Sunday, February 22, 2009


This is my Dad.

The Political Economy of Google

My first encounter with the significance of Google in the culture of information was in one of the ICT classes I took for my MA degree. I was doing my final presentation on healthcare and the internet.

Inaya: I would like to argue for the significance of ICT in the development and advancement of global healthcare. For that case, I'd like all of you to indulge me in imagining yourself hearing a dear friend of yours dying of a terminal illness you've never heard before. Social courtesy of course holds us back from asking them what type of illness they actually have. You really want to know. My question is: 'What do you do?'
Classmate: I just Google it.

That was exactly the answer I was anticipating. I was in awe it took me several seconds to realise how Google is actually so instilled in our daily culture and information gathering that is has become a culturally acceptable verb.

Having a media and culture background, it's difficult for me to not think about the larger picture. I began relating the phenomenon of Google and/or Wikipedia (Just Wiki it!) with capital ownership.

My hypothesis is, as with conventional media before and the idea of Political Economy theory* (television, newspaper, satellites - e.g. Rupert Murdoch) - He who owns media outlets will ultimately own information flow. He who owns information flow will ultimately own ideology construction (e.g. McDonalds - fast food culture, Hollywood - popular culture, etc) and, eventually, the export and consumption of durable goods.

I couldn't help but worry, when reading about Google.Inc's various acquisitions, among others, YouTube. I began to realise the consequence of making Google my single source of information. When using this search engine, and a list of links appear, Google has 'Agenda Setting' power or the power to set our information agenda. What used to be the power reserved by news media (television news, newspaper news) by deciding which headline is important to us is now acquired by this engine we deem as 'our' portal**.

When assuming that internet users, unlike television viewers who idly click through channels, are active users who have decided before accessing the media which information they'd like to consume - is this still the case with Google's cross-ownership?

Let us not forget that Google.Inc is a private company whose shares are mainly owned by Western (US based) corporations. Google (the search engine) is now also powered by advertising. It makes me wonder how far the search results will reflect the company's long term plan for sustainability.

They have the power to integrate marketing into their search results, but will they use it? Will they consistently apply the idea of public interest and progressive corporate image into their marketing plan?

I argue that media, like any other mediums from guns to hammers, are neutral. It really depends on the user (and owner) to decide its effects. It is virtually impossible to, as the case with conventional media like TV and newspaper, regulate Google's information flow - as when dealing with the internet, we are dealing with transnational, international and/or global information flow. Therefore, I advocate for us being more critical, intelligent and literate Google users who also take into the account the probability of capital interest when scanning through the search results and not taking the idea of 'amount of hits' or 'site popularity' for granted.

At the end of the day, as argued by Karl Marx, dominance will always be challenged by the intellectuals (lit: orang yang berpikir) who realise a disparity of power.

It is up to us whether or not we would like to utilise that power.

For non communication science or media studies background:
* Political Economy, in communication science and media studies, relates to Marx's idea that power relation is apparent in information flow. Wikipedia: '-news outlets are now run by large corporations, they are under the same competitive pressures as other corporations. (...) the pressure to create a stable, profitable business invariably distorts the kinds of news items reported, as well as the manner and emphasis in which they are reported. This occurs not as a result of conscious design but simply as a consequence of market selection: those businesses who happen to favor profits over news quality survive, while those that present a more accurate picture of the world tend to become marginalized.' Recommended reading: Chomsky's 'Manufacturing Consent'.
**Agenda Setting is a theory by McCombs & Shaw which states that every (news) media has the power to decide what is important and how to think about it. For example, current issues covered by the Indonesian media lately involve the race for the president. Less coverage is done towards, for example, the current state in Rwanda.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Political Campaign and Desperate Attempts

Election campaign in Indonesia, I think, has arrived to its most desperate moment. A sound example is:

This example is not exclusive to PDIP. See below.


Joking aside, I think that banner is a testament of how dire our democracy is. That voters are anonymous, imitative, uncritical people whose votes are easily swayed by popular culture. That is, if this manner of campaign is effective.

Political campaign, I think, is no longer exclusive to political science and debates. The more campaign political parties apply in our daily lives, mostly through the media (television, internet, radio), the more it has entered the realm of media and (popular) culture.

Political campaign, historically, was actually developed from the basic idea of propaganda. That a single idea should be repeated, instilled, consistently projected in order to change the 'mind' of the audience. Although effects may be measured, I choose to advocate for the idea that the audience are not a mindless, uncritical mass easily swayed. Part of (that) audience are people with sound judgements which should be approached in a careful manner.

But then again, from the perspective of the political organisation, it really depends on whose vote you are trying to gain. If I were them, and I'm being a devil's advocate when I'm saying this, trying to gain the votes of many (lower educated, lower income, which comprise most of the country's population) the easiest way would perhaps be by endorsing the campaign with as many icons of popular culture (as is the case of Cynthia Lamusu's father).

It makes you think, doesn't it? That the manner a political party chooses in its campaign is actually a manifestation of their goals. For political parties which goal is to gain as many voters, then the simplest of options is best. But for political parties which goal is to bear the aspirations of many, campaign will be formed accordingly.

Note: I have no strong political stance nor a political position. I have no loyalty towards any party and my vote is based on information and consideration instead of blind loyalty.

Which makes me wonder... PKS has consistently attributed the same symbols, meaning and text in their advertising - which lead to the latest controvery of employing newspaper headlines on political disputes between parties.

Their courageous political stance led me, a self-proclaimed critical voter, to open their website and read their vision and mission. Browse through online material to find out how the media has portrayed their demonstration, how they organise their mass and what they fight for (and how!).

Aside from what their actual goal is, PKS has employed a very intelligent, careful, critical campaign strategy which either is a testament to what they believe in or a testament to how brilliant their campaign manager is.

The optimist in me has decided.

Oh. This is no endorsement. This is a trigger to an open debate on something that truly matters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Raindrops and Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Courtesy of Diana Sabidi. I don't like chain mails but I liked the idea.

1. I am a nerd.
2. Unlike what people think of me, I have no ambition. I do, however, have realistic plans.
3. I am married to my bestfriend.
4. I prefer living in big cities but I stay indoors most of the time.
5. I still breastfeed my 6.5 month old son.
6. I enjoy my privacy and I don't like people interfering with my private life.
7. I am a PhD candidate, lecturer, wife and mom. Not in that order of priority.
8. If I had to choose, I would leave everything I have for my family.
9. I am learning to juggle love and life, while maintaining my stress level.
10. I love reading, browsing random sites, writing, traveling and going to museums (I told you I am a nerd).
11. I have been to all continents except Africa.
12. I traveled Western Europe with my husband by bus, train, plane and car.
13. I believe in God.
14. I think democracy is overrated.
15. I believe that violence is never a solution.
16. I am a meat eater and diligently eat my vegetables out of guilt.
17. I love winters.
18. I love biking in Amsterdam.
19. I like learning new languages only to forget them after 1 year.
20. I am an active TV viewer. I download them and never watch the commercials (eat that AC Nielsen ratings).
21. I believe in open dialogue with people who would listen before they speak.
22. I like vanilla cupcakes, Dr. Pepper, Shirley Temple and Teh Kotak.
23. There are under 10 people in this world who truly know who I am.
24. I collect books and am currently developing my own library.
25. I love children because they represent everything that is right in this world.

Monday, February 09, 2009

SAP Analisis Kritis terhadap Media Massa di Indonesia

Program Sarjana Reguler
Departemen Ilmu Komunikasi
Fakultas Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik
Universitas Indonesia


Mata Kuliah : Analisis Kritis terhadap Media Massa di Indonesia
Semester : Genap 2008/2009
Hari / Jam : Kamis/ 10.30-13.00
Pengajar : Inaya Rakhmani


Dalam mata kuliah ini, mahasiswa akan diperkenalkan dengan berbagai tradisi, teori dan perdebatan dalam kajian kritis media massa (Marxisme, cultural studies, ekonomi politik, audience reception theory, dan konsep-konsep terbaru lainnya yang berkembang dari teori kritis) serta kaitannya dengan fenomena media massa di Indonesia (dengan fokus kepada televisi, film, internet dan musik). Mata kuliah ini akan mendalami ‘sebab dan akibat’ dari media massa yang terkait dengan kepentingan pemilik modal, pembentukan budaya popular dan dampak global/lokal media massa di Indonesia. Sebagai tambahan, mata kuliah ini juga akan menyentuh isu munculnya media ‘alternatif’ sebagai respons kritis terhadap dominasi media mainstream.


Memperdalam penguasaan mahasiswa dalam memahami:
(1) Rangkaian teori dan konsep dalam spektrum perdebatan teori kritis media massa,
(2) Logika berpikir pendekatan kritis dalam ‘membaca’ gejala/fenomena media massa di Indonesia.

Komponen evaluasi (sementara) adalah sbb.:

1. Review film 15%
2. Presentasi kelompok 15%
3. Ujian Tengah Semester 30%
4. Ujian Akhir Semester 30%

Satuan Acara Perkuliahan

I 5/2 Overview -
II 12/2 Teori kritis dan Ilmu Komunikasi: Sebuah Pengantar
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "Media Studies", in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
III 19/2 Budaya & Media (Massa): Cara Mengkaji Media
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "What Do the Media Do to Us? Media and Society", in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
IV 26/2 Ekonomi Politik Media
Herman, Edward S. & Noam Chomsky (2002). "A Propaganda Model", in Manufacturing Consent.USA: Pantheon Books.
V 5/3 Media & (Post) Modernisasi
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "Postmodernism", in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
VI 12/3 Memahami Ideologi & Hegemoni
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "Making Sense: Discourse, Ideology, and Hegemony in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
VII 19/3 Teori Kritis dan Media Massa di Indonesia: Transisi Politik & Dampaknya
Hill, David & Krishna Sen (2000). "Introduction: Mediating Politics and Culture", in Media, Culture and Politics in Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press.
26/3 Hari Raya Nyepi
2/4 Pekan UTS -
VIII 9/4 Memandang Televisi dengan Kritis
Kitley, Philip (2000). "Television and Its Historical Audience", in Television, Nation and Culture in Indonesia. USA: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
IX 16/4 Film dan Politik di Indonesia
Hill, David & Krishna Sen (2000). National Cinema: Global Images, Contested Meanings", in Media, Culture and Politics in Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press.
X 23/4 Film: GIE (Indonesia: Riri Riza, 2005) -
XI 30/4 New Media: Sebuah Alternatif?
Slevin, James (2000). "Publicness and the Internet", in Internet and Society. USA: Blackwell Publisherss Inc.
XII 7/5 Musik di Indonesia: Antara Industri dan Indie.
Dewanto, Andi. "Trend Indie Wangi". Koran Tempo. 22.07.2006
XIII 14/5 Kenaikan Yesus Kristus
XIV 21/5 Analisis Kritis Media Massa di Indonesia: Rangkaian Isu
Wardhana, Veven Sp (2001). Televisi dan Prasangka Budaya Massa.Jakarta: Institut Studi Arus Informasi.
4/6 Pekan UAS -


Dewanto, Andi. "Trend Indie Wangi". Koran Tempo. 22.07.2006

Herman, Edward S. & Noam Chomsky (2002). Manufacturing Consent.USA: Pantheon Books.

Hill, David & Krishna Sen (2000). Media, Culture and Politics in Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kitley, Philip (2000). Television, Nation and Culture in Indonesia. USA: Ohio University Center for International Studies.

O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Slevin, James (2000). Internet and Society. USA: Blackwell Publisherss Inc.

Wardhana, Veven Sp (2001). Televisi dan Prasangka Budaya Massa.Jakarta: Institut Studi Arus Informasi.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Best of Compromising

My husband, Arya, is the type of person who does everything on his own. He works, makes money, cleans after himself, helps take care of our son, and rarely asks for help around the house. A true un-patriarchal husband/father.

Sounds perfect, eh? True. But he expects the same from me.

Before marrying him, I spent most of my life having live-in hired help. Now our cleaning lady comes and goes and has Sundays off.

Two weeks after labour, he asked me when I plan to get back to work. He says lounging around the house and breastfeeding is not a healthy lifestyle.

He does support me on all levels - motherhood, career, education. But on the other hand he also expects me to run as fast as I can on all levels - personal and professional.

He is not amused when I am idle.

There are moments when I am just about to break down and feel that I have had enough. I breastfeed, bathe, prepare food, feed Malik, prepare presentations, write, research, read, budget annual financial estimation for our household. The list goes on.

This morning, after feeding, bathing, preparing Malik's diaper bag, washing & sterilizing his bottles, opening & locking the gate for Arya (since we have no help) - it began to rain. And I snapped.

Though these moments will always come and go, I know the habits to which I have 'compromised' to adopt have more pros than they do cons.

Although it's undeniably more tiring, I whine less over small things and have higher stress tolerance. I am used to doing things myself and I hope one day this will give Malik a good example.

And although Arya sets very high standards on me, he also takes care of his end of the deal. He takes care of Malik when I'm occupied (you name it, diaper-changing, bathing, clipping his nails, calming him when he's crying, feeding him, putting him to sleep - there is literally nothing I can do that he can't (aside from producing breastmilk)). After working 10 hours and accidentally breaking a plate, he picks up a broom and mop and cleans up the mess. No whining. He is willing to work around his schedule if I need to work, so that Malik has a stand-by parent (we also don't have a full-time nanny).

Sometimes, when I'm extremely exhausted, I ask myself if things have to be this hard. We can actually afford to hire more help, albeit lose more privacy. But when I think of Malik and what kind of life skills I want him to be equipped with - I am reminded of the person Arya is and how independent he is despite the fact that most males in Indonesia are taken care of instead taking care of themselves. How unconventional he is and how this relates to his strong character. How this may relate to decisiveness, agility and perseverance.

And at those moments I always decide that all of this is worth it. Not for me, but for my child(ren).

I am extremely grateful that I have Arya as my life partner. I can honestly say that I highly doubt I would be able to do all of these things while maintaining my stress level if it weren't for him. And I do hope that Malik gains the best of both worlds.

I love you, Arya.

Maintenance: Malik vs Mom's Sanity

Malik has started on solids for around two weeks and, as I had done with learning everything there is about breastfeeding, I began reading wide ranges of (online) literature on infant feeding. And, as I had with weighing the pros and cons of breastfeeding and expressing breast milk, I began weighing the pros and cons of homemade food and commercial baby food (jar).

Most articles advocate homemade baby food for freshness, nutrition and substance control (texture, combination, etc). Not to mention the slogans of 'if you can give your baby the best, why settle for good' and 'feed with love'. Some articles take into account the issue of practicality (working moms, affordability, hygiene, etc) which are less judgmental towards commercial baby food (fortification, controlled hygiene, etc). Then the debate of practicality continues to the solution of freezing homemade food.

And it goes on. And on. And on.

So did a bit of my sanity.

Then I stumbled upon a blog, written by an articulate, caring mother saying that, in the middle of all this debate over nutrition, practicality, what-have-yous, the most important thing is for the mother (or parent) to maintain sanity.

You can give your child the best of nutrition but it won't substitute your time spent stimulating their development by being 'present' (broadest sense of the word) for them when playing, learning, interacting. I do agree that nutrition is important, but it is not either or. It should be a balance between both.

So I guess, I advocate for whatever works. To each parenting style their own. Homemade food is not always best when the parent has no energy left to play with their child.

So I guess, the saying 'if you can give your baby the best, why settle for good' should be applied in a broader context. 'Best' is not only exclusive to what they eat but it also includes reading them books, singing to them, bathing them, changing their diapers and not so easy on handing them over to nannies.

And, as a working mom who is doing her best juggling both worlds, I will also try not to be judgmental towards those who decide otherwise.