Convergence 2006: Opening Remarks and Media in Transition

The first annual C3 conference, Convergence 2006: There Is No Box, was held on the MIT campus April 27-29, 2006. This video includes the opening remarks by Henry Jenkins (MIT) and Beth Coleman (MIT) and the first session, 'Media in Transition' by William Uricchio (MIT).

We start the C3 conference with a conversation about the current moment of media convergence seen through the lens of earlier moments of cultural and technological transition: the advent of the printing press, the development of still photography, the telegraph, the telephone, the motion picture, broadcast television. How can we understand the future by looking to the past? Should we be trying to understand "disruptive technologies" or disruptive uses of technology? Are there recurring patterns in terms of the cultural, economic, and social responses to such transformative moments which can help us to understand contemporary media change?

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Convergence 2006: Notions of Loyalty Within Brand and Fan Cultures

The CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, Kevin Roberts, coined the term 'lovemarks' to describe consumer's passionate relationship with certain products, services and experiences. Key brands, he argues, inspire "loyalty beyond reason". What do anthropologists know about this kind of loyalty? And how might such insights inform business and marketing strategies? Why should companies adopt a collaborationist rather than prohibitionist logic in responding to their most committed consumers?

Ian Condry (MIT) will discuss the "dark energy" of the fans who translate and distribute the latest broadcasts of Japanese animated TV shows. Fansub groups view their activities as an expression of their loyalty and devotion to anime culture, but critics see nothing but piracy and betrayal.

Why do some brands become cults and why does it matter? Robert Kozinets (York College, Canada) will discuss the consumer passion behind the success of such brands as Star Wars, ESPN, Disney, Wal-Mart, Volkswagen, Toys R Us, the Apple Newton and iPod, Nike, Starbucks, Quisp Cereal and, perhaps most improbably, the Burning Man brand.

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Convergence 2006: Changing The Way You Think of Us

Newsweek recently asked us to consider who put the "we" in Web. Tim O'Reilly has argued that the next wave of successful companies will be those who understand how to "harness the power of collective intelligence." We (whoever we are) now live at a moment when everyday consumers can archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media with ease. How should this change the way your company does business? Shenja van der Graaf (London School of Economics) discusses how web 2.0 is impacting content creation, delivery, marketing, and consumer relations, identifying some of the pioneering companies playing in this space and the best practices which keep them ahead of the game.

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Convergence 2006: Of Brands and Sailing Ships

Market places are fragmenting. Consumer taste and preference is relentlessly dynamic. Marketing models are now increasingly various, contested, and, sometimes, panic driven. Building brands that can withstand these stress factors is not easy. In this presentation, Grant McCracken offers us a "sailing ship" model of the brand.

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Convergence 2006: Niche Try!: Minority Taste, Minority Politics

Long Tail economics depends on targeting ever more precise niches of consumers. But how well do media companies know the people who are consuming their products? And how can they align their interests with those of their consumers?

Humanistic researchers have developed rich theoretical frameworks for understanding and representing how tastes, styles, and cultural identities emerge from our lived experiences and change in response to larger technological, social, cultural, and economic shifts. Hugo Liu (MIT) explores ways that we can operationalize those understandings, building new tools and models which can help companies and consumers better understand how taste operates.

A strange fusion of niche marketing and internet activism, affinity portals are cashing in on online communities. These affinity portals certainly offer a variety of resources that empower their patrons as consumers, but what role do they play in empowering their patrons as citizens? Can these commercial sites advance the political interests of historically marginalized communities? John Campbell (Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania) asks whether good politics equals good business. Could empowering citizens be the key to insure long-term consumer loyalty?

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Convergence 2006: The Globalization of Media

American television flows East and Asian media flows West. But what does it all mean? How can we predict what content works and what doesn't as we move into a global media marketplace?

Dawson's Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even The West Wing sells in markets around the world, but are people in those markets watching "American television"? How do local stations localize these shows for their markets and why? What role do audiences play in reshaping the meaning of these series? An Australian researcher, Joshua Green (Queensland University of Technology) tells us what it means to watch American series from an Australian perspective.

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Convergence 2006: Doing Business in Multiplayer Game Worlds

You've heard the stories about massively multiplayer games becoming some of the largest economies in the world. Some people earn their living by selling virtual real estate, while others are spending more time on their second life than they spent on their first. So how can your company collect some of those gold coins? If advertising involves turning products into "the stuff that dreams are made of," what can games teach us about consumer fantasies and desires? Who should you be trying to pitch – the gamers or their avatars? How can you sell stuff in Alphaville if you don't even live there? Join us for a frank discussion about the challenges and opportunities of marketing and branding within MMOPRGS with David Edery (MIT), Paul Hemp (Harvard Business Review), Ilya Vedrashko (MIT) and Chris Weaver (MIT).

Download MP4 video (1:07, 275.3MB)

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The logics of convergence culture are quickly becoming ubiquitous within the media world. Audiences are being encouraged to participate in a wider range of sites. Transmedia principles are being adopted by content producers in a broad range of fields. 'Engagement' is being discussed as crucial to measurements of success. Futures of Entertainment 2 brought together key industry players who are shaping these new directions in our culture with academics exploring their implications. The 2007 conference focused on developments in advertising, cult media, metrics, measurement, and accounting for audiences, cultural labor and audience relations, and mobile platform development. The conference Web site is available here.

Opening Comments

Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green

The opening comments featured C3 Director Dr. Henry Jenkins and C3 Research Manager Joshua Green looking back at some of the major developments in the media industries over the past year.

The opening comments are available in both audio and 320x240 video form.

Mobile Media

Panelists: Marc Davis, Yahoo!; Bob Schukai, Turner Broadcasting; Alice Kim, MTV Networks

Beyond the launch of shiny new devices, the mobile market has been dominated by data services and re-formatted content. Wifi connections and the expansion of 3G phone networks enable pushing more data to wireless devices faster, yet we still seem to be waiting for the arrival of mobile's "killer app". This panel muses on the future of mobile services as devices for convergence culture. What role can mobile services play in remix culture? What makes successful mobile gaming work? What are the stumbling blocks to making the technological promise of convergence devices match the realities of the market? Is podcasting the first and last genre of content? What is the significance of geotagging and place-awareness?

The mobile media panel audio and video will be made available shortly.

Metrics and Measurement

Panelists: Bruce Leichtman, Leichtman Research Group; Stacey Lynn Schulman, Turner Broadcasting; Maury Giles, GSD&M Idea City

As media companies have come to recognize the value of participatory audiences, they have searched for matrixes by which to measure engagement with their properties. A model based on impressions is giving way to new models which seek to account for the range of different ways consumers engage with entertainment content. But nobody is quite clear how you can "count" engaged consumers or how you can account for various forms and qualities of engagement. Over the past several years, a range of different companies have proposed alternative systems for measuring engagement. What are the strengths and limits of these competing models? What aspects of audience activity do they account for? What value do they place on different forms of engagement?

The Metrics and Measurement panel is available in audio, 320x240 video, and 640x480 video.

Fan Labor

Panelists: Mark Deuze, Indiana University; Catherine Tosenberger, University of Florida; Jordan Greenhall, DivX; Elizabeth Osder, Buzznet; Raph Koster, Areae

There is growing anxiety about the way labor is compensated in Web 2.0. The accepted model -- trading content in exchange for connectivity or experience -- is starting to strain, particularly as the commodity culture of user-generated content confronts the gift economy which has long characterized the participatory fan cultures of the web. The incentives which work to encourage participation in some spaces are alienating other groups and many are wondering what kinds of revenue sharing should or could exist when companies turn a profit based on the unpaid labor of their consumers. What do we know now about the "architecture of participation" (to borrow Kevin O'Reilly's formulation) that we didn't know a year ago? What have been the classic mistakes which Web 2.0 companies have made in their interactions with their customers? What do we gain by applying a theory of labor to think about the invisible work performed by fans and other consumers within the new media economy?

The Fan Labor panel is available in audio and 320x240 video form.

Second Day Opening Panel

Panelists: Jason Mittell, Jonatahan Gray, and C. Lee Harrington

Three academic speakers take a broader look at the panels that took place on the opening day and preview the discussion coming up the second day, as well as discussing how a forum like Futures of Entertainment might inspire academia and the media industry to have more of a dialogue.

The opening comments from the second day are available in audio, 320x240 video, and 640x480 video form.

Advertising and Convergence Culture

Panelists: Mike Rubenstein, The Barbarian Group; Baba Shetty, Hill/Holliday; Tina Wells, Buzz Marketing Group; Faris Yakob, Naked Communications; Bill Fox, Fidelity Investments

Migratory audiences and declining channel loyalty are seen as two key challenges convergence culture poses to the advertising industry. At the same time, campaigns that respond by capitalizing on the creativity of audiences prompt questions about the continuing role for creatives. This panel looks at the unfolding role for advertisers within convergence culture, looking at questions about the nature of agencies, transmedia planning and the increasing circulation of advertising as entertainment content. Does the agency structure need to be rethought? What are the implications of breaking down the distinction between content and advertising? What are effective ways to collaborate with creative audiences? How is convergence culture changing the value of different advertising sites?

The Advertising and Convergence Culture panel is available in audio and 320x240 video form.

Cult Media

Panelists: Danny Bilson, Transmedia Creator; Jeff Gomez, Starlight Runner; Jesse Alexander, Heroes; Gordon Tichell, Walden Media

Cult properties have become mass entertainment. Marvel's success bringing comic book characters to the big screen and the resurgence of the space opera suggest niche properties may no longer mean marginalized audience appeal. This panel explores the politics, pitfalls, and potentials of exploiting niches and mainstreaming once marginalized properties. How do you stay true to the few but build properties attractive to the many? What role do fans play in developing cult properties for success? Is it profitable to build a franchise on the intense interest of the few and relyi on Long Tail economics? Are smaller audiences viable in the short term, or do we need to rethink the length of time for a reasonable return?

The Cult Media panel is available in audio, 320x240 video, and 640x480 video form.


The first annual Futures of Entertainment conference assembled a host of academics, creatives and industry professionals at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to discuss games, comics, television, transmedia storytelling, alternate reality games, user-generated content, fan cultures, and other developments affecting the entertainment industry. The conference Web site is available here.

Opening Remarks

Henry Jenkins

C3's director delivers the opening statement about the launch of Futures of Entertainment and the ideas which inspired the conference and the Consortium.

Henry Jenkins' opening comments are available in audio and video form.

Television Futures

Panelists: Andy Hunter, Mark Warshaw, Josh Bernoff, and Betsy Morgan

New distribution methods, new revenue strategies and changing modes of audience engagement are transforming how television works. Off- and post-broadcast markets make 'old' television valuable as a continuing source of income and suggest new ways to reach viewers. Digital video recorders threaten the 30-second commercial but offer the possibility of more detailed information about audience members. Some television producers may reach out to consumers directly rather than going through the networks and networks are using online distribution to generate buzz about new shows before they reach the air. Creative responses to these challenges are re-writing how we understand what was once just the box in the corner.

The television futures panel is available in audio form.

User-Generated Content

Panelists: Caterina Fake, Ji Lee, Rob Tercek, and Kevin Barrett

Media culture is becoming more participatory, rewriting the relations between media producers and consumers. New tools and distribution platforms, a changing cultural ethos, and innovative corporate approaches to user-generated content are turning viewers into active participants. Innovation may occur at the grassroots level yet influence decisions made within corporate media. Yet, are media companies ready for the grassroots creativity they are unleashing? What challenges does greater user-participation pose to both producers and audiences? What corporate policies enable or retard the growth of user-generated content?

The user-generated content panel is available in audio and video form.

Transmedia Properties

Panelists: Paul Levitz, Michael Lebowitz, and Alex Chisholm

The cultural logic of convergence lends itself to a flow of narratives, characters, and worlds across media platforms. Moving beyond older models based on liscensed ancillary products, transmedia extensions are now seen as expanding the opportunities for storytelling, enabling new kinds of entertainment experiences, building up secondary characters or backstory. Transmedia extension may also create alternative openings for different market segments and enable more extensive contact with brands. The great potential of transmediation is to deepen audience engagement, but this requires greater awareness of the specific benefits of working within different platforms. How are media companies organizing the development of transmedia properties? How are storytellers taking advantage of the "expanded canvas" such an approach offers? How do transmedia strategies impact the new integration between brands and entertainment properties? What new expectations do transmedia properties place on consumers?

The transmedia properties panel is available in audio and video form.

Second Day Introduction

Joshua Green

C3's Research Manager Dr. Joshua Green delivers the opening comments on the second day about viscerality and convergence culture.

The second day introduction is available in audio and video form.

Fan Cultures

Panelists: Diane Nelson, danah boyd, and Molly Chase

Once seen as marginal or niche consumers, Fan communities look more 'mainstream' than ever before. Some have argued that the practices of web 2.0 are really those of fan culture without the stigma. Courted, encouraged, engaged and acknowledged, fans are more and more frequently being recognized as trendsetters, viral marketers, and grassroots intermediaries. Fan affinity is being seized as a form of grassroots marketing, representing the bleeding edge of brand and property commitment. The sophistication of fan-created products rivals the professional products they honor, sometimes keeping defunct properties alive long after their shelf life might otherwise have expired. How is the increasing importance of fan behavior re-writing the media landscape? What kinds of accountability should media companies have to their most committed consumers? What kinds of value do fans create through their activities? What are the sources of tension that still exist between media producers, advertisers, and fans?

The fan cultures panel is available audio and video form.

Not the Real World Anymore

Panelists: John Lester, Ron Meiners, and Todd Cunningham

Virtual spaces are more than sites for emulating the real world. They are becoming platforms for thought experiments -- some of which involve fantasies we would not like to enact in the real world, others involve possibilities that we may want to test market before putting into practice. Much more than simulacra of Real Life or a 3D version of text-based Internet communities, online worlds represent new sites for considering questions of community and connectivity. Marked by user- creativity, online worlds balance, sometimes precariously, the rights of users with the rights of sponsoring organizations. As we move closer to the cyberpunk vision of a wholly parallel 'metaverse', questions of power, community, and property are coming to the fore.

The Not the Real World Anymore panel is available in audio and video form.


The Comparative Media Studies program hosts a number of speakers every year as a part of its Colloquia and Communications Forum lecture series. Recordings of these lectures are made available as podcasts every week on the CMS website. The podcasts below have been selected as the most intriguing to followers of Convergence Culture.

For more information on CMS and Communications Forum events, please visit

NBC's Heroes: "Appointment TV" to "Engagement TV"?

Nov. 15, 2007

mit-comm-forum_logo.jpgThe fragmenting audiences and proliferating channels of contemporary television are changing how programs are made and how they appeal to viewers and advertisers. Some media and advertising spokesman are arguing that smaller, more engaged audiences are more valuable than the passive viewers of the Broadcast Era. They focus on the number of viewers who engage with the program and its extensions -- web sites, podcasts, digital comics, games, and so forth. What steps are networks taking to prolong and enlarge the viewer's experience of a weekly series? How are networks and production companies adapting to and deploying digital technologies and the Internet? And what challenges are involved in creating a series in which individual episodes are only part of an imagined world that can be accessed on a range of devices and that appeals to gamesters, fans of comics, lovers of message boards or threaded discussions, digital surfers of all sorts? In this Forum, producers from the NBC series Heroes will discuss their hit show as well as the nature of network programming, the ways in which audiences are measured, the extension of television content across multiple media channels, and the value producers play on the most active segments of their audiences.

More information on this event, the speakers, and a summary of the event can be found at the website for the MIT Communications Forum.

Heroes - recorded November 15, 2007 - (2hrs / 81.9MB)

Technology & Media in the Experience Economy

Sept. 17, 2007

Author and management advisor B. Joseph Pine II discusses how ideas outlined in his book The Experience Economy fit within the context of digital technologies, virtual worlds, and convergence culture.

Technology & Media in the Experience Economy - recorded September 17, 2007 (1hr20min / 74.2MB)

The Harry Potter Alliance: How the myth of Harry Potter is changing the world

Sept. 13, 2007

Andrew Slack, founder of The HP Alliance, an organization seeking to engage Harry Potter fans in social and political activism, discusses the origins and motivations behind the group and their current project to raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur.

The Harry Potter Alliance: How the myth of Harry Potter is changing the world - recorded September 13, 2007 - (1hr38min / 90.1MB)

This One's Gonna Be a Slobberknocker

June 13, 2007

Jim Ross, the longtime voice of World Wrestling Entertainment, joins CMS graduate student Sam Ford to discuss the unique blend of reality and fiction in the world of American professional wrestling world. Ross will talk about how WWE’s distribution across multiple media platforms creates an interesting storytelling atmosphere, and he will share experiences from his many years in the television industry as wrestling has moved from broadcast to cable and pay-per-view and now to DVD distribution, on-demand, and the Web. See Ross’s Web site at

NOTE: This was the first of two colloquia about American professional wrestling organized this term by Sam Ford ’07. Ford taught a spring class on the pro wrestling industry and is a researcher for the Convergence Culture Consortium. He is a weekly columnist for the Ohio County Times-News in Hartford, Ky., and performs in pro wrestling events on occasion.

“This One’s Gonna Be a Slobberknocker” - recorded March 22, 2007 - (1hr50min / 50.8MB)

Love May Not Be in the Afternoon Anymore: A Q&A with Soap Opera Writer Kay Alden About How the Genre Is (and/or Should Be) Changing with the Times

May 7, 2007

Longtime soap opera writer Kay Alden talks about her decades in the industry with CMS graduate student Sam Ford ’07 who is writing his thesis about soap operas. Alden worked for more than 30 years on The Young and the Restless, the top-rated daytime drama that she served as head writer for from 1998 to 2006. Recently, she took on a consulting position with ABC Daytime and continues working with the genre during what is seen as a period of substantial change for the daytime television industry. Ford’s thesis, “"As the World Turns in a Convergence Environment",” focuses on the shifting technologies and cultural patterns that are affecting daytime television.

Love May Not Be in the Afternoon Anymore - recorded May 2, 2007 - (1hr31min / 41.8MB)

MIT 5: Copyright, Fair Use and the Cultural Commons

April 28, 2007

mit-comm-forum_logo.jpgHow has the American tradition of intellectual property law understood the relationship between originality and tradition? What rights do artists and educators have to draw inspiration from or comment on existing works in existing media? What habits, beliefs, legal and policy decisions threaten the emergence of a more participatory culture? What have people done, and what can we do to protect the Fair Use rights of artists, educators, and amateurs so that explore the opportunities created by new media and a networked society?

The full speaker list can be found at this sessions' website as well as a RealAudio stream.

The Media in Transitions conference is a joint effort of MIT Comparative Media Studies and the MIT Communications Forum.

MIT 5: Copyright, Fair Use and the Cultural Commons - recorded Apr. 28, 2007 - (1hr27min / 100.3MB)

MIT 5: Collaboration and Collective Intelligence

April 28, 2007

mit-comm-forum_logo.jpg"Collective Intelligence" and "the wisdom of crowds" have become central buzz phrases in recent discussions of networked culture. But what do they really mean? What do we know about the new forms of collaboration that is emerging as people work together across geographic distances online? Are we working, learning, socializing, creating, consuming, and playing in new ways as a result of the emergence of our participation in online communities? What have we learned over the past decade that may help us to design more powerful communities in the real world? What lessons can we carry from our Second Lives into our First?

The full speaker list can be found at this sessions' website as well as a RealAudio stream.

The Media in Transitions conference is a joint effort of MIT Comparative Media Studies and the MIT Communications Forum.

MIT 5: Collaboration and Collective Intelligence - recorded Apr. 27, 2007 - (1hr30min / 103.1MB)

MIT 5: Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures

April 27, 2007

mit-comm-forum_logo.jpgDigital visionaries such as Yochai Benkler have described the emergence of a new networked culture in which participants with differing intentions and professional credentials co-exist and cooperate in a complex media ecology. Are we witnessing the appearance of a new or revitalized folk culture? Are there older traditions and practices from print culture or oral societies that resemble these emerging digital practices? What sort of amateur or grassroots creativity have been studied or documented by literary scholars, anthropologists, and students of folklore? How were creativity and collaboration understood in earlier cultures? Are there lessons or cautions for digital culture in the near or distant past?

The full speaker list can be found at this sessions' website as well as a RealAudio stream.

The Media in Transitions conference is a joint effort of MIT Comparative Media Studies and the MIT Communications Forum.

MIT 5: Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures - recorded Apr. 27, 2007 - (1hr51min / 102.4MB)

Old World, New World: How Communities, Culture, Connectivity, and Commerce are Changing How We Create Culture, Media, Education and Politics

Communities Dominate Brands

Alan Moore, CEO of engagement marketing company SMLXL and co-author of Communities Dominate Brands, believes that community-based engagement initiatives and the enabling of peer-to-peer flows of communication within organizations, and those that engage with them, will replace the traditional media orthodoxies of government, management, business, media distribution and marketing.

Old World, New World: How Communities, Culture, Connectivity, and Commerce are Changing How We Create Culture, Media, Education and Politics - recorded Mar. 15, 2007 - (1hr41min / 46.7MB)

Half-Real: A Video Game in the Hands of a Player

December 21, 2006

Half-RealThis is an video recording of a lecture Jesper Juul gave to us on November 28, 2006.

What happens when a player picks up video game, learns to play it, masters it, and leaves it? Using concepts from my book on video games, Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, I will argue that video game players are neither rational solvers of abstract problems, nor daydreamers in fictional worlds, but both of these things with shifting emphasis. The unique quality of video games is to be located in their intricate interplay of rules and fictions, which I will examine across genres, from casual games to massively multiplayer games.

Jesper Juul is a video game theorist and assistant professor in video game theory and design at the Centre for Computer Game Research Copenhagen where he also earned his Ph.D. His book Half-Real on video game theory was published by MIT Press in 2005. Additionally, he works as a multi-user chat systems and casual game developer. He is currently a visiting scholar at Parsons School of Design in New York.

Half-Real - Recorded Nov. 28, 2006 (Video/MP4 - 1hr8min / 231MB)

Half-Real - Recorded Nov. 28, 2006 (Audio/MP3 - 1hr8min / 47.2MB)

Scott Donaton, Marketing in the Age of Consumer Empowerment

October 19, 2006

Scott Donaton, associate publisher and editorial director of the Ad Age Group and author of Madison & Vine talked about why user-empowerment is the key trend in business, and the ways marketers are adapting to it, including the rise of branded entertainment.

Marketing in the Age of Consumer Empowerment - recorded Oct. 12, 2006 (1hr25 min / 39.4 MB)

News, Information, and the Wealth of Networks


This entry in the MIT Communications Forum series, Will Newspapers Survive?, hosted Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, and included our directors, Henry Jenkins and William Uricchio.

The next entry in this series, Why Newspapers Matter will be held October 5, 2006 from 5-7 PM at Bartos Theater, and like all of our events is open to the public. Check our website regularly for more upcoming events.

News, Information, and the Wealth of Networks - recorded Sept. 21, 2006 (2hr 1min / 55.4 MB)