, M., Peachey, K., Hodges, J., Kramer, S., & Lazarus, S. (2016). Chapter 6. Community asset mapping: Integrating and engaging community and health systems. In T. F. Cutts & J. R. Cochrane, Stakeholder health: Insights from new systems of health (pp. 73-96). Gaston, NC: FaithHealth, Inc.

Ford, J. D., Russo, E. M., & Mallon, S. D. (2007). Integrating treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder. Journal of Counseling & Development, 85(4), 475-490.

Indian Creek Foundation. (2017). Mission and philosophy of care. Web.

Warner, N. R., Christie, C. A. C., Jackson, R. B., & Vengosh, A. (2013). Impacts of shale gas wastewater disposal on water quality in western Pennsylvania. Environmental Science and Technology, 47(20), 11849-11857.

Artificial Intelligence: Ethical, Social, Legal Issues

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an exciting but very controversial field of informational technology. Some sources say that the further development of this field will be useful for the humankind and will help us to solve many problems, for example, find cures for more diseases, increase the lifespan, give new possibilities in the space travel and so on. At the same time, a lot of other sources claim that such kind of technologies will be harmful to their own creators and that the only good superintelligent machine is the unplugged one. The field of artificial intelligence indeed brings numerous ethical, social, professional and legal issues; but are those so disturbing as some people claim?

Ethical Issues

Let us start with ethical issues. The greatest concern is this regard is the threat to security. Any AI program, regardless of the level of intelligence it demonstrates, remains only a software. Thus, it has all the drawbacks that the software has. First of all, an AI program can be copied – as long as there are people who can do this and the hardware that can store it (Bostrom 2003). Surely, it can be not easy or quick but it can happen. And that is how valuable data can get into the wrong hands. Secondly, machines can make mistakes, which threats the security as well.

As an example, let us imagine that there is an intelligent vision program that scans people’s baggage at the airport (Bostrom & Yudkowsky 2014, p. 317). What if there is the flaw in the algorithms, because of which the program is unable to recognize a bomb if a pistol is put next to it? Such kind of a mistake is possible, and it threatens the security and safety of every person on the board.

Another great concern includes privacy issues. The boundary between the operation of AI programs and the violation of people’s privacy is rather thin. There are a lot of examples when artificial intelligence has been involved in large disputes because of the privacy violations. As Weeks (2012) writes in The Globe and Mail, many businesses use AI programs to collect and store data about their customers: personal data taken from social networks, the location information, shopping patterns, payment habits, and so on. They try to ‘track their customers’ to increase the profit but for a regular user that usually means the violation of his or her privacy (Weeks 2012, para. 3).

Joel Rosenblatt (2014) describes another example of privacy violation for marketing purposes: aiming to advertise their services to a greater number of customers, LinkedIn Corp. downloaded the contacts from their customers’ external e-mails used as usernames on the LinkedIn site and sent several advertising letters to those email addresses. Apart from AI applications in advertising, many other programs are argued to violate users’ privacy. A prime example is the speech recognition technology. The latest smartphones are able to recognize their users by voice, which, as some people claim, steals users’ identity: ‘Your voice doesn’t just give away who you are, but what you’re like and what you’re doing … Your speech is like your fingerprints or your DNA’ (Rutkin 2015, para. 7).

Finally, the development of intelligent technologies can gradually lead to the development of even more intelligent ones, so-called advanced intelligence or superintelligence, and that can happen suddenly (Bostrom 2003). Although it will probably solve or at least help the humankind to solve many problems, including poverty, incurable diseases, global environmental problems, and so on, if it is used for evil purposes, it can exacerbate many other problems.

As a prime example, AI can contribute to wars by creating advanced weaponry – autonomous weapons and military robots (Romportl, Zackova & Kelemen 2014). Some semi-autonomous weapons have already been used by the United States and North Korea, for example (Romportl, Zackova & Kelemen 2014). But even though these weapons did some part of work by themselves (identified the target, for instance), they were not fully autonomous.

With all of this in mind, the question arises: do we actually need artificial intelligence or is it safer to delay its development? The truth is there is also the other side of the debate. While many people claim that AI technologies constitute a threat to security, others prove that they can help to strengthen it as well. In his article for the 3rd International Conference on Cyber Conflict, Enn Tyugu (2011) explains why AI technologies are one of the best options to defend the cyberspace.

Considering the speed of the processes in the cyber defense, as well as the amount of data transferred, without at least the minimum atomization, people are unable to provide an appropriate defense. The situation becomes even more difficult in view of the development and intelligence of modern malware and the frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks (Tyugu 2011, p. 102). To handle all of this and be able to fight back, people need intelligent defense methods; otherwise, forces are not equal.

Additionally, many ethical issues and risks associated with artificial intelligence can be eliminated or at least minimized by particular precautions. Bostrom and Yudkowsky (2014) write that, in order to be safe, AI technologies should be predictable and transparent to inspections (to make the error detection possible and simple) and robust to manipulations to avoid such situations as the one with a bomb and a pistol described above. Although artificial intelligence is fraught with some new ethical problems and concerns, those can and should be solved as it has already been done with any other technological development.

Social Issues

Apart from ethical issues, the literature also talks about social ones. One of the most important is that artificial intelligence should contribute to peace, harmony, the wellbeing and the development of the population rather than increase the number of wars and battles in the world. AI applications and techniques improve medicine through analyzing complex data, helping with the diagnosis, treatment and even the prediction of the patient outcomes (Ramesh et al. 2004). Moreover, those can be used in almost any field of medicine (Ramesh et al. 2004). Artificial intelligence improves education by automating basic activities, providing tutoring AI programs, finding gaps in courses, and so on (10 Roles For Artificial Intelligence In Education 2015).

It can even contribute to psychology and help with people’s relations. In their article, Hergovich and Olbrich (2002) provide the review of several AI technologies that help to predict conflicts and calculate probabilities of those, determine the course of a dispute, and create peace negotiations for arguments. Finally, AI greatly accelerates the development of science. On the other hand, it can also be used to create advanced weapons. And the higher level of development this field of science reaches, the more impact on our society it has.

Another significant social concern is how people will interact with superintelligent machines if those are discovered. Kizza (2013) writes about a social paradox: people want to create machines that will do their work, but they do not want these machines to become too good in this work (p. 206). If they do achieve better intelligence than humans have, people become afraid of them, which brings many questions about the cooperation between people and intelligent agents created by them.

However, Ramos, Augusto, and Shapiro (2008) state that this problem can be addressed with the help of ambient intelligence, which helps to create technologies that are sensitive and responsive to people’s presence. If superintelligent machines are aware of people’s needs, can adapt to different environments (such as houses, schools, hospitals, offices, sports, and so on) and interact with people, they will have more chances to be accepted by their creators (Ramos, Augusto & Shapiro, 2008).

Finally, the last controversial question discussed in the literature is the one connected to professional and legal aspects. As Elkins (2015) writes in her article in Business Insider, experts predict that by 2025 robots will take over one-third of all people’s professions. Even now, robots work in health care centers assisting doctors and start to learn some white-collar jobs, which earlier seemed to be challenging for them (Elkins 2015). If the predicted outcome happens, and one-third of people’s jobs are performed by intelligent machines, it will not only change our economic system significantly but will also bring many legal issues. First of all, should robots be given the same rights as people have? Should they be protected by the Constitution or provided with full civil rights, which includes the right to reproduce (Elkins 2015)?

Additionally, if an intelligent machine commits a crime, should it be responsible for it, as a human being is responsible for theirs? Although it sounds unrealistic and even funny, something like that has already happened. An intelligent shopping robot developed for purchasing purposes managed to buy a Hungarian passport and Ecstasy pills (Elkins 2015). That time, a robot has not been charged (Elkins 2015). However, if something like this happens again, who is responsible for that? While many people claim that intelligent agents should be given with more or less the same rights and responsibilities that people have, Jack Millner (2015) believes, and I agree, that robots will need new legislations established for them.

To conclude, the development of artificial intelligence is indeed fraught with many controversial questions and problems. AI can give our society many positive things such as the advanced education, medicine, breakthroughs in science, and so on. At the same time, it increases the risk of wars and brings numerous unsolved professional and legal issues. Nevertheless, from my point of view, the greatest problem about artificial intelligence is the humankind, even though it sounds paradoxical. People have always been afraid of everything new, and the possibility of the creation of machines, which are more intelligent than humans, is frightening as well. Besides, many ethical and social problems can be solved, and even legal issues can be regulated. The only really insoluble problem is the one about wars and weaponry. That is highly unlikely that superintelligent technologies will take over the world and destroy it, but people can do it by themselves.

Reference List

10 Roles For Artificial Intelligence In Education 2015.

Bostrom, N & Yudkowsky, E 2014, ‘The ethics of artificial intelligence’, in K Frankish & W Ramsey (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Artificial Intelligence, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 316-334.

Bostrom, N 2003, ‘Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence’, Cognitive, Emotive and Ethical Aspects of Decision Making in Humans and in Artificial Intelligence, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 12-17.

Elkins, K 2015, Experts predict robots will take over 30% of our jobs by 2025 — and white-collar jobs aren’t immune.

Hergovich, A & Olbrich, A 2002, ‘What can Artificial Intelligence do for Peace Psychology?’, Review of Psychology, vol. 9, no. 1-2, pp. 3-11.

Kizza, JM 2013, Ethical and Social Issues in the Information Age, 5th edn, Springer, New York, New York.

Millner, J 2015, Should robots have human rights?

Ramesh, AN, Kambhampati, C, Monson, JR & Drew, PJ 2004, ‘Artificial intelligence in medicine’, Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, vol. 86, no. 5, pp. 334-338.

Ramos, C, Augusto, JC & Shapiro, D 2008, ‘Ambient Intelligence – the Next Step for Artificial Intelligence’, IEEE Computer Society, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 15-18.

Romportl, J, Zackova, E & Kelemen, J 2014, Beyond Artificial Intelligence: The Disappearing Human-Machine Divide, Springer, New York, New York.

Rosenblatt, J 2014, LinkedIn Ordered to Face Customer E-Mail Contacts Lawsuit. Web.

Rutkin, A 2015, Speech recognition AI identifies you by voice wherever you are.

Tyugu, E 2011, Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Defense, Web.

Weeks, C 2012, Dear valued customer, thank you for giving us all of your personal data.

Social Media Effects On Consumer Behaviour

Introduction

Social media creates a platform where businesspeople communicate and/or interact with their customers. Through social media, companies market their products to reach worldwide consumers. Social media platforms are increasingly being caught up in voyeurism, gaze, and shadowing since many people have been connected to the internet, thanks to the advancement of technology. As such, with the current adoption of this technology in business, the use of social media has culminated in image economy whereby pictures, photos, and some other vital business contents are exposed to public regarding a certain business entity, a person, or an organisation.

Such information, images, and pictures about a specific product or organisation will possibly influence consumer behaviour, both positively and negatively in the industry. This paper will bring to light the effects of the image economy on consumer behaviour. Besides, it will use the WikiLeaks Company, specifically the case of Julian Assange and The Guardian newspaper, to show the implications of image economy to consumer behaviour and the world at large.

Effects of Image Economy on the Society

Following the deployment of image economy in advertisements and promotions, businesses are required to provide stable relationships with their customers rather than providing one-sided sale. Therefore, organisations should establish narratives through images, photos, declarations, or informative documentaries that endorse their merchandise culture, as opposed to presenting the returns alone. This marketing strategy by the image economy exerts more costs and responsibilities in consumer motivation and attraction. Unfortunately, not all companies can cope with the technology of product motivation.

Therefore, only the financially stable companies that can dominate in terms of consumer preference and standards will survive. This situation is a challenge to other inferior businesses. Societies are pushed into making misinformed buying decisions where they purchase products, which they happen to see their images online, not questioning their authenticity. Hence, the image economy is bound to expose the society to counterfeit products, which may in turn have a negative impact on the consumers’ health. Does it mean that the image economy was established to harm the society? It is crucial to investigate the force behind image economy in an attempt to see how its establishment has evolved to become a challenge to the society.

The effects of social media on the business economy are broad and diverse. Nevertheless, the use of social media to promote and run businesses has had far-reaching challenges that inhibit consumer behaviour (Zarella 2010).

Tracking negative or misleading information is among the challenges that the image economy has caused through the social media. Social media is a tool that harbours enormous conversation involving a large group of connected people or businesses around the world. For instance, it is difficult for an organisation to track any misleading information, pictures, photos, or statements about their brands in all social media platforms. Therefore, the burden to track the misleading perceptions about the company’s products or brands becomes broader (Zarella 2010). These effects, which are linked to social media, may continuously affect clients’ purchasing power of specific products, following the negative exposure of the statements or information that is portrayed through image economy.

Unfortunately, some companies’ employees who have a deeper knowledge of the companies’ confidential information may reveal it through the social media image economy. The information may damage a company’s competitive advantage by paving a way for its competitors to deploy and even alter the information in favour of their clients. Initially, before the advancement of technology to internet-guided communication, a memo that was dispatched to an incorrect address or correspondence could be recovered without any damage to the sender or recipient.

However, through social media’s online economy image, once information or statement is publicised, it is impossible to undo the publicity since the information (image) spreads within seconds to masses. The perspectives about the product rank or individual’s reputation of the exposed company will influence the consumers’ purchasing power (Whitely 1984). Broadly, the consumption of the company’s products or brands may experience a sales decline due to the destroyed reputation exposure through the image economy.

It has become tricky for a business to keep an eye on workers’ online endeavours and/or stop them from releasing disapproved images, declarations, or information concerning the business through such online platforms. Even though it is upon the employees to have freedom to use social media to assert their responsibilities online, such freedom, which comes with the risk of a misleading post about the company’s perceived objectives and goals can destroy its reputation or cause investors to shy away from the company (Whitely 1984). The information that is exposed in the form of photos, statements, or pictures can cause low sales volume since consumers may not be willing to be associated with the company’s distorted picture.

Traditionally, negative experiences of a brand or product of a company were contained within the company’s framework. Nevertheless, the stories of bad experiences with company’s dissatisfying brands, products, or individuals spread quickly through the social media platforms. It is always hard for the organisations to handle the information from the community. Consequently, the products’ reputation and that of the company may be damaged. In return, competitors end up utilising the situation as their survival tool to convince consumers to prefer their better products. Therefore, a well-structured social technology will definitely capture the society’s attention in the context of preferences and tastes. As Zarella (2010) reveals, maintaining consumers requires a constant review of customer relations in line with online feedbacks and results.

The society’s participatory culture is the main element that is affected most by published media. The current progress in technologies, mainly private laptops and the internet, has simplified the process of tracking individuals, products, and information across the online platforms. In terms of the participatory culture, consumers respond creatively to electronic signals, images, photos, and commodities (Zarella 2010). The increasing access to the internet plays an important role in the expansion of participatory culture since it makes it easy for the society to collaborate with companies, generate, and disseminate creative ideas. This culture has faced some challenges following the introduction of the image economy (Ibrahim 2010).

The mutual relationship between businesses and the society pushes different consumers to be actively involved in buying and marketing regarding of a product or brand. The challenge that comes with the image economy is that it forces many consumers to be actively involved in irrelevant activities that tarnish the reputation and consequently the demand for a company’s products. This situation is evident when the publicised image does not appeal to the client. Moreover, the society is challenged in terms of determining whether a certain product image is worth the attached price and/or whether it is safe for its consumption. This situation can be illustrated using self-service restaurants and gas service stations, which have recently been introduced into the online market. The trend seems to have been copied by many industries whereby consumers perform different tasks by themselves as it is witnessed in banks through ATMs.

In terms of education, the effects of image economy with respect to social media include the participation gap, transparency problem, and the ethics problem. In terms of participation gap, the image economy poses a burden to the education system since it does not guarantee that all learners will get equal access of the image and/or interpret it as it intended. Such an individual may end up publicising information about an organisation after wrongly interpreting an image.

Hence, the issue of accountability comes into play (Whiteley1984). It is not easy to hold any social media user accountable of any post that he or she makes online. The most important role of social media in the education system is to teach learners how to embrace technology and/or correctly capture and interpret information (Ibrahim n.d). However, lack of clear guidelines on what the image economy can share with the society has been a challenge. Therefore, the society has been forced to consume immoral images and information, not because it chooses to do so, but because it has no power to dictate the boundaries of the image economy.

Much of the information that people share via the internet platform is personal. Image economy compromises the aspect of privacy. Technology has gone to the extent of allowing the distortion of a person’s image, even without his awareness. Nude photos of high-esteemed business people have been shared online. Although such images do not depict the real situation of the nude businessperson, it becomes difficult for the society to be convinced that it is not interacting with immoral businesspeople (Whitley 1984).

This situation has economic implications in terms of product consumption. In addition, there has been a problem of transparency of internet contents. The society has been tempted to invest in counterfeit online organisations without questioning their credibility. The society tends to rely much on what is put on display (Zarella 2010). Therefore, it is very important for learners and the society to get the right interpretation of the social media statements, photos, images, and information and determine whether the images are linked to wrong products or they have been distorted at the expense of manufacturing company.

With reference to social networking sites, individuals usually create and share pictures, photos, and pages through the internet platforms. Comments and posts by people from different career industries often accompany these images and pictures. Adults are expected to portray maturity. Their posts may include families or trips they went with their friends and relatives. However, teenagers’ posts reveal different messages since they seek to please the viewers. The online photos or pictures may reveal underage drinking, smoking, and partying. The state of the society is put to test since it has to consume these unprincipled images without holding any person accountable (Ibrahim 2010).

Some images end up influencing and/or pulling upright society members into such unrefined habits of sharing other people’s images, irrespective of their business positions. These inappropriate photos or pictures damage the reputation of the person whose image appears on the social sites. If the person holds a key position in an organisation, the society extends such a negative perception to the entire organisation.

Due to the constant use of technology, image economy is bound to dominate the society and/or influence its perceptions and beliefs. Through the image economy, the products’ public image and perceptions greatly affect the consumer decision-making process (Ibrahim n.d). Therefore, any information that aims to deflect from humanity in a way that it causes behaviour-conflict between individuals in the social media interactions leads to reduced confidence in the person from whom the idea originates (Whitely 1984). This image presentation lowers the individuals’ humanity. In addition, image economy affects the individuals and hence the society by isolating direct business and constructive interactions.

Furthermore, most of the employee workweek is spent in managing internal information and emails and/or tracking specific individuals who can help in specific tasks in the merchandise production process. Much appeal is achieved via image economy since quicker, competent, and successful partnership is possible among diverse ventures (Whitely 1984).

Generally, the amount of benefits that companies can reap from social technologies varies across different industries. In fact, organisations, which have invested highly in their human resources, can attain recommendable merchandise perfection in terms of goods or service superiority and cost-effectiveness through faster communication within the company social websites. Similarly, the organisations that focus heavily on the society’s contribution towards their profitability can possibly derive benefits from social media platform interactions. The companies can deeply monitor the conversations to achieve a higher brand image that is favourable and more preferred by the consumer (The Spyfiles 2001).

Therefore, for businesses to realise the utmost profits of the online platforms, especially the image economy, there is a need for them to streamline and renovate their practices and traditions to capture the confidence of the community. The WikiLeaks Company’s provides a working illustration of how the image economy has become a challenge to the society.

The WikiLeaks Case Study

The WikiLeaks Spy Files case study shows how the image economy has greatly enhanced the revelations of hidden facts in the modern world. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, had made a deal to partner with The Guardian newspaper to bring reports to the public. However, WikiLeaks parties were intelligent enough to gather facts that The Guardian had been concealing in favour of the US government, but at the expense of the society’s contribution. For instance, deploying the image economy technology, Assange publicised a scenario where US military forces in an aeroplane massacred innocent Iraqi news reporters.

The forces also went ahead and killed other people who had come to rescue the reporters. According to the report by the WikiLeaks, companies make a huge amount of money through illegal and confidential transactions at the expense of the society that tirelessly struggles to have its money ‘saved’ in banks (The Spyfiles 2001). WikiLeaks further gathered facts about several financial institutions that had been amassing funds by withdrawing its clients’ money without their consents. WikiLeaks goal was to have this immoral actions addressed and corrected to save the losing consumer. The deployment of image economy helped him to reach masses of consumers who then raised the alarm to have all corrupt companies, banks, and even people investigated.

Evidently, in the consumer image economy, some challenges are bound to occur with respect to the revelation of hidden information and facts about some companies. The effects that are likely to occur include damaged product and individual reputation and economic and political instability. The image economy operates on reputation. In the business field, consumer behaviour is bound to deflect accordingly if any bad image is created against a company or an individual.

The WikiLeaks Company’s agenda is to present crucial hidden facts to the society. The goal is to help the society to understand where the legitimacy lies. When the social media exposes illicit business operations through WikiLeaks’ Spy Files information, consumers will shift from buying the victimised company’s products due to the general public reputation damage (The Spyfiles 2001). For instance, at the dawn of 2009, WikiLeaks exposed 86-handset intercept footage of Peruvian political leaders and executives who participated in the 2008 Peruvian oil outrage. Such publicity revealed the truth behind the scandal while at the same time helping to let the participants face the law.

In addition, the effect of image economy through social media and networking causes unstable political systems. From the WikiLeaks report on Spyfiles (2001, Para. 5), ‘when citizens overthrew the dictatorships in Egypt and Libya this year, they uncovered listening rooms where devices…monitored their every move online and on the phone.’ Image economy helped Egypt to conquer authoritarian political administration (The Spyfiles 2001).

The process of overthrowing the regime was enhanced through tracking of individual phone conversations of various leaders before the capture. This revelation had great political and economical implications such that citizens had to change their voting decisions to focus on other democratic leaders. Moreover, the public domain seems to be controlled by the tracking companies that monitor the hidden businesses (Zarella 2010).

WikiLeaks has helped the society to get the best services from all businesses since they (businesses) are now aware that any misconduct can be monitored and shared with consumers, thanks to the image online economy. Once the company releases any negative information, for instance, concerning the telecommunications sector, consumers of the telecommunications have to change their consumption behaviours of products and services that are associated with such a sector.

Critique

The above theory reveals how today’s world of business has been dominated by visual consumption where product images have been deployed to lure customers to purchase items from any company, regardless o its geographical location. Contemporary clients are captured by what they see, rather than what they have tasted. Developers of the image economy were keen to observe this behaviour, although it was initially happening in business stores such as supermarkets where customers could go ahead and purchase good, not because they are familiar with them, but because they looked visually appealing to them.

Many of them could regret having bought items that could not find any useful application in their lives. This observation presents image economy as an ill-driven concept that does not have the needs of many customers at heart. It is clear that businesspersons have taken advantage of this weak point to drive in the visual consumption concept to customers whom they are supposed to be advising on how they can make the best buying decisions to enjoy value for their money. Hence, unless this form of corruption is addressed and/or replaced with new customer-friendly buying mechanisms, the whole concept of visual consumption, and hence image economy will remain a scam whose agenda is to exploit customers.

One expects the advancement of technology to simplify many activities. Technology has brought into live many media platforms through which businessperson can interact with clients in real time, irrespective of the distance. Technology has boosted globalisation to the extent that a company in the far west of the Asian continent can transact comfortably with another one in the east of the American continent. Marx’s theory of class and exploitation comes in handy to reveal the motive behind the image economy. The theory shows how high social class people whom he refers to as bourgeoisie develop business mechanisms whose outward appearance presents them as if they are helpful to the customer. However, Marx confirms how this class has deployed the image economy to abuse customers’ hard-sought money.

The image economy has defied the issue of privacy since no guidelines have been set to define the extent to which a third party can utilise another party’s data without permission. This claim is synonymous with the way people have utilised online media platforms to post product images to as many people as possible. Since no one questions, even if permission is not granted, to have the product retrieved from the company’s website and shared to other people, regardless of whether they are interested or not, other parties have gone ahead to infringe on companies’ right to privacy and confidential information.

Borrowing from Julian Assange’s case, although he worked within his mandate and mission of delivering information to the society in the name of revealing to it what usually happens behind the scenes, his degree of utilising image economy to invade The Guardian newspaper is questionable and worthy penalising. It is offensive to collaborate secretly with staff members to gather confidential information that is not worth publicising. Besides, Assange’s move to announce the status of some financial institutions is unrefined. Deploying the image economy to show the public issues that relate to banks’ bankruptcy can be likened to enjoying an individual’s ailing condition.

Hence, a panel that includes all stakeholders should establish guidelines such that the potential that comes with the image economy can be tapped to benefit all people, regardless of their position in the value chain. There should be clear policies that shun the emergence of counterfeit companies, and hence goods so that customers do not regret buying products online after seeing their images only to realise that they do not exist. Media companies should demonstrate their commitment to work with their employees towards a common goal.

Conclusion

The image economy comes along with social media to promote and reach distant consumers in the business world. Nevertheless, the image economy poses some challenges to the society and businesses. Businesses have deployed the image economy to share counterfeit goods to lure consumers to purchase them without providing a clear description of their authenticity. Since the society tends to be attracted by images, many people end up regretting after realising that the deals were counterfeit.

From another perspective, the image economy has exposed the society to demoralising information and images, which have tempted previously morally upright people into engaging in immoral behaviours. Following the evident lack of accountability concerning what is shared online, WikiLeaks, which the paper has deployed as a case study, has been established to monitor any illegal dealings. Its agenda is to expose such immoral arrangements to the society to help it discern the truth from counterfeit information or merchandise.

References

Ibrahim, Y 2010, ‘The Regulation of Gaze and Capture: New Media and the Image Economy’, International Journal of Technoethics, vol. 1 no. 3, pp. 49-63. Web.

Ibrahim, Y n.d, The Politics of Watching: Visuality and the New Media Economy, Queen Mary University of London, London. Web.

The Spyfiles 2001, WikiLeaks: The Spy Files. 

Whitely, R 1984, The Intellectual and Social Organisation of the Sciences, Clarendon Press, Oxford. Web.

Zarella, D 2010, The Social Media Marketing Book, O’ Reily Media, Sebastopol, CA. Web.

error: Content is protected !!