Landscapes of Global Capital
tv globe icon link to home slogans in the information/global economy
Thus, while the informational/global economy is distinct from the industrial economy, it does not oppose its logic. It subsumes it through technological deepening, embodying knowledge and information in all processes of material production and distribution on the basis of a gigantic leap forward in the reach and scope of the circulation sphere. In other words: the industrial economy had to become informational and global or collapse. (Manual Castells The Rise of the Network Society, 1996: 91-2)

Manuel Castells argues that this new economy is both informational and global. It is driven by the diffusion of information technology, specifically microelectronics, computers, and telecommunications. Growth and innovation are driven by the relentless pursuit of profitability. Thus the trajectory that the new information economy takes is driven by the logic of capital. In an information economy knowledge emerges as the most valuable commodity. What once were considered "intangible assets" now become the key component in the struggle over markets. Intellectual property becomes the watchword of the day as companies jockey for position to strategically and legally control patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc.

In the TV commercials, signifiers such as the eye and gazing into the sky have been used by corporations to suggest a visionary orientation to investment and technological innovation. Often signifiers of monks and priests are used to suggest deep knowledge and insight.

What if there was a box?
Full of knowledge
Insight
Ideas
Inventions
Answers
It would be a magic box
A box of amazing powers
IBM's magic box commercial captures the centrality of computer technology to the global information economy. IBM constructs its computer as a totemic object found in a range of cultural spaces. The music mixes female wailing with tribal rhythms to suggest the magic or ritualistic nature of this technology. Sprinkled through out the commercial are terms suggesting the power of information.

To increase brand value, signifiers of knowledge, vision, creativity, and imagination are commonly employed. An examination of corporate taglines confirms that they are saturated with these terms. Companies in sectors as diverse as automobiles, computers, finance, consulting, airlines, energy, and electronics draw on words associated with the application of knowledge. These slogans not only express the centrality of knowledge in corporate self-constructions but also are suggestive of the dynamic nature of capital.

THINK

IMAGINE

IDEAS

KNOWLEDGE

SLOGANS
Apple
Think Different.
Computer Associates
Software that can think.
Conoco
Think big. Move fast.
Dow
What good thinking can do.
Micron
Think beyond the box.
Britannica.com
What's on your mind?
Arthur Anderson
Helping in ways you never imagined.
Circuit City
Imagine that.
Hewlett Packard
The power of imagining now belongs to people.
Korean Air
Beyond Your Imagination.
CNF Transportation
Where Ideas Carry Weight.
EDS
From idea to implementation and lots of working lunches.
Ford
Better Ideas Driven By You
GTE
Moving ideas.
Nortel
How The World Shares Ideas
Digital DNA
The Heart of Smart
CIBC
Nobody knows more about growing companies.
Schwab
Information. Access. Control.
Lincoln Financial Group
Clear solutions in a complex world.
Cannon
Know how. Here's the future, let's get to work.
Invesco
You should know what Invesco knows.
How do you separate knowledge from noise?
This IBM campaign focuses on anxiety-ridden weary executives undertaking new projects without the necessary technical know-how. Here an executive discovers she is responsible to keep a system running. The informational economy isn't closed on Sundays. It must function continuously. Even momentary breakdowns are costly. Instead of selling computers IBM sells security, peace of mind, and logistical experience.

There are two stages in this new economy: the application of knowledge needed to produce the technology, hardware and infrastructure; and the knowledge necessary to install, maintain, and service the infrastructure. Even corporations like IBM and Compaq long associated with hardware are increasingly defining themselves as service companies. IBM has essentially withdrawn form the PC market and is repositioning itself as a service corporation. The magic box has been replaced by a network of boxes that need knowledge to connect and maintain them. While the magic box appears in different cultural settings, the network is global. Manuel Castells recognized this new emergent organizational form.

"Under the conditions of fast technological change, networks, not firms, have become the actual operating unit. In other words, through the interaction between organizational crisis and change and new information technologies a new organizational form has emerged as characteristic of the informational/global economy: the network enterprise" (1996:171)

Organizations must be efficiently and reliably tapped into the global informational network or networks that allow their functioning. Failure to do so limits profitability and results in market failure.


New Economic Formations
Commodification
Social Relations of Production
Information Economy

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© Copyright 1998-2003
Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey