Monday, February 28, 2011

A Popular Culture within a Popular Culture

It is clearly obvious how music is becoming an essential tool in film production and in determining how appealing a movie would be for its audience in the last couple of decades. However, this doesn't mean that movies that play music in them are definitely successful, nor the movies that you barely hear music playing in them are extreme failures.

Lots of songs became famous simply because they were played in big movies. And again, not all songs in movies achieved such success, in which the ones that would achieve it were mainly theme songs of movies, or the song’s artist is someone who’s already famous in the music industry. For instance, all of us know how “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion became a huge romance hit once it was played in the movie Titanic. Till this day we listen to this song playing in retail spaces, especially the numerous instrumental versions of it in fancy restaurants.

[Above: the theatrical poster of the movie "Titanic"]

Apart from how movies can bring songs or artists to fame, the opposite process is not different. A song or an artist can bring a particular movie or a TV show into fame as well. Most of these motion pictures feature famous singers or famous bands having short scenes in movies in which they just appear in to sing. And if course, when fans know that their favorite artist/artists are featuring in a particular movie, they definitely watch the movie to anticipate the part in which their idol/ idols going to perform in. A lot of examples I can give to elaborate this practice. The movie “New York Minute”—starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen—featured the famous pop punk band Simple Plan performing an amazing song that didn’t feature in any of their albums till this day. The song is called “Vacation” and people can have it only if they would buy the soundtrack of the motion picture.

[Above: the Olsen twins and Simple Plan]

Another movie was “Hannah Montana: The Movie.” Although it was meant to be for kids, a lot of adults watched it along with their children because it features a young talented country singer that people are obsessed with: Taylor Swift. She is that singer who brought life to country music again and made it popular among young people too. She was featured in the movie singing a hit that isn't in any of her albums till this day as well. The song is called “Crazier.”

Below is a video I made that shows how second-marketing plays a big role in the popularity of some movies:

Click Here to Watch the video on YouTube

What does this tell us? It tells us that media companies often refer to secondary markets (in this case, being music and famous artists) to minimize the risks of grabbing audience toward their productions. To conclude, popular cultures often rely on one another to achieve success and obtain the validity and vitality of their productions.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Background Music in Retail Spaces: Can it make you a loyal customer?

I know there are a lot of Mango fans out there. A lot of women are fond of Mango’s fashions and accessories. But based on my visit to Mango as one of the locations for my paper on music in retail spaces, I found that the music they play in their stores plays an integral role, in keeping you ladies in there longer, and keep you coming back for another taste of trendy, young, chic enjoyable atmosphere. I was unable to cover the account of my study of the Mango fashion store in my paper, so I hereby spill the study of the use of background music in one of Doha’s popular fashion stores.


When I went to Mango with my sociological intentions in mind, the store was not having a sale (sadly). Their final promotion ended over 3 weeks ago. And being a frequent visitor to the store, I realized that the music they played during sales varied in pace and volume from that played when they were not having a sale. There was definitely an added effect from the background music. The fast paced, loud music created the feeling of rush and anxiety, that “shop till you drop” sensation. It invoked feelings that urges you to hurry and grab as many merchandise as you can lay your hands on. People were loud and the music even louder, immersing shoppers in a “hungry for more” vibe, unbeatable prices that must be taken advantage of while they last. It was almost as though the music narrated the chaotic rapid random movement of clients in and out and within the shop, distracting us from the mess, and pulling our focus to one thing and one thing only: to shop, and to shop as much as you can. The music heightened the enthusiasm, and stamina in shoppers to keep digging through heaps of clothes, and grab whatever even if it wasn’t their size, because you don’t want to regret it later, when it has all run out. Moreover, the music stimulated my subconscious keeping me “into” what I was doing – shopping.

However, when I visited Mango just a few days ago, the ambience created by the music was not at all the image I described above. The mess and chaos was gone, the heaps of unfolded clothing transformed back into neatly, spotless, immaculate small piles of eye-catching fashions, and delicately hung dresses, skirts, and shirts on glistening racks. And the music echoed this fashion sophistication. Mango’s slogan, found on their catalogues and website reads: “Fashion for the young urban woman”.

And the music definitely compliments this statement as well as their arrangement of clothing and fashion styles. The type of music didn’t change much, they were still pop songs, a variety of remixes, techno music and popular hits, but the volume was marginally reduced, and the pace of the song played reasonably slower than what I had experienced about a month ago during the winter sale. The music played invoked this sense of “young” “trendy” and “urban” complimenting their products and creating an attractive environment for their target audience. I felt comfortable in their store, the music adding to the enjoyment factor, and kept me entertained as I browsed through the items on display. The beats varied from slow to faster, from warm to hip and cool and modern keeping my senses from getting bored. It kept me in this “urban” environment, making feel as though I were part of this preppy, trendy lifestyle, elegant while still youthful and casual. Positive emotions harvest positive experiences, and positive experiences harvest more visits, and more visits render more purchases and ultimately this is a business, and increased consumption is what they are after.

The critical theory best fits the analysis of my experience of background music in Mango. The pace, type, choice of music was used to fit the brand, market it, sell you a “lifestyle’ and pleasant experience, to keep you buying more of their products, and keep you entertained while you’re doing so that you’ll come back for more. The use of background to distract us from anything else but shopping relates to the critical theory’s main concept about the culture industries transforming us into mindless, materialistic, consumers, providing us with entertainment designed to distract us from other important dimensions of our lives.

There are organizations that help shops find the right music for their shops, restaurants and other retail spaces, and create the perfect match that is best for their marketing strategy to help increase sales. Shops are now paying more attention to the background music they play, as studies proved their effectiveness in increasing sales and customer loyalty.

Though I‘d hate to think I’m being manipulated by industries, evidence does suggest that background music in retail spaces is just another tool for enhancing the shopping experience making it memorable and enjoyable, so that we can all enjoy shopping, and if we do, we’ll probably consume more and more, which according to the critical theory is the focal point of the machinations of culture industries.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Japanese Drummers in Qatar

Have you attended the Japanese Music show in Qatar Foundation? I have and I am thrilled and I have so much to tell about this experience. Students, parents, people from the Japanese embassy and many more random people were in the Student Center for this Japanese music show. It was solely drum and flute show which made me wonder how many different tones can you make with this combination anyway?

There were two drummers and another person with the bamboo flute. There were seven drums in total and at least six different sets of drum sticks. Ichitaro was the main hero of the show who was the person with five drums and played throughout the performance continuously.

Za Ichitaro

Ichitaro, the Drummer

What struck me as an audience and made me feel good was their greeting method. Ichitaro tried his best to greet in Arabic, saying 'Assalamualikum' and the audience smiled and greeted them back. All the performers spoke in Japanese the whole time and they had a translator who repeated everything they said in English. It was a nice experience to hear Japanese for the first time. All the three performers gave a brief description about the instruments and their significance.

The full band (in a different location)

After watching the whole performance, I can tell without any doubt that these guys strive for nothing but excellence. Continuously playing the drum for such a long time, remembering every beat, synchronizing with your fellow drummer and playing the same tune, is not definitely not an easy matter.

Another element I really liked about this band was that after every song/performance, every member would appreciate the other member's work and show pride in their work more. For example, after every performance, the center guy Ichitaro would turn left and then turn right and applaud for their performance. The other two would do the same. There is definitely as strong element of team work in Japanese music for sure.

It was a lifetime experience for me as I don't know if I could have watched this show even if I was in Japan. This was a great short introduction of Japanese culture for me as I observed how they greet, talk and respect each other.

The demography of the crowd was equally interesting. There were youngsters of age five, and also elders aged 60+ and students and parents. There were many Arabs, Asians and Westerners. This gave me a wider exposure towards how culture brings people together from other cultures.

Here are two clips from my mobile phone that I recorded while in the show. For a moment, Ichitaro felt like a machine to me because I literally could not see his hands clearly, he was that fast in playing the drums. Enjoy :)

Ichitaro In Action

Disney's "stereotyped" land!

If you’ve watched any of Disney's classical animated movies then you probably haven’t noticed some of the misleading elements that appear within some characters.

If you’ve watched any of Disney's classical animated movies then you probably haven’t noticed some of the misleading elements that appear within some characters.
Disney corporation is one of the seven enormous companies that have a wide control over the mass media today. These cultural industries reproduce social inequality by reinforcing stereotypes in countless images for the mass market. So, as silly and childish these Disney characters may be, some of their descriptions could be listed under racism or social inequality. Examples of these inequalities and racism are shown in Disney's most famous movies such as; Aladdin, The little Mermaid, Pocahontas and Peter Pan.

When I was young, after watching Pocahontas and Peter Pan, I assumed that there was a gang called the Red Indians. The image that was drawn in my mind about those people was similar to the image of pirates. It wasn’t until I’ve studied them in history that I found out that Red Indians are native Americans, but the style which the movie portrait them in made it hard for me to think of them as civilized people.

However, native American or Red Indian characters were not the only ones accused of showing a racist image among Disney's cartoons. Aladdin is mainly taken from the Arabian Nights famous stories, but nothing in those stories mentioned that Arabs cut off your ear if they don’t like your face! Thats what the theme song of Aladdin says. As well as the represented image of the Arabian cities which was reintroduced in the movie Transformers. This stereotyped image that the Middle East is a piece of desert occupied by barbaric people is very common in most of the movies made by big corporations.

Its obvious that some of Disney’s characters portray different races and cultures in a negative way. Though these types of shows and movies are perceived as innocent entertainment products, they are successfully absorbed by children; making their knowledge of these real-life characters nothing but the negative stereotyped image they have portrayed.

This could be explained through the critical approach to popular culture, as it proves that radio and movies are no longer considered art, they are just business  made into an ideology to justify the rubbish they produce.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Controversy of Female Taxi Driving

In a country that enforces sexes segregation and compels certain rules that overtake womens' emancipation, Iranian females seek for an independent lifestyle and financial success by having their own career, since they have been able to manipulate gender segregation. Recently, many women compete against men in the transportation field and specifically as Taxi drivers.

“The Right Stuff” article by Mindy Kay Bricker, reveals how female taxi drivers in Iran combat life's obstacles through their exotic career in order to enhance their financial statuses. Since Iran has its own taxi driving company for female passengers, the company receives an average of 2,500 calls each day and this shows the successful view of the public towards the idea of female taxi driving. Women in Iran endeavor to own their independence and their own prestige in living, even though the rate of women unemployment is high.

Women have their negative perspective about taxi driving and they do feel inferior towards men, especially since they are degraded in the eyes of the opposite gender. However, the reason behind this mentality relates to the stereotypical society itself and the idea of men being superior towards women. It is true that women are more exposed to harm or danger, especially during night shifts. They can easily be abducted or physically abused from any passenger or a random person in the street. But with absolute care, women can thrive as men do and even better. Zahra Farjami is a successful woman in the career of taxi driving. She stated that once she started working as a taxi driver, she realized that women could earn more then men. It seems that the goal for prosperity is the motivation behind womens' determination. Even though men are the masters of the family, some women earn more than their husband’s do. Zahra earns almost $10000 per year exceeding her husband’s earnings. And similarly works with Soltani, another successful female taxi driver, who claimed, “Driving a cab affords her the luxury of not needing to remarry.”

Finally, I am a supportive of womens' rights and I believe that women should defend their own choices, especially women in Iran. I think that the elaborateness of Iran’s government is considered an obstacle towards women rights, but it shouldn’t be the barrier for them to embrace the taste of success and independence, because the equality between women and men is essential in life. Therefore, each gender would gain equal rights and opportunities in life.

A New Social Wave

Walking in the halls of the Academic Bridge Programs, all I notice is pairs of eyes staring on tiny devices in their hands. What I witness is the new teenage culture that lies in the hand of virtual chatting and new ways of living, literally. Anyone these days can develop a social life with popularity thanks to a small device. The first step is affording it and its service; that itself sets new grounds to a person and their ability to fit themselves in the “cool hood” with a small device. This device is called BlackBerry. It spread like a raging fire throughout Qatar and the Middle East. Why? It’s simply because it gives a person the ability to carry around their instant messaging programs, search engines and other multimedia programs.

The real issue here is the product consumption; this device is becoming obsessive with most teenagers. In Qatar, BlackBerry spread through word-of-mouth. I remember when I first saw an ad for BlackBerry; it wasn’t really appealing to me. My sister bought a BlackBerry device and I told her it would suck. Then I notice some students in my school using it. They seemed to absent from this world. I thought it was just a phase until one of my close friends got one and I barely heard from him anymore. Even when we go out, he never seems to hear me or feel his environment. He just walks with his eyes attached to that tiny screen. It didn’t take long before I decide that I needed to get one too. (Picture on the right: BlackBerry in school environment.)

It’s most useful when I want to Google something quick, or sign on MSN for a long time and chat. I am not addicted to it myself, however many of the people around me are. My school environment is one example of this addiction. The BlackBerry is everywhere and out-thrown the iPhone; it would make me feel like an alien if I didn’t have a one. The video below is a series of mini-interviews with some of the students who do own this device. You can tell that some are heavily attached to this latest manifestation of social life.

The Revolution of Social Networks

Social Networks are a relatively new invention to Internet users. Nonetheless, their use was commonly known among people from all over the world in a relatively short time. One of the best-known and biggest examples of social networks is Facebook.

Facebook has reached more than 500 million active users, people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, as well as, the average user who is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.

Social Networks like Facebook developed into a new releam that it is not just a mere web place where people can “re-connect with their family and friends.” it has turned into a tool for people to advertise, market and to spread their opinions and their believes, and to even initiate movements that possibly could, and did, change the world culturally and politically.

The most interesting aspect is that people all over the world are connected to each other and could easily in a heart beat chat or “post on walls” and share topics about their theories about life and cultures, their religious or spiritual beliefs, and most importantly and most common, their political beliefs as well.

People are so empowered through these social networks, that they were able to utilize them for demanding rights from oppressing governments, for voicing their concerns about many cultural and political issues in wherever they are located. And this is very evident in the recent events, where the Egyptian rise-up was all organized and initiated on a Facebook page by an Internet activist and a former Google executive in Egypt named Wael Ghonim.

This cyber revolution did not only happen in Egypt, but in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and many more Arab and Middle Eastern countries. Putting aside revolutions, Facebook users in general are heavily involved in Middle Eastern and Arabic politics according to another blogger named Issandr Al Amrani. “Perhaps it's common in other parts of the world, but I am struck to what extent Facebook has become an integral part of Arab politics — a place where people organize, debate and even government officials weigh in,” Al Amrani commented on many groups and events that are Middle Eastern politically related.

As I mentioned earlier, social networks play crucial roles nowadays more than they ever did. And this Social Network “revolution” will continue in many years to come.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feels like Déjà vu

Well, for the older generations it’s déjà vu. The teenagers and young adults today never watched 90210, V and Hawaii Five-O. Of course, I am talking about the original versions of these television shows which aired in the late 20th Century. It seems to audiences that Hollywood has lost it- or has it? After all, the media corporations are in the money making business, and what better way to make money than to retell old and highly successful classics? With the exception of Melrose Place which miserably failed due to the bad acting and Bionic Woman which only lasted a season. However, in Bionic Woman’s defense, the writers' strike was going on at the time and caused the series to go on a short hiatus.

As well as rehashing old classics, Hollywood is bringing in successful UK based television shows such as The Office, American Idol (known as Pop Idol in the UK), Skins and many more. As previously stated, Hollywood has not lost “it”. Media firms need to minimize risk. To make money, they have to go with what they know and adhere to the rules of the game. There are multiple ways to minimize risk, like using well known actors and following genre conventions.

As you probably guessed already, another method which is becoming somewhat of a trend is the remaking of old hits and the adoption of successful television shows from abroad. Basically, remaking pop culture hits- popular culture here is defined as culture that is well liked and which is demonstrated through measurable commercial success.

In the case of bringing back the old classics, the target audience is not only the young generation such as the teenagers and young adults, but also the older ones. This is because they have already watched the original versions of the shows and are curious to know how the new ones are. Some of the new versions even feature story lines from the old version to make the audiences of the original versions keep watching.

Appealing to international audiences is another thing that the media companies want to do- this is part of the secondary market. When bringing in television shows from abroad, appealing to the international audience is not as hard anymore because the audiences abroad, from which the television show is originally based in, would simply watch the show out of sheer curiosity.

With the recreation of television shows, many elements have stayed the same- like the type of car the main character uses in Hawaii Five-O. However, things such as cell phones and laptops an other products, which perhaps were not used back then are being integrated into the shows to promote products (product placement) and this is producing a materialistic culture in the United States and it is promoting consumerism.

The recreation of television shows is sociologically intriguing because the cultures twenty, thirty or forty years ago and those abroad are significantly different to those currently in the United States. It would be interesting to study the different audiences and see how one television show affects different kinds of audiences and cultures.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lifehouse! A music culture

After weeks of pleading and grueling hours of talking to my parents, I was able to convince them to go to the Dubai Jazz Festival. There was one specific band, Lifehouse, that I was dying to see.
Lifehouse is a band that has been together for almost eleven years and I fell in love with them after hearing one of their songs play in the first seasons of Smallville.
As soon as the band walked on stage the whole crowd went silent, among the thousands of people there was actual silence! People from different countries flew to dubai just to attend the concert. People of different cultures, some living in dubai and some from outside, all came together for one purpose. To forget about the world for ,what was originally, 90 minutes and become consumed in the world of amazing music. The perfect example of collective effervescence, even though i've never been to a sport event, I am quite sure the energy in this group would have topped any other crowd.

Jason Wade takes the mic and the crowd goes crazy, screams and applause were heard all over the place. The whole crowd was standing and swaying along with the music, singing the words to every single song being played. Even the songs in their new album made the fans get hyped up. Halfway through the concert the band started asking song requests from the audience and immediately they got a million requests. Jason Wade was genuinely shocked by the amount of people that knew their songs, he even began to say that they were initially planning on skipping this part of the show because they didn't expect anyone in the middle east would know any of their songs.

I guess its true what they say, always save the best for last. Their last few songs were out of their older album and you could hear the whole crowd sing along to all the lyrics of every song.
Between songs Jason would talk about random trips they went on in dubai and how he found sand dunning to be absolutely terrifying.

At one point, the lead singer's guitar microphone stopped working. While they were trying to fix that problem backstage, Jason began singing an acapella version of one of my favorite songs of all-time, the storm, and it was definitely the best version of the song i have ever heard.
The concert was supposed to end at exactly midnight and the band said their goodbyes and how they hope to play another concert in dubai and then they all left the stage. No one moved from where they were standing and the whole crowd began to chant WE WANT MORE! This went on for about 10 minutes and people did not want to give up.
I finally see Jason come back to the stage and the crowd went wild, screaming out the songs they wanted to hear again. The band begins to play the full versions of their older songs such as Everything, Broken, Hanging by the moment, and everyone in the crowd is beaming from ear to ear overcome with excitement. Even though no one knew each other it still felt like we were all the closest of friends, smiling and laughing with one another.

The show ended with the song Everything and it was the perfect ending to the perfect concert.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cosplay- A Lifestyle?

Anime and manga have a huge following all over the world, and a significantly large one in Qatar. Interestingly, those anime and manga subcultures that exist all over the world have their own subculture cosplay, which is when Otakus, fans obsessed with manga and anime, dress up as their favorite characters and live out the world in cosplay gatherings, conventions or even restaurants and bars. However, this particular subculture isn't one that exist all over the world and is mainly situated in Japan. While I myself am a fan of Anime and Manga I find the idea of cosplaying weird, yet I understand the reasons behind cosplay as a way to live the lives of your favorite characters, escape society and live out ones childhood.

This subculture is a very serious one in Japan, they have official photoshoots for cosplayers, contests, and roleplaying. To the naked eye this may simply seem like when people dress up as superheros in Comicon, after all it both involves a bunch of adults dressing up in costumes. However, it is far from a similar thing, in cosplay people don't simply dress the part but live the part. If two characters have a relationship in an anime, two people who dress as the character live the romance, even if they may not know each other or if two characters have a rivalry the two cosplayers will stage a fight.

Japan has a specific area known for cosplayers, such as the Akihabara District, as well as cafes, nightclubs and amusement parks specifically for cosplayers to meet, socialize and live out their fantasies. Furthermore, some cosplayers dress up as characters of the opposite sex, crossplay, in order to live out a certain fantasy. These crossplayers are a subgroup to cosplayers and have their own set of rules and hobbies.

These cosplayers have certain norms and regulations. For example, one more would be that when in battle, or a performance the cosplayer must never get out of character. A folkway would be that when in costume the costume must be true to the character. Cosplayers spend months perfecting their costume, the better the costume the more respect the person gets in his or her community.

In Conclusion, cosplaying is more than just a hobby, rather it is a way of life. Cosplayers gather socially in cosplay nightclubs, cafes and bars they have social networks related to cosplay for dating and friendships.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reading books: is it still a popular cultural activity?

Considering the fact that the interests of a person may differ from another person, some people enjoy watching movies and/or listening to music regularly, while some people enjoy reading books to enjoy and fulfill their free-time.

Although reading may be considered as an old-fashioned habit to many people (especially to youth) in this century, it’s still enjoyed and practiced by other people. But how do we know that reading is still considered as a popular cultural activity when knowing that the rate of “reading a book” in the world is decreasing massively over time? Let’s elaborate this by supporting it with real-life examples.

The first shining example is Oprah’s Book Club. But first of all, let me define what a book club is in my own words. A book club is an ongoing group activity that involves individuals of similar book choices together to read certain books, discuss them, share emotions and opinions, etc. Going back to Oprah’s Book Club example, who of us would usually read anything about any productor even buy itjust because a well-known TV personality had once recommended it? Almost every fan of this personality does so. But how did all this happen? Let’s refer to Oprah’s Book Club example again. Oprah has always been entertaining us and attracting us with the variety of topics and stories she presents in her show. She interviews celebrities, talented kids, people with emotional stories of crime or suffering, etc. She made the public more attached to these kinds of stories. The result? The more fanbase she would have. This amazing love that she gains makes it easier for her to say or promote stuff for people to attach to or to do. Furthermore, by forming her own book club and recommending books, Oprah makes more and more people open books and actually read.

The second example is the clever idea of making movie sequels based on books. How is that clever? Almost everyone has watched and loved the first Harry Potter movie before reading the book. What was J.K Rowling’s next step? Her next step was writing the next books of the sequel before making the movies based on them. As some people got attached strongly to Harry Potter stories, of course they couldn’t wait for the next movies to come out to know the rest of the story. As a result, they had only one option: to buy and read the rest of Harry Potter novels to know how the story will come to at the end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Early Adopters: Geeky or Savvy?

My earlier blog about consumerism and materialism reflects the effect of the culture industry in designing products that make us consume more and more, transforming us into mindless consumers of popular culture and cultural products produced by culture industries...

However there is another dimension of consumerism that I would like to explore further. I know a special kind of consumer, the person you usually find first in line to purchase the new phone, the new ipod, the new laptop, the new “gadget” and the latest technology or model of whatever it is the culture industry is selling us.
Meg is a Texas student in the petroleum engineering major. He is also what Grazian refers to as an “early adopter”, an early consumer of a given company product or technology. As far as early adopters are concerned, he is definitely a record breaker. I’ve known him for 3 years, and whenever I buy something new, he always has something newer. He always makes what I own look out of date. My phone is always at least three generations behind his, and my other entertainment gadgets like my ipod are definitely not the “best” option according to him.

If you aren’t an early adopter, I’m sure you know one. Yes I’m talking about the person who can’t wait to show you their new special edition ipod, their new laptop with new features, their new camera, and their new high-tech gadget that can do something so cool – way cooler than what you already own. If the new products are not yet available in stores for you to line up in a cue, he would be the first to purchase it online before it is available for sale locally.

Early adopters are not just geeky consumers as many may think. Their influence on brand success, and impact on society and the consumerist culture can be significant. Potential consumers often seek early adopters’ advice, as they are way ahead in terms of expertise and knowledge on the particular product or innovation. Early adopters would have had more time being acquainted with the product than potential adopters and so would have acquired better understanding of its functions, uses and features. It is then likely that I ask my friend Meg whether I should purchase a certain piece of technology or gadget. Knowing that he would already have that particular item or replaced it about three times he would be a good source for advice and information. Even though I might look up a lot of reviews and information online, the “word-of-mouth” aspect of the interaction theory could be more effective in terms of convincing me to buy a given product. As this analysis on early adopters states, early adopters may “serve as a role model for many other members of a social system”. Early adopters then become somewhat respected by their peers and exemplify a way of using and purchasing products introduced by companies.

When I ask Meg for advice on a given gadget or piece of technology, his role is then to lower my uncertainty of purchasing it and to provide me with a vicarious hands-on experience through his own. His experience may not always be the best. Early adopters can face downfalls, but these negative experiences can serve the benefit of others.

Meg is not an online review or brochure, but someone who is not just trying to sell me a product. Hence, it is only natural that his peers and myself look to him for advice on new products. The effect a “Meg” would bring on any given society is more or less equal. We look to these early adopters for hopes of a successful purchase. It is always rewarding when you invest in something that proves to be suitable and worthwhile. So can early adopters transform us into savvy consumers?