April 22, 2007
Collaboration 2.0: Sam Ford and Soap Operas

On Friday evening, the first presentation as part of C3's Collaboration 2.0 was actually one that some readers of this blog might be quite familiar with, since my research has been built through a variety of posts here and some of the insights of various readers who have posted comments in response to those ideas. My thesis research here at MIT has focused on taking the perspective of the Convergence Culture Consortium and apply the types of issues we look at here to the soap opera industry in particular.

I'm a longtime soaps fan, and my interest in watching CBS' As the World Turns was driven by my grandmother and my mother's relationship with their "story." Today, my mom still watches, and my wife and I watch soap operas regularly. My contention has long been that soap operas can only truly be understood as a social text that reaches its fullest potential when one takes into account these relationships that are built around the daily text.

As I've worked on this research on the soap opera industry for the past two years, I have presented my work on a regular basis here on the blog as it has developed, and I have been appreciative by the many readers here, on soap opera fan boards, and in the industry for their insights that helped shape my study. Most recently, I was part of the soap opera panel at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association's national conference here in Boston, sharing my work with academics who have long worked on the soap opera genre such as Barbara Irwin and Mary Cassata. We had a soap opera roundtable afterward, joined by great thinkers like David Feldman and others, who even further helped develop some of these ideas.

See my C3 bio here.

My thesis project will be defended here at MIT at the beginning of May, and any of the readers who have posted about my soap opera research in the past who might be interested in knowing more about my research can reach me at samford@mit.edu.

For readers curious about my work and this presentation at Collaboration 2.0, however, I will point you toward some of my previous posts on the subject here on the blog:

Legacy Characters and Rich History: How Soap Operas Must Capitalize on Their History (and Pay Attention to the Lessons of the WWE)

Oakdale Confidential: Secrets Revealed: How the Book's Reprint Is an Even More Striking Example of Transmedia Storytelling (with a Tangent about Bad Twin at Intermission)

Building Soaps as Long-Term Brands: A Diatribe on Laura's Return on General Hospital

Soap Operas in Convergence Culture and the Self-Fulfilling Propehcy of "a Genre in Decline"

Y&R/ATWT's L.A. Diaries on CBS innertube: An Intriguing Approach to Transmedia Storytelling