April 28, 2006
C3 Retreat's First Day

We had very productive conversations yesterday at the first day of our Convergence Culture Consortium (C3) conference/retreat for several of our associated faculty and representatives from some of our corporate partners as well. We've been talking about the nature of convergence culture and how it affects the media industry, fan communities, and those studying the media.

What's great about this environment, where distinguished academic minds from around the world come together with some of the most innovative thinkers in the media industry, is that a genuine dialogue bridging the gap between academics and the industry we are studying begins to take place. Sure, as Henry Jenkins pointed out in our introductory notes yesterday, business people have a language of their own, and academics often speak a language that seem to have little to do with English, but we have seen those linguistic obstructions to be hurdled throught the past day.

Henry's comments and William Uricchio's insights about historic media in transition, one of his areas of specialty that he has published on several times, set the stage for an illuminating panel that was open to Comparative Media Studies students, in addition to conference attendees, here at MIT last night. Since that session was open to the public--whereas the earlier sessions and all of today's sessions are private for our C3 team members, we can go into a little more detail about the nature of yeseterday evening's presentations.

Ian Condry, an anthropologist on the faculty here at MIT, joined Rob Kozinets, marketing professor at York University in Toronto, participated in a discussion with Henry Jenkins about some of the current meanings of convergence for both fan communities and brand communities. Both Ian and Rob are associated faculty with C3.

Ian's presentation looked at fan subtitling of anime that has not yet been marketed in the United States. Ian has been researching this community and the anime industry in general for several years.

Rob focused on the changing nature of looking at brands in the experience economy, tied to his in-depth research on Burning Man, the annual celebration of art and humanity that takes place out in the Nevada desert.

What was interesting was in seeing how attitudes in fan communities and brand communities, as presented by Ian and Rob, both converged and collided, and the discussion that ensued about how the existing media industry can learn from and make decisions based on these communities and activities.

Both Ian's and Rob's sites point to their related published research on these topics, but they started a vibrant discussion last night that has everything to do with what we blog about every week here on the C3 site, and we'd like to extend this discussion to our extended C3 family here on the site, if anyone has any thoughts on these issues...