Historical Ad Analysis: Firearms

Firearms have been part of the American culture since the 1600’s. They were a frontiersman’s best friend and truest companion; a necessity that no colonial settler could do without. However, firearms of this period were largely homemade. Mass production had not been perfected and each individual firearm, even if it was the same model made by the same company, was unique. Due to this, there was very little advertising of firearms in early America. Frontiersmen acquired them through barter or produced them themselves, negating the need for purchase from a large-scale manufacturer. This all changed when Samuel Colt adapted the standardization of parts to be used in the production of firearms. Now, every Colt revolver was identical to the next, with interchangeable components. This made firearms easier to acquire, repair, and more reliable, adding to the gun’s marketability. A decade after this event, in the 1910’s, we see the beginning of the mass marketing of firearms to the general public. The three selected ads are all from this early period of marketing and are from three separate companies advertising three separate models of firearm.

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The first ad is from the Colt Firearms Company, the oldest mass producer of guns in the world. It depicts the Colt .45 model 1911 automatic pistol, enlarged and at the center of the ad, surrounded by words of praise and various accolades it has accumulated from government and military officials who had just adopted it as the official firearm of the U.S. armed forces. Above the image in bold font lies the word “VICTORY”. By use of the government praise, the advertisement is attempting to persuade the potential buyer, most likely a male, that if the Colt is good enough for the entire military then it must be good enough for the average Joe like him. This is very effective as a marketing strategy because the typical purchaser of firearms at this time period were middle class male citizens looking for effective protection. The military pedigree effectively assures the buyer that the stopping power is efficient because it leads to the assumption that if the military would bring this pistol into combat to deal with a trained enemy soldier, then it must be good against a home invader or street thug. In the early 20th century, firearms were purchased mainly for self-defense, just like they are today. So assuring that it is good enough to protect a soldier from a well-armed opponent is very convincing to a civilian looking for a powerful tool of self-defense. In addition, the word “VICTORY” naïvely connotes that, with possession of this firearm, the shooter would be assured to come out on top in all of his altercations. This further instills confidence in the purchaser and persuades them to buy the firearm.

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The above advertisement is from the Iver Johnson Revolver Company. It depicts a uniformed police officer apprehending one suspect and defending himself from another assailant with the Iver Johnson revolver. Above the scene is depicted the slogan “always ready,” alluding to the reliability of the pistol. The add also goes on to depict the revolver’s various safety features, stating, very presumptuously, that “accidental discharge is impossible.” This ad exaggerates a great deal about the capabilities of the Iver Johnson revolver. The scene depicted carries the connotation that the power given to the officer in trouble by the Iver Johnson revolver allows him to single handedly overcome two armed assailants. This greatly exaggerates the power given to the user of the weapon and falsely gives law enforcement endorsement of the product through the use of a police officer as the individual in danger. In addition, the statement that an accidental discharge is impossible is plainly false. Accidental discharges occur for a number of reasons besides gun design, and the gun design could eventually fail. Therefore, this statement is entirely presumptuous. It is an attempt in trying to instill confidence in the buyer that the gun would be perfectly safe to the user so he will be more likely to buy it over other models. Despite this fact, the advertisement would be overall successful to an entry-level firearms buyer through its depiction of power transfer to the weapon’s carrier and its assurances of user safety.

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The final advertisement is from the Winchester Firearms Company. It depicts a lone cowboy, backed up into a cliff by a raging grizzly bear, about to defend himself with a Winchester rifle. This particular ad is all about image and the imagination of the potential customer. It puts the idea in the customer’s mind that if they purchase a Winchester, they will be prepared to overcome any obstacle and begin a life of dangerous adventure. This is a very naïve and unrealistic assumption that is conferred to the customer. Just because one owns a certain firearm, this does not mean that the firearm dictates their life following the purchase. The image connotes immense life saving capabilities of the Winchester, as well as conferring the notion that a Winchester can get an individual out of the stickiest of situations. Due to the fact that this ad is so far-fetched, I do not think it would be very effective to serious gun buyers. However, it is very memorable and gives the customer great brand recognition of the Winchester line of rifles.

All of the above advertisements shared one critical similarity: they stressed the gun’s importance in protecting oneself from lethal danger. All of them connote that an individual is doomed do die in perilous circumstances without a firearm to assist them. The ads cement the firearm as critical to comfortable living for the average man. Another trend of these advertisements was the use of the firearm’s pedigree as a selling point. The Colt used the government’s use of it as an endorsement of its capabilities to the average man, as was done by the police’s use for the Iver Johnson revolver and the cowboy’s use for the Winchester. Each respective firearm’s use by well-respected entities gave the purchase of said firearm an effect of supposedly giving the buyer the power of those entities. All in all, these ads reveal a profound insecurity in American society. The need for men to have firearms in order to sufficiently protect themselves and their families, as is depicted in the rhetoric of the three adds, shows that in comparison to other societies, American masculinity in the early 1900’s was very weak. Such affinity for guns was not seen in other societies. In addition, other societies advertised their firearms as for sporting, not home defense, like in the United States. This trend in how firearms were sold reveals that the gun had become a crutch for a male populace either incapable of, or too insecure to, protect itself from danger.

Works Cited

Colt Firearms. “Victory” [213]. Advertisement. Scribner’s Magazine 1911. BrownUniversity Repository. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Iver Johnson Revolvers. “Are Always Ready”. Advertisement. Metropolitan MagazineOnline Museum for Iver Johnson Arms. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Winchester Repeating Arms Company. [Winchester Calendar]. Advertisement. Winchester Calendar 1917. Huffington Post. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Human Photosynthesis?

Out of all of the objects presented on Sara Hendren’s blog, what immediately caught my attention was Burton Nitta’s “algaculture symbiosis suit.” Its premise is an extraordinary one. In theory it allows humans to become photosynthetic when wearing the apparatus. The suit accomplishes this task by facilitating a symbiotic relationship between the wearer and naturally photosynthetic algae that are in tanks on the back of the suit. The wearer then feeds on the algae while the algae are constantly reproducing in the back of the tank.

While this concept is ingenious, it is a bit freaky. The suit frankly looks like a green version of Bane’s mask from “The Dark Knight.” It is very alien in appearance, which would most likely lead to it not being widely adopted due to the poor quality of its looks. In my mind the suit would feel very alien as well. Having a mask consistently attached to your face feeding you small amounts of algae saturated water does not sound in the least bit pleasant or natural. In addition, the suit is quite large and would not be suitable for constant use, leading to a decrease of the object’s convenience factor. However, the benefit it offers might just be grand enough to overcome these aesthetic shortfalls. Imagine never having to worry about sustainable sustenance again? This device, in theory, could eradicate hunger issues around the world. Yes, the food wouldn’t be pleasant, but it is still food. The difference it could make to the human condition is mind-boggling. Keeping this in mind however, I do see some particular issues arising from possible connotations associated with the object’s use. Really the only individuals who would be inclined to use this object would be starving people. Usually people who are starving are in the lowest socioeconomic class of their respective society. This being said, the suit would then become a symbol of poverty when worn, easily singling out that particular societal group. This effect could then lead to problems like discrimination. All things considered, I believe this suit could save many lives in the fight against global hunger and starvation, with the pros being well worth the cons.

How Ebola Research Changed My Life

It was the first academic day of my time here at Emory. I had just received an immense extra credit challenge from my biology professor: design a better detection method for the Ebola virus. Being passionate about humanitarian causes, especially those that involve medical innovation, I was anxious to try my hand at developing a new diagnostic. However there was one snag in my plans, I only had a basic knowledge of the Ebola virus. To remedy this, I spent the entire afternoon and evening of my first day of college engrossed in Google Scholar. I delved through every article I could find, spanning all topics related to Ebola. This included treatment, quarantine strategies, pathogenesis, biological structure, and current responses to the outbreak. I was searching for anything and everything that could help me devise a test that would actually be useful for the particular outbreak occurring in West Africa. I focused on particular strains, searched for material written by scientific professionals on the ground, and searched for papers published by expert immunologists and virologists.

Later that night, using my newfound knowledge, I drew together a sketch with my friend Rostam of a possible better diagnostic test for the virus. After about an hour of sketching on a white board in a Raoul Hall study lounge, we both sat back, looked at our creation, and looked back at each other. We realized that we might actually have something to work with. From there the rest is history. We took our design to the next level, consulting medical and scientific professionals and eventually partnering with an immunologist. We started our own private fundraising campaign, raising over 15,000 dollars to use to develop our test. We garnered national attention for our work in progress and have had countless interviews with news organizations and professional academics in medicine. Through this project I have learned what it takes to start a business and how to talk to powerful individuals without them shutting me down. I’ve learned how to market and fundraise, how to pitch ideas to potential funders, and how to not get eaten alive in the business world. I discovered how careful one has to be with what they are saying, how to effectively communicate a complicated scientific process to people without giving away secrets about how the project works, and what it takes to deal with the media. I have dealt with haters and those who talk down on my work at every turn. I have done more networking in the past two months than most people do in their entire lives. I have drank more coffee than I though humanly possible. I have sacrificed my free time, my nights and weekends. I have seen and done things that almost no one my age gets the privilege to. I learned how to balance this project and my school work. I learned how to be humble and what my limits are. I know now what true drive is. I have made a lifelong best friend and connections that will last me forever. The list goes on….

All of this self improvement and opportunity to do something great has come from my Ebola research. Without it, I would still be a normal college student, living a normal life. Ebola research has opened the gates of self-improvement for me. I am 100% a better person, in all aspects, from my experiences stemming from research. While I am currently still working on my project at the time of my writing of this post, I can safely say that just working on it, regardless whether it is successful or not, has been the best experience of my life. Never have I experienced something so comprehensively life changing as this, and I don’t think I ever will. My experience just goes to show what doors research can open. I highly encourage everyone to participate in a form of it, scientific or not. It could change your life forever.

Sherlock: A Great Literary Contribution

Although entertaining, Doyle’s short story “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” is not what I expect when I think about traditional literature. Throughout my years of schooling, I have been conditioned to think about a particular set of works when I think about literature in the academic setting. These include Animal Farm Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, 1984, various works of Shakespeare and Poe, and the list goes on. All of these works include commonalities such as plentiful symbolism, societal or political commentary, and thorough examination of the human condition. None of the above can be readily seen in “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. While the above aspects do give these various literary icons merit, in the case of Doyle’s tale, it was written purely for entertainment value. Having been written to entertain is actually a refreshing change in pace. Literature gets dull when its only focus becomes dramatic and deep commentary on serious issues. Why not permit a fun detective story once in awhile? Sure, it won’t have the impact as the traditional literary powerhouses, however entertainment has value too. This can especially be seen when you look at how much money Doyle made in his career writing Sherlock Holmes.

Lack of the significant elements contained by traditional literary works is actually a merit of Doyle’s tale. While serious commentary and symbolism can make a work great, it is also a serious constraint. It greatly restricts not only what someone can write about, but how they can write about it as well. Doyle’s choice to negate all contemporary literary methods gives him immense freedom with what he writes, allowing him to explore a variety of topics. This makes his work unique, easily able to be structured to be entertaining, and diverse.

Yes, Doyle’s work will never have the impact of that of Shakespeare or Orwell, but it does fill a literary niche that is necessary to fill. Due to this, although I personally don’t view “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” as traditional literature, it should be considered literature. We need to understand that not all great works involve symbolism and complex literary methods. Doyle’s stories served their purpose in society with great merit, giving people a timeless character that is still being used today. They have impacted millions of people, maybe not by making them think about sensitive issues and society as a whole, but by making them happy. This should be enough to warrant Doyle’s stories as literature that could be taught. We as an academic society need to stop undervaluing stories like Doyle’s and recognize their great influence on society.

The Service Sector of the Future

In the movie Her, the main character has a job that perfectly fits the futuristic world the film is set in: writing “personal handwritten” letters using a computer to match his handwriting to that of his client. The technology that allows Theodore to perform at this job, needless to say, is extremely advanced. In fact, technology in the film’s universe has progressed to the point where operating systems themselves have become self aware, presenting emotions and even possessing the ability to fall in love. Specifically, Her follows the story of Theodore and his OS Samantha, exploring the intricacies of love through the lens of their human-computer emotional entanglement. Theodore’s unique job not only provides insight to how he approaches relationships, but also represents a brilliant social commentary on the state of human emotional and relationship development.

Much of Theodore’s work involves writing love poetry to be sent to others. Through his intricate verse, we gain sight into his broken heart, which was hurt in a recent divorce. We realize that he is a hopeless romantic, just looking for someone who could appreciate the wonder and adventure of the world with. He appreciates the little intricacies of every relationship and understands what makes each one special, as demonstrated by his inclusion of small personal traits into his poems like crooked teeth or weird smiles. It is said that poetry is the quickest way to the heart, so with Theodore’s profession revolving around this literary art, it is no wonder that it helps the viewer get to understand Theodore more comprehensively than they would without his poetry.

Beautiful Handwritten Letters also serves as insight into our society’s current path of development with regards to how we interact with one another. The concept of an outside individual writing deep, personal, and loving letters to one or both parties involved in a relationship makes me feel very uncomfortable. To me, a romantic relationship contains two people, that’s it. Involving another person, especially when they try to convey the feelings of another member of the relationship for them, taints the entire point of being in a relationship. Being committed to someone is a big deal; it dictates getting to know everything about them through common experiences, which then garner feelings for one another. A third party could not possibly understand the emotions of the individuals in the relationship without being somewhat generic, hence ruining the originality of the connection between the two individuals.

With our society’s trend to outsource every possible task that can be outsourced, I feel that a company like Beautiful Handwritten Letters is not very far off, and that worries me. Companies like these would lead to the de-personalization of our relationships. How would we know if we got a heartwarming letter full of emotion that it was really our significant other, not a Theodore sitting in an office somewhere? Relationships will be full of distrust and false feelings. Is that really the kind of superficial love that we would want? Her is not only a great romance exploring the complexity of love, but it serves as a way to remind us, through Theodore’s job, how special love between TWO people is. If we don’t turn off our current path, one day you might receive a letter from your significant other written by Beautiful Handwritten Letters.

Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. Annapurna Pictures, 2013. DVD.

Blog Revision 1: Uncreative Writing, the Way of the Future?

In modern academia, plagiarism has become the cardinal sin a student can commit. Being currently enrolled in an upper level scholarly institution, I see this anti-plagiaristic academic attitude first hand on a daily basis. Even before I arrived on campus, during my summer orientation course, we had to complete an exhaustive online seminar defining the entire spectrum of plagiarism and academic dishonesty. As I was completing this course I personally thought that a lot of what is currently defined as plagiaristic without citation is ridiculous, leading to the limitation of the student in their writing and thereby affecting their scholarly voice. Apparently I am not the only individual who thinks this way. Kenneth Goldsmith, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, shares my opinions on this issue. His article, It’s Not Plagiarism. In the Digital Age, It’s ‘Repurposing’, stuck a very particular chord with me, and I would like to address some of the main questions he raises in order to put academic “plagiarism” in a new light.

For quite a long time now, I had noticed the phenomenon that Goldsmith discusses in his article, not only in the writing of my classmates but even in my own writing. Throughout our academic careers, my peers and I have been encouraged to write “original and creative thoughts” for our works. There is nothing wrong with this, however what I, and Goldsmith, have both noticed is that this has become more and more difficult to accomplish. With the vast amount of published material available thanks to the digital age, the possibility our “original thought” has actually been published before is extremely high. Much of the time what we write and think is original is just “repurposed”, and not even deliberately. We absorb a lot of information, whether it is from T.V., literature, or the Internet. Then, when it comes to write a piece, we end up recalling this information but forget  that it was not originally from our own thinking. Much of the plagiarism that occurs academically therefore is not blatant, but accidental. This raises the interesting questions that Goldsmith addresses: Has academic writing been fundamentally altered by the sheer amount of material present? Has creativity been replaced by reorganization? Is the originality of the content more important than the originality of the arrangement of the content?

Lets start off with the first question. Has academic writing been fundamentally altered? I say absolutely. In my mind there are only so many original thoughts to be had. If professors and other academic professionals keep insisting on the pure, unadulterated original content that the current system of educated writing is based on, they are going to be disappointed by the results. To them it will seem like all students are lazy plagiarists who refuse to think creative and unique thoughts. Where in reality, it is almost impossible for students to think completely originally because there is already so much literature available on the topics they are writing about.

This brings us to the second question, has creativity been replaced by reorganization? To this I say yes, in a way it has. It would actually be more accurate to say that creativity has become organization. Due to the fact that all of the material cannot be original, the only other thing left to the writer’s discretion is how he or she displays the information. Goldsmith also holds this view and describes organization as the new literary art form. I would not take it so far as to say organization is a new art form, however I do agree that it has become the new method of originality.

Now to the final question, is the originality of the content more important than the originality of the arrangement of the content? The traditionalist in me says that no question content is more important than structure, but when I think about it I’m not so sure. Structure of content acts as the lenses through which that content is viewed and absorbed, therefore different structures could lead to different levels of understanding and even meaning. Keeping that in mind I say that structure of the content is just as important as the content itself.

So what does all of this mean for the future of academic writing? It depends if the current leaders at academic institutions choose to see the evidence that Goldsmith and others put forth and realize that it is time to adapt educational writing to the information age. If professors can somehow absorb our arguments, maybe they will see that this new evolution in writing can in fact be beneficial to learning through the further exploration of previously thought fully explored topics. The different points of view put forth by “uncreative writing” could in fact open up a whole new realm of thought, expanding the reach and depth of education, benefitting us all. For the benefit of my and my classmates’ education, I sincerely hope that this new style of approaching academic work is adopted.

Selling E-mail Sociability

One can argue that the modern smartphone is the most important device in an individual’s life. Telephone communications now dominate many people’s social and workplace time, dictating how we as individuals stay connected to the objects of importance in our lives. This development is very interesting to behold, especially since traditional telephone technology stemmed from the need for concise communiques of importance over long distances. The social development of the telephone as discussed in the article “Touch Someone” is mirrored by the evolution of another modern communication method, one that is coincidentally now intertwined with telephone technology in the form of the modern smartphone: E-mail.

Paralleling the social assimilation of the telephone, e-mail communication started out purely as a short “blast” of essential information over the early broadband internet system. This concise message was meant for “vital” communications only, such as, but not limited to, military orders, government communiques, and business collaboration. The creators of e-mail never dreamed that this medium for quick communications of importance would develop into the current massive social medium that it has turned into today. However, as the internet as a whole evolved into a more social entity, as well as could bear a larger data burden, e-mail’s potential was finally realized. The creators of this service saw that their system could, in effect, replace traditional mail services. This replacement was not solely for adults either, it became understood that all technologically involved individuals, regardless of age, could participate in e-mail. Thus, in similar fashion as the telephone marketers of old, e-mail service executives began extensive marketing to all sectors of the population. I personally remember at about age ten seeing an advertisement on children’s television for a “child secure” e-mail service from Microsoft. Needless to say, I begged my parents for permission and they submitted, making me a participant in this e-mail revolution. Soon after I received access to my own electronic mail account, I convinced my close friends to get accounts of their own. Soon enough, my elementary school friends and I were e-mailing one another almost as much as my father did to his business associates. From this personal experience and what I viewed changing in society at the time, I can accurately say that e-mail marketers were successful in assimilating all, if not most members, of society into using e-mail services. Needless to say the profits gained by technology companies who owned e-mail servers during this changing time was substantial. This is due to the fact It became not only a social medium, but an advertising medium. E-mail’s development again parallel’s the telephone’s in this light. Just as adds for products are sent to all e-mail subscribers daily, telemarketers called owners of telephone lines daily to pitch products.

In conclusion, the development of modern e-mail into a social medium greatly parallels the same development of telephone communication during the early twentieth Century. Both evolutions effected the same populations, proliferated through the same age groups, involved both genders, and stemmed from the same original usage of each respective technology. As well, these two mediums of modern communication evolved in such a similar fashion they are now seen as almost one in the same, with e-mail capability being incorporated into almost every new telephone being development. Due to these factors, in my mind, there are no technology development trees that mirror each other more closely than that of e-mail and the telephone.

Uncreative Writing? Is It Really So Bad?

Kenneth Goldsmith’s article, It’s Not Plagiarism. In the Digital Age, It’s ‘Repurposing’, stuck a very particular chord with me, and I would like to address some of the main questions he raises from my own point of view.

For quite a long time now I had noticed the phenomenon that Goldsmith discusses in his article, not only in the writing of my classmates but even in my own writing. Throughout our academic careers my peers and I have been encouraged to write “original and creative thoughts” for our works. There is nothing wrong with this, however what I, and Goldsmith, have both noticed is that this has become more and more difficult to accomplish. With the vast amount of published material available thanks to the digital age, the possibility your “original thought” has actually been published before is extremely high. Much of the time what we write and think is original is just “repurposed”, and not even deliberately. We absorb a lot of information, whether it is from T.V., literature, or the Internet. Then when it comes to write a piece we end up recalling this information, but in fact not remembering that it was not originally from our own thinking. Much of the plagiarism that occurs academically therefore is not blatant, but accidental. This raises the interesting questions that Goldsmith addresses: Has academic writing been fundamentally altered by the sheer amount of material present? Has creativity been replaced by reorganization? Is the originality of the content more important than the originality of the arrangement of the content?

Lets start off with the first question. Has academic writing been fundamentally altered? I say absolutely. In my mind there are only so many original thoughts to be had. If professors and other academic professionals keep insisting on the pure, unadulterated original content that the current system of educated writing is based off of, they are going to be disappointed by the results. To them it will seem like all students are now lazy plagiarists who refuse to think creative and unique thoughts, where in reality it is almost impossible for students to think completely originally because there is already so much literature on the topics they are writing about.

This brings us to the second question, has creativity been replaced by reorganization? To this I say yes, in a way it has. It would actually be more accurate to say that creativity has become organization. Due to the fact that all of the material cannot be original, the only other thing left to the writer’s discretion is how he or she displays the information. Goldsmith also holds this view and describes organization as the new literary art form. I would not take it so far as to say organization is the new art form, however I do agree that it has become the new method of originality.

Now to the final question, is the originality of the content more important than the originality of the arrangement of the content? The traditionalist in me says that no question content is more important than structure, but when I think about it I’m not so sure. Structure of content acts as the lenses through which that content is viewed and absorbed, therefore different structures could lead to different levels of understanding and even meaning. Keeping that in mind I say that structure of the content is just as important as the content itself. If professors can absorb my argument, maybe they will see that this new evolution in writing in fact isn’t so bad.