Landscapes of Global Capital
tv globe icon link to home the faces of Generation D
WorldCom03-00
WorldCom03-00
WorldCom03-00
"It's not an age, it's an attitude."
They're young
And some just think that way
The people in companies that were born digital
Or reborn
As comfortable with data as the last generation was with the telephone
As long as they have the right set of tools
And the right company behind them
"For these people, the only questions are, 'How much faster can I go?' And, 'what are the possibilities?''

Like Pepsi, WORLDCOM also extends the notion of generation beyond age as merely an ascriptive category. The Pepsi Generation who valued fun, excitement and caffeinated leisure are now part of this emerging corporate class defined by their relationship to technology. This imagined generation is hailed as WORLDCOM's totem group. Blending tech skills, corporate vision, youthful exuberance and Gap style Gen D's thrive on techno-social change. Work is play. This is the new way.

While we usually think of a biography as a book length manuscript that covers a person's life from birth to death, here biography is hypersignified by a glance. We are positioned to imagine the rest. To be born digital is to exhibit a certain habitus, ways of seeing and doing that are so deeply internalized they are experienced as natural, like being born a gentleman. However, the habitus of generation d denies race, gender, and social class, even though the signifiers of social class are overabundant. For example, reliance on off-center portraiture to connote intelligence is a bourgeois aesthetic device. Generation replaces social class as a classificatory device. Class connotes structure and hindrance; generation suggests choices, movement and progress.

Drawing on Althusser's notion of interpellation and Levi-Strauss' ideas about totemism, Judith Williamson observes that one precondition of successful commodity advertising is that it must appellate us. Here, in this ad, the viewer is hailed as if we are part of the group that exists in the ad. The product often assumes totemic status representing and embodying the ideal qualities of the imagined group. The brand logo focuses and defines the totemic identifications.

For example, the Pepsi generation represented an imaginary group that was fun-loving, youthful, and leisure-oriented. To drink Pepsi, the ads intimated, is to see oneself as part of the imagined group, in this case a function of the coordinates of market research. Like commodity advertising, corporate branding also attempts to give its logo totemic status by associating the ideal, imagined group with its brand. It simultaneously constitutes and is constituted by these branded characteristics.

In this campaign WORLDCOM positions itself as a corporation filled with technological problem solvers neither constrained by hierarchy nor structure. WORLDCOM's generation d campaign defines its employees as cool and confident, 'in the know' and itself as an innovative corporation with a defiantly relaxed and unalienated corporate culture. Most importantly, it opens space for its potential customers to participate in the characteristics that it associates with generation d. WORLDCOM sells freedom from techno anxiety through feel good associations (unlike IBM which uses techno-terror to push up the anxiety quotient to point that a business person can only cry for help). Even the background music for this campaign is melodic, upbeat corporate techno further heightening the sense of confidence that exudes the portraits. Gen Ds know where the world is going and backed by WORLDCOM they are the one's taking it there.


New Economic Formations
Commodification
Social Relations of Production
Information Economy
According to The Word Spy

Generation D, noun. The generation that has grown up with and is completely at home with digital devices and digital culture.

Backgrounder: "...here's the earliest citation I could find for the "digital generation" sense of the phrase. "It was only a few years ago that the majority of our patrons were encountering computers and computer-based resources for the first time in our libraries.

Their lack of familiarity with both the hardware and the software created an instant demand for assistance at the reference desk. Increasingly, computer savvy clientele no longer need as much support to use the hardware. We are no longer talking about Generation X or Y, but Generation D, the digital generation."

Peggy A. Seiden, "Where Have All the Patrons Gone?" Reference & User Services

The schemes of the habitus, the primary forms of classification, owe their specific efficacy to the fact that they function below the level of consciousness and language, beyond the reach of introspective scrutiny or control by the will. Orienting practices practically, they embed what some would mistakenly call values in the most automatic gestures or the apparently most insignificant techniques of the body (ways of walking or blowing one's nose, ways of eating or talking) and engage the most fundamental principles of construction and evaluation of the social world, those which most directly express the division of labour (between the classes, the age groups and the sexes) or the division of the work of domination, in divisions between bodies and between relations to the body which borrow more features than one, as if to give them the appearances of naturalness, from the sexual division of labour and the division of sexual labour. (Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction, 1984: 466)
But the more subtle level on which the advertisement works is that of 'alreadyness', which is where 'totemism' becomes a part of ideology: you do not simply buy the product in order to become a part of the group it represents: you must feel that you already, naturally, belong to that group and therefore you will buy it. (Judith Williamson, Decoding Advertisements, 1978: 47)

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Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey