[This is a tentative article on ads/branding (or information, I can't choose) based on Klein's No Logo. Feel free to pitch ideas, sources, etc. This is the intro. 1st part ("No Space") due by the end of the week.]
Lately, I have been interested in the dissemination of information. More than ever, information is accesible, yet we are still facing problems related to it. Sometimes there is too much of it, sometimes it is hard to find, and sometimes it has been corrupted.
Slashdot, news-dedicated networks who show the same stories every 30 minutes, news websites like fark, so-called "blogs" are doing more or less the same thing: feeding somewhat formatted information to their target audience. I say "target" because those newsfeeds are not unbiased. There are differences between Fox and CNN viewers, and you can see that by looking at how they each report the same story (not all of the stories, of course).
This in itself is not a bad thing. The bad thing is not being aware of each newsfeeds' biases. Which seems to be what a lot of us are missing. But it's not anormal when you think about it. Before being able to filter info, you have ot have enough of it, which is what the internet boom of the '90s was all about.
Now, we have come to the next step of our evolution: filtering. Filtering simply means being aware of where your information comes from and what its potential flaws might be. It also means actively looking for alternative viewpoints for the same event and being aware when a viewpoint is being shoved down your throat.
This diversity and heterogenization of our information will be crucial for survival. Intuitively, it makes sense. A group of people that think alike is boring. No valuable discussion comes from this group, no new ideas come (nor are they encouraged) from it. Evolution (in the naturalistic sense) takes chaos, mayhem, and sometimes chance. Different opinions broaden our minds and are a fertile ground for new ideas and concepts.
That is why I am currently fascinated by advertising and branding. Ads are the most ubiquitous forms of (biased) information. They can as objective as the news, and are very efficient. They are also useful for obvious historical purposes: they reflect the views of their time. All and all, they can provide valuable insight into the mechanisms used to propagate information.