May 29, 2007

GSD&M's Andy Hunter and Information Visualization

A wide variety of people read the Convergence Culture Consortium Weblog on a semi-regular basis but may not completely understand what it is we do. First off, all the information on what C3 is and what we do here at MIT is available here.

Basically, a core group of researchers--led by Henry Jenkins and Dr. Joshua Green--work here on research projects. The team is made up primarily of graduate students in the Program in Comparative Media Studies here at MIT, with involvement from a few others, and as part of a community that also includes affiliated faculty and researchers not just here at MIT but located across the country, and even around the world. (Look through our people section for more.)

Our project is funded by a variety of corporate partners who engage with us on our research, collaborating with us. It's not a client relationship but rather a fluid partnership in which people on both the industry and academic sides of many of these questions of "convergence culture" have conversations and share work.

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Fantasia Film Festival Programming Director Hired To Scout for Paramount

Fellow Convergence Culture Consortium Media Analyst Geoffrey Long recently passed some news my way that I found quite interesting. For those of you who might not have heard, the programming director of the Fantasia Film Festival has been hired by Paramount's Blumhouse Productions and its partner ROOM 101 to serve as a scout for international films that might be particularly ripe for Hollywood remakes.

Mitch Davis, the Fantasia director, is also a celebrated filmmaker in his own right and has served in a variety of capacities on the independent level.

The deal signals a continued and interesting shift in how films are sought out and produced, and Davis seems the perfect candidate, as he is directly poised in the international genre film community, particularly in regard to horror films. Mack at Twitch posted the release, which stated that "Fantasia Film Festival has been regularly cited as the place where the Western J-horror craze began. It was the first film festival in North America to screen a film by Takashi Miike (Audition), the original Ringu, and others.

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CW and MediaVest Plan for Series with No Traditional Ad Content

One of the most interesting stories stemming from the upfronts in TelevisionWeek was Jon Lafayette's piece on The CW selling a show with no traditional advertising in it.

First, for those who haven't heard, the CW Network will be launching a show on Sunday nights called CW Now which will cover new trends in popular culture and consumer culture. The show will not include any traditional 30-second spots. Instead, giant media agency MediaVest has purchased complete sponsorship of the series and will air integrated branded content rather than traditional commercials.

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May 28, 2007

Concepts from the C3 Weblog

For the final post in wrapping up a look at the body of work the C3 team has aided me with in putting up here on the site, I wanted to point the way toward a few concepts that have been articulated publicly here on the Convergence Culture Consortium site through the blog in the past year to direct people to the posts explaining them in further detail, as well as terms or concepts from Henry Jenkins' work, and those of us at the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, that have made their way into our posts from time-to-time.

1.) Immersive Story Worlds. This is a concept that I developed in conjunction with my thesis work on looking at the current state and the future of the soap opera industry. The idea was to outline a category that explains narratives which are serial by nature, which have multiple creators, a sense of long-term continuity, a character backlog, contemporary ties to a deep history, and a sense of permanence. I included portions of my thesis outlining this concept--and how it relates to the Marvel and DC Comic Universes, the world of pro wrestling, and daytime serial dramas--here and here.

2.) Transmedia Storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is meant to indicate texts in which the story develops through multiple media platforms and in which new content in another platform is not simply a redistribution of the same content that has already appeared elsewhere. We have a whole category of posts about the topic here.

3.) Cross-Platform Distribution. As opposed to transmedia storytelling, cross-platform distribution is simply the reappearance of content from one platform in another, such as making broadcast television shows available in VOD, cable shows available on YouTube, etc. We also have a whole category of posts on this topic available here.

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Most Popular Content on C3 Site--Search Engines

In this final part of looking at measurement and using C3's own site as an example, I thought it would be prudent to look at where viewers came from as well. The first post noted the 10 most viewed posts in the site's history since measuring traffic through Google Analytics starting last Halloween. While two posts (about Scarred and Weeds) were driven primarily by search engines, most of the others were either driven by significant fan discussion board traffic (the soaps boards) or by being linked from a variety of blogs (the posts on Turner Super Deluxe and the Cartoon Network host, as well as about teens in social networks).

However, according to Google Analytics, while 15 percent of the traffic is made up of direct clicks to the site and 29 percent is through links/referrals, 56 percent come from search engines, with 49 percent of C3's traffic coming from Google and almost 4 percent from Yahoo!'s search function.

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Most Popular Content on C3 Site--RSS Feeds

While my previous post looked at the most popular content as was found by search engines, C3's posts receive many more views by RSS feeds at this point than they do live page visits. I thought it would be interesting to compare the top ten viewed pages from page clicks to those from Feedburner, showing a much different picture of what the most popular content from the site has been.

Most of the ten posts listed previously were driven for a particular reason--the Scarred and Weeds posts by a high number of search engine viewers looking for info on those two series, and, for most of the other pages, a variety of blogs which linked back to C3's page, or else a following from the soap opera fan community for which discussion boards linked to particular posts.

Since RSS feeds look at those who are already interested in the site, they find what C3's regular subscribers have been interested in reading. C3 has been measured through Feedburner since September 29, and we have had an average of 541 subscribers throughout that whole period. The growth in subscriptions has been steady throughout, and we have an average of 938 subscribers for the past 30 days.

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Most Popular Content on C3 Site--Page Views

Yesterday, I published a list of a variety of posts from the first year of the Convergence Culture Consortium that had not been referenced again very often because they did not necessarily deal with ongoing stories, but which I thought might be worth a second look.

Today, I wanted to follow that up by addressing what has been our most popular content, at least according to those tools at Google Analytics. Keep in mind that, as I've written about before, there are a variety of factors of determining what posts are REALLY the most popular.

While our site began almost a year prior, we didn't start measuring these statistics until Halloween 2006. In the past seven months, though, I will list what has been some of our most popular posts.

Of course, the most popular page has, by far, been the main page of the blog, followed by the main page of the site, our main archive page, and our pages about C3 and the people involved with the consortium, as well as Henry Jenkins' book Convergence Culture.

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May 27, 2007

Links to Interesting Posts from Bryant, Mittell, Baym, Jenkins, Snark

I don't often do this, but I thought it might be good during a Memorial Day weekend to provide a variety of links to several relevant blogs that I think would be worth a look at if you have the time:

See Reel Pop, where The Hollywood Reporter's Steve Bryant has been covering the failures of for some time and now reports that the initiative may shut down by the end of the year. He provides links to his analysis as to why the online video content project would fail.

See Just TV, where Jason Mittell provides some detailed reaction to the release of the 2006-2007 Nielsen ratings chart. He concludes, "These numbers are based on the measured viewing of 10,000 households. There is a margin of error, which is never published in the press and cannot be found on Nielsen's website. Believe these numbers as representing actual behaviors at your own risk." Amen.

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Looking Back at Some Posts from C3's First Year

With the proliferation of content here on the C3 site, I know that the backlog of posts can be daunting, and a lot of ideas can get lost in the mix. In the process, I'm sure many of you who read here regularly know that I like to link to recent posts on similar topics or even posts from the archive that are relevant to current issues.

However, there are a variety of topics that were covered in the first year or so of C3's blog that have not been returned to quite as often and which still seem relevant to issues that we discuss here on a regular basis, just not so that they get linked to again on a regular basis.

The C3 blog has grown and expanded over the past year, and I thought it would be good to direct some attention back to some of these issues covered in the first year of our blog, before many of you may have started reading.

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Cultural Biases and Academic Research: Housel's Review of The Toothpaste of Immortality

Earlier today, I wrote about a piece from the last issue of The Journal of Popular Culture which focuses particularly on how the image of the celebrity endorser is constructed, a question which I think is particularly interesting in an age where a larger number of people than ever might be considered a celebrity of sorts and in which well-known fans within fan communities serve a pivotal role as either grassroots marketers or grassroots critics of one's product or brand.

In this vein, a review toward the back of the current issue caught my eye as well. The Rochester Institute of Technology's Rebecca Housel provides a look at an interesting book that hadn't yet crossed my radar: Elemér Hankiss' 2006 book from The Johns Hopkins University Press, entitled The Toothpaste of Immortality: Self-Construction in the Consumer Age. Hankiss, a sociologist, looks at what patterns of consumption in advertising means in American culture.

But what I found so fascinating was much less the book but rather the review.

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Understanding Celebrity Endorsements and Meaning Transfer

Perusing through April's edition of The Journal of Popular Culture, I found a particularly interesting piece by UT-Austin Assistant Professor of Advertising Sejung Marina Choi and Michigan State University advertising professor Nora J. Rifton focusing on the celebrity in American television advertising.

Their work is based on the definition of the celebrity spokesperson set forth in C3 Affiliated Faculty Grant McCracken's 1989 Journal of Consumer Research piece "Who Is the Celebrity Endorser? Cultural Foundations of the Endorsement Process," in which he he writes that a celebrity spokesperson is "any individual who enjoys public recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appearing with it in an advertisement" (p. 310).

This essay's premise is that, while work has already done on the effectiveness of these celebrity endorsements, there are still questions about "what constitutes those images and how the deconstructed elements influence advertising effects (p. 305). By focusing on Grant's work about how meaning can transfer from the celebrity to the product in the endorsement process, the study's raison d'etre is to create a quantifiable scale to measure the image of the celebrity and to understand how the image affects credibility.

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May 26, 2007

Joost Inks a Deal with the CAA

Earlier today, I wrote about VOD and online video platforms and their struggle with each other to establish themselves as places for alternatives to linear channels for television content. Joost has involved itself in a variety of interesting projects, including Lime's shift from a linear television channel to one distributed through VOD and Joost (through Yahoo! Health).

In an increasingly crowded marketplace of potential competitors, Joost has taken an interesting approach: getting an agent.

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Fan Videos and Lucasfilm

I was interested by the recent news that Lucasfilm wants to empower fan proselytism of its forthcoming animated television series by making some of its copyrighted material available for fans to create their own videos about the show, through Eyespot.

In short, the company has made the tools available on its Star Wars Web site, which features "a Web browser-based, drag and drop editing application that allows fans to play with copyright media without having to download additional software to their computers," according to TelevisionWeek's Alex Romanelli.

Since Lucasfilm hopes to create 100 episodes of the series before it ever shops it around, the company would benefit greatly from creating as much goodwill from its fans as possible during this process, so that there will be as much demand for the product as possible once the 100 episodes are "in the can" (in a metaphorical sense, of course).

What fascinated me most is Romanelli's linking this to Sci Fi's decision to make an online library of clips available, as well as tools for sound and visual effects and editing to enable the production of fan films.

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VOD vs. Online Video: Alternative Methods for Television Content

The approaches to non-linear television content has been a major point of discussion over the past year, both in my own writing and in following the coverage in the industry press, particularly in TelevisionWeek. In particular, there has been an interesting juxtaposition between using more traditional platforms, particularly cable television and satellite, versus using digital methods of distribution, such as working with new video distributors or a network's own Web site.

These questions were raised again this week with Daisy Whitney's story about Concert.TV, the VOD channel which is launching a broadband component to its online services, featuring similar programming to their VOD channel.

One thing is clear: there are a variety of methods that are cheaper and more sustainable for upstart businesses than launching a traditional linear cable channel. The question remains, though, how to make that presence felt. This bifurcated model, of course, solves a lot of those questions, but most companies do not have the resources to launch both simultaneously. Concert.TV launched as a VOD channel and then made plans to expand into broadband.

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YouTube Expands Role in Providing Branded Channels, Encouraging User-Generated Episodic Content

YouTube has launched two interesting recent initiatives, one encouraging its continuing process to be seen by media producers as a platform for the cross-distribution of extant media footage, and the other encouraging viewers to submit user-generated content for a contest. The two fronts demonstrate the continuing ways in which the Google-owned video platform is trying to deal with its positioning as both a forum for sharing video and a legitimate business model worthy of the hefty investment the company has made in it.

With National Geographic, YouTube has formed a partnership for short videos that the company has created for its Web site and now will allow for sharing among YouTube users as well. The content is available here.

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May 23, 2007

Transforming Fan Culture into User-Generated Content: The Case of FanLib

You say "User-Generated Content."
We say "Fan Culture."
Let's call the whole thing off!

The differences between the ways corporations and fans understand the value of grassroots creativity has never been clearer than the battle lines which have been drawn this weekend over a new venture called FanLib.

FanLib -- "Where the Stories Continue"

This was originally posted on my blog, but I wanted to cross-post it to our consortium blog as well, since it pertained to previous posts here. For instance, back in August, Sam Ford posted about the FanLib fan fiction contest with HarperCollins, allowing readers and writers to work together to create a romance novel. I first learned about FanLib's latest plans about a week ago, when Convergence Culture Consortium analyst Ivan Askwith reported on their efforts here on the blog: launched as hub for "fan fiction" writers. The idea is to provide a home for creators of one of the first "user generated" genres, fan stories written using popular movie and TV characters and storylines. Members can upload stories, embed promos and build communities around their favorite shows. FanLib, founded by Titanic producer Jon Landau, Jon Moonves and former Yahoo CMO Anil Singh, is also currently sponsoring the Ghost Whisperer Fan Finale Challenge on the site asking fans to write their own conclusion to the show's two-part finale.

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May 20, 2007

Media Industry Jobs in a Convergence Culture

Several of the researchers in C3 have just finished or are in the process of finishing their Master's thesis projects, which means many of us now have the prospect of graduation staring us in the face. Here at C3, we have had the great opportunity to not only work academically as researchers while graduate students but also to interact with the media industry and work with folks at our corporate partners on a variety of initiatives, meaning that a majority of the people coming out of C3 are interested in maintaining a relationship to both academia and the media industry moving forward.

But, as job hunts loom on the horizons and as colleagues start to land jobs elsewhere, we all have to consider what it means, in both the industry and academia, to come away with expertise in issues such as understanding fan communities, transmedia storytelling, new advertising models, and the variety of other focuses that C3 research has taken.

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May 19, 2007

Reframing the Text: Television and New Ways of Viewing

Another interesting post I recently encountered that I thought might be of interest to the C3 readership came through C3 Affiliated Faculty Jason Mittell's blog, focusing on storytelling technologies and the relationship to television in particular.

His post is based on a post from Bordwell and Kristin Thompson's blog. Mittell focuses particularly on a comment Bordwell makes--"We can't easily draw conclusions about how films are constructed on the basis of how they're presented and consumed. Changes in viewing practices don't automatically entail changes in storytelling."

But Mittell points out that, while these presentation and consumption patterns may not lead automatically to different storytelling practices in film (although Bordwell points out that the ability to rewatch film does make it easier to draw on prior films and a deeper knowledge now that the texts can be so easily archived by fans), television is another story.

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Wrestling Fans Can't Benefit from HD?: Cultural Biases and WWE to HD

Considering my continued interesting in pro wrestling and its fan community, and the class I just wrapped up teaching on American pro wrestling here at MIT that WWE had some official involvement with (class blog here), I was interested in Stephanie Robbins' piece in TelevisionWeek back on Thursday regarding WWE's plans to start taping all its weekly shows in high-definition sometime next year.

Robbins writes that investors were told that the company had delayed the switch because of a variety of technical issues but that, now that CW has become increasingly serious about high-definition programming and USA is switching to the format by the end of the year, the WWE has decided to make sure its product stays up-to-date.

What caught my attention, though, was the comments from Bruce Leichtman of Leichtman Research, one of those people who seem to creep into many TVWeek stories on HD. Leichtman was attributed as saying that the programming might not immediately benefit WWE fans and that, while many initial offerings appeal to an upscale audience, the WWE "has more of a downscale appeal." This was not a direct quote to Leicthman, but I'm assuming it isn't too far off the mark.

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May 18, 2007

Second Life Survey

C3 Affiliated Researcher Shenja van der Graaf is currently conducting an academic study on Second Life, focusing on " the innovation-related practices of Second Life members so we can study the composition and structure of the Second Life community and the extent to which members receive resources and support from Linden Lab and other members."

For those interested, she is looking for people interested in taking a survey, available here.

Soap Operas, Target Demographics, and Angry Fans

One fan exclamation in the soap opera industry that has gotten quite a bit of blogosphere attention came from the Web site The Wreck Center, posted by Jase. The piece, entitled "An Open Letter to Carolyn Hinsey and Daytime Television," is in response to a recent column in Soap Opera Digest magazine.

First, for those who follow my research, you know that I'm particularly interested in how soap opera fans communicate to soap opera producers, the reasons behind and ways in which soaps can survive the continued ratings decline that started 20 years ago, and the way in which soaps are hindered by notions of a niche target demographic and how to appeal to that demographic. I've written time and time again about the importance of transgenerational storytelling and empowering audience members outside the target demo to be proselytizers for each soap opera.

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New Ways of Reaching Audiences, Maintaining Identity, and Proselytizing and Evangelism

Since my research on fan proselytizing has made its way onto the blog from time-to-time, and since these issues cropped up just yesterday in the responses from Nancy Baym to my research on wrestling fandom in the arena, I thought it would be good to highlight a couple of things I read recently, or was forwarded, regarding music and viral marketing...or grassroots intermediaries, or else proselytizers, depending on what terminology and specific meaning you want to use.

No matter the terminology, I am fascinated by the process, and particularly by the importance in understanding brands and media texts as inherently social texts. My thesis project on soap opera fandom does just this, situating the soap operas that never end with no off season in relation to a transgenerational fan base for which the relationships built around these shows are key to understanding the consumption. Again, for those interested in that research, feel free to e-mail me at

Lynn Liccardo had sent me a great in-depth piece from Clive Thompson in The New York Times Magazine that I had planned to write about, and then I found that Nancy Baym had already done a great job of pointing to and reacting to some of the points from Thompson's piece. I encourage everyone to check it out.

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AOL/Third Screen, Microsoft/aQuantive, and Nielsen Commercial Ratings

Some interesting news has arisen from various sectors of the media industry this week regarding measurement systems and advertising models, including AOL's purchase of Third Screen Media, the Microsoft purchase of aQuantivem and changes in the commercial ratings system from Nielsen.

As AOL moves forward in expanding its presence as an online video provider, with a variety of channels and content, the company has also looked toward the mobile market for expanding its reach. Via Daisy Whitney at TelevisionWeek, I read that AOL purchased Third Screen Media on Tuesday.

Third Screen Media is a company which acts as the intermediary for placing ads on mobile platforms, working in the space in the middle of content providers, service providers, and advertisers, in a booming mobile market.

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MySpace Strikes Various New Deals for Branded Content

A couple of interesting business deals were signed with MySpace this week, furthering the development of official deals with content providers and brands and the social networking site.

On Wednesday, news was released that MySpace had signed deals with a wide variety of news outlets and lifestyle brands for content channels through the News Corporation site in the coming months.

These include MySpace Video channels for the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic, IGN Entertainment, and a variety of others. The full list is available in this article from Daisy Whitney at TelevisionWeek.

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Web 2.0 and the Maintenance of Identity

To draw on one more interesting perspective in relation to online fandom, and especially to the previous post about Surya Yalamanchili's post on fan types based from his own observations from The Apprentice, I was intrigued by some recent thoughts from C3 Affiliated Faculty Grant McCracken, who writes about the maintenance of online identity.

He writes particularly about transparency in online identity, as well as the ironic cloudiness of a person that results. He writes about the proliferation of public information that people are making willingly available in the current age that, "The issue here should not be restricted to the intellectual's traditional lamentation that old categories are at risk. The issue is to ask what might happen to identity and human nature in the new regime."

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May 17, 2007

Surya Yalamanchili and Categorizing Reality Show Fans

In the last two posts, I evoked my list of fan categories and then Rob Kozinets'. While my categories, based on my research of fan behaviors, sought to describe different modes of engagement that fans entered in relation to a media product, Kozinets looks at online communities in particular and four fan types, depending on their relationship to the community and their relationship with the media property or brand.

Since I wrote in the post about my categories about the idea of vernacular theory, however, I thought it would be intriguing to bring up a recent list of fan types from the Weblog of Surya Yalamanchili, brand manager and reality television star.

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Fan Types: Robert V. Kozinets and Online Communities

In my previous post, I wrote about a list of five categories or modes of fan engagement that I observed when observing and interacting at live pro wrestling events. These categorizations have been helpful to me in understanding fan behaviors in general, particularly in understanding the performative and communal nature of online fan communities. In relation to this, I thought it might be helpful to include as well here on the blog a list of fan types that one of our affiliated faculty has articulated and which has been of use to me in my research of soap opera fandom in particular.

In his 1999 essay "E-Tribalized Marketing?: The Strategic Implications of Virtual Communities of Consumption," which he wrote for the European Management Journal, Robert V. Kozinets provides a categorization that breaks fans up into four types, based on both their relationship to the brand or media property and their relationship to the fan community itself. I wanted to present those four categories here as well, both to provide for comparison to the modes of engagement from my work but also to bring this categorization into current discussion, since I think it still proves very useful, despite any changes in Internet behaviors and accessibility since it was first published in 1999.

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Fan Behaviors: Five Ways of Understanding Modes of Fan Engagement with Media Texts

I am always interested in categorizations of fans, a list breaking down fan "types." I've seen several helpful category lists that help explain and understand fan behaviors. No one list makes perfect sense and explains everything, but this type of research at least provides a framework for understanding and talking about fan behaviors. In some of my recent work, I've been drawing on some of my own previous work on fan communities and categorizations I derived from an ethnography of wrestling fandom.

My own research breaks fan behaviors into five categories, looking at HOW fans engage with a show. This process was based on my observations in the pro wrestling arena, looking at how fans respond and comment on their behavior at live events, but I think this applies particularly well to Internet fandom as well. I wanted to present those categories for C3 readers both for any help it might be but also to see what you might have to challenge them.

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ABC/Sprint Deal Pushing for Mobile Content in Linear Channel/VOD

Earlier this week, news was released about a partnership between Sprint and Disney-ABC for an extensive spread of mobile content for that service provider. In short, Sprint will offer what is being described as three "linear" channels through their mobile service which will feature content from the Disney Channel, ABC, and ABC News. This content will also be available through VOD as well.

The ABC channel will be called ABC Mobile, a newly created mobile brand which will feature content from both ABC News and entertainment, including both short clips from the news and full episodes of some of the top ABC shows.

The Disney channel will feature full-length episodes from some of the top Disney content as well.

The VOD option will allow consumers to see shows the day after they appear on television and all the way back to the four most recent episodes in a particular series. According to Beth Duggan of TelevisionWeek, "The Disney-ABC Television Group content can be accessed throug hteh Sprint Power Vision TV Pack, and Disney Channel content will be available as part of the Power Vision Access Pack. Customers will pay an addition fee per month for both services."

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May 15, 2007

FanLib Provides Another Home For FanFic Writers

Not much time to write at length on this, but I wanted to make sure it made it onto everyone's radar. From last week's Cynopsis: launched as hub for "fan fiction" writers. The idea is to provide a home for creators of one of the first "user generated" genres, fan stories written using popular movie and TV characters and storylines. Members can upload stories, embed promos and build communities around their favorite shows. FanLib, founded by Titanic producer Jon Landau, Jon Moonves and former Yahoo! CMO Anil Singh, is also currently sponsoring the Ghost Whisperer Fan Finale Challenge on the site asking fans to write their own conclusion to the show's two-part finale.

Particularly interesting, since fan fiction seems to be one of the last traditional forms of fan creativity that hasn't been widely coopted and encouraged (within specific, copyright-friendly parameters) by the entertainment industry. I haven't given this as much thought as I should, but my offhand guess would be that fan fiction, unlike mashup videos, tribute songs, and so on, are harder to 'control,' and leave a lot more room for individual fans to take characters, or narratives, in directions that producers and executives aren't comfortable with.

That said, it's not surprising that FanLib exists; what intrigues me is the second part of the announcement, regarding the collaboration with CBS drama The Ghost Whisperer, asking fans to write their own endings to the season finale. The contest just ended, and the results are online... but I can't find any specific rules or directions anymore. Does anyone happen to know what restrictions, if any, the producers put in place when issuing the challenge?

(The prolific Sam Ford has written about other instances of commercially solicited fan fiction here, and probably in several other posts I can't find just now.)

NBC: Putting Engagement Upfront

Just a quick post to highlight a few announcements NBC made during yesterday's upfront presentation to advertisers in NYC. Of particular interest from an audience engagement perspective:

1. Rather than introducing a slate of new shows, NBC is opting for the "more of a good thing" approach. Heroes will get its own six-episode spin-off, Heroes: Origins, with each episode being used to introduce a new character who has not yet appeared on the series. Viewers will get to vote on their favorite, and the character with the most support will then be written into the show as a regular. (Art imitates life: there's an eery resemblance here to Stan Lee's recent reality venture, Who Wants To Be A Superhero? Only in this case, it seems the stakes are a lot higher -- this time, the winner joins the ensemble of one of NBC's biggest hits.)

2. Encouraged by the success of Heroes 360, an expansive transmedia campaign to enable viewer interaction with Heroes (via an "interactive" graphic novel, an ARGesque campaign, and so on), NBC is expanding their 360-approach to television to another of their biggest hits... The Office. There aren't too many details on the specifics yet, but I like what I've heard so far:

In addition to making extra content available on digital platforms, "The Office 360" will allow online users of NBC's Web site to create their own branches of the comedy's fictional Dunder-Mifflin paper company with different challenges to complete. The branches could be integrated into a network episode of the show.

I'll be curious to see how this plays out. I have to admit, I was in the middle of writing yesterday when I got a phone call from Heroes' would-be Senator, Nathan Petrelli, asking me to visit his campaign website... and even though the phone-calls-from-fictional-characters thing will get old soon, it made me smile.

And, while it's not related to NBC, I'll throw in an ABC-related announcement for good measure: starting this summer, ABC has announced, several of their most popular shows will be available for online streaming in full HD resolution (1280x720).

There's always a lot to discuss during the upfronts, so I expect I'll be back several times over the next week with more points of interest. Feel free to post in comments if you catch something interesting, though -- there's a lot to keep up with!

May 13, 2007

Valuing 50+ Audiences: The Myths of Advertising

"If you grab them young, you get their business for life." This is the truism of the ad agency that was recently cited in Lorne Manly's review of the current plight of TV Land. In the process he brings up an issue that I am facing on a regular basis as I research soaps.

I have written many times about how the power of soap operas lie in their transgenerational attraction, yet these shows have become undervalued and, what's worse, mismanaged because of an industry insistence on focusing only on 18-49 females. I've written before about how a cross-generational appeal could revitalize soaps (look here and here), and this is a foundation of the Master's thesis research I've done at MIT over the past two years. By the way, that thesis is now finished, and I am interested in distributing it throughout the fan community. If anyone is interested in a copy, please e-mail me at

The issue TV Land faces is that it draws more people than its fellow MTVN network MTV at night, yet its average viewer is over the age of 50, and the network is purposefully targeting the baby boomers who are now outside the 18-49 bracket that TV focuses on. The network is hoping to turn the industry on its ear because, as a more-than-10-year veteran of cable by now, it is going to focus on selling a demographic that television currently does not cater toward.

Continue reading "Valuing 50+ Audiences: The Myths of Advertising" »

MSNBC Hopes to Attract People to Its Site with News-Based Casual Gaming

MSNBC has launched a brilliant branded casual game on its site, one that is quite simple, fun to play, and ties directly in with their product. Is it gimmicky? Of course it is. But it also works. The game is called "NewsBreaker," and it is part of a new three-pronged approach on the network's behalf to turn its site and its brand into a place people go to in order to learn about the latest news.

The new tag line for the company is A Fuller Spectrum of News, and the attention-getter has been this game. It's the BrickBreaker model that has been the staple of a wide range of casual games over the years. And, just as BrickBreaker captivated the minds of many industry executives over the past few years, MSNBC hopes to do the same with attracting folks to their news site.

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The Era of Hits Is Over

I saw a recent note that echoes the sentiment I have said here many times, and I figure it doesn't hurt to repeat oneself if it is a message the industry doesn't completely get yet.

So, if you feel like I'm sometimes on a broken loop about respecting engagement and qualitative aspects of viewing instead of just impressions...or about the importance of collaborating with a fan community rather that setting a media property or brand in opposition of that community...or about the need for new advertising models and new ways to conceive of and allow for transmedia storytelling...or reversing the extreme niche demographics that deny surplus's another message that bears repeating:


Shows may still be popular, but the modern media environment means that more choice will inevitably equal fewer viewers for a particular show. This doesn't mean these shows are not as good or even that the audience isn't as valuable. In fact, the audience that IS left is probably going to be more engaged by percentage than ever, because there are many fewer casual viewers. The problem is that we have devised a system in which distinguishing between involved and uninvolved modes of viewing has been pointless.

The latest person to deliver this message from some noticeable forum was former MTV executive Herb Scannell, at the PaidContent EconSM social media conference.

Continue reading "The Era of Hits Is Over" »

May 12, 2007

Viral Marketing and the Blogosphere: Perspectives from The Convergence Newsletter

The Convergence Newsletter out of the Newsplex at the University of South Carolina almost always has some interesting food for thought about some aspect of convergence in newsrooms, participatory journalism, or a shifting media landscape. The most current issue, which just came out a few days ago, focuses on a variety of presentations from the 2007 Broadcast Education Association Convention in Las Vegas, which took place in mid-April.

In particular, I was interested in the work of three gentlemen from Florida State University, Steven McClung, Patrick O'Donnell, and Mike Tomaszeski, who were looking at the rise of the blogosphere and the importance of viral marketing and niche target audiences on the Web. They are looking particularly at how blogs promote themselves and various types of content in a sphere of literally millions of online sites, many of which receive very small readership and are aimed for a small circle of friends...or, in some cases, just written so someone can read their own writing. (Sometimes, we all feel that way...)

I haven't read a particular history of the term viral marketing, but my understanding is that viral marketing refers to word-of-mouth campaigns and the spreading of media among users or consumers closely akin to the proselytizing behaviors we so often write about here in the Convergence Culture Consortium.

Continue reading "Viral Marketing and the Blogosphere: Perspectives from The Convergence Newsletter" »

Bones Interactive Murder Mystery

My wife is a regular viewer of Fox's procedural investigation series Bones. For those who are not familiar with the series, the show is inspired by the life of best-selling novelist and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, in the form of Dr. Temperance Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel.

What draws my wife in, I have no doubt, is the presence of favored Joss Whedon actor David Boreanaz, who played the character of Angel on both Buffy and Angel and who plays FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth on Bones.

She told me last week that the show was launching a particularly interesting storyline and running a series of ads that this week's mystery would provide viewers the chance to begin solving the case before the show ever aired. The primary characters involved in this particular case would have their own MySpace pages that would contain some relative information and which would allow viewers the chance to start investigating the case prior to the show's beginning.

More information is available through the site Searching Bones. (There was info up on the show's official site, but it has been moved out of a prominent position now that the episode has passed.)

Continue reading "Bones Interactive Murder Mystery" »

NBC Rejects Easy Money for Short Online Video Content to Create Sustainable Business Model

Yesterday, I wrote about the new deal between ABC and Cox Communications to create new content for the VOD platform with advertising and the lack of ability to fast-forward on the viewer's part. Along with that, NBC-Universal has released new plans for advertising for online video content. In short the plan is to eliminate the practice of running longer advertising before short clips.

According to a story by Daisy Whitney with TelevisionWeek, NBCU has announced plans to air ads in front of video content for online digital video, starting in July. For full-length episodes or long excerpts, 30-second ads may run before the content begins. For short clips, advertising will be no more than 15 seconds. The idea is to try and find new business models to monetize online video without angering consumers to the point that they would rather seek the clips elsewhere...or not watch them at all.

Advertising Age's Abbey Klaassen writes that NBCU's senior VP of digital media sales Peter Naylor said, "We all intuitive know when we accept these 30s, we're aiding and abetting in the delay of the evolution."

Whitney writes, "The decision comes amidst an ongoing debate on pre-roll 15-second and 3--second spots online. Most consumers disdain such ads, especially because they can't skip over them. As a result, media companies have been exploring new forms of online video advertising."

Continue reading "NBC Rejects Easy Money for Short Online Video Content to Create Sustainable Business Model" »

May 11, 2007

Cox and ABC Strike Deal to Bring More Content to VOD, No Fast-Forwarding

According to one of the latest deals struck in the entertainment industry, there is going to be substantial new testing of video-on-demand content for ABC, but that experimentation will disable some of the features that viewers love most.

I was reading through Beth Duggan's recent TelevisionWeek article about the deal between what Variety calls "the Alphabet" and Cox Communications, in which ABC will be testing a variety of content through VOD.

However, in return, Cox will be "disabling the VOD fast-forward option for on demand content and syndicating ABC's broadband player to"

The plan seems to be to marry advanced advertising techniques with the VOD platform, which may go a long way in explaining why the fast-forward option would not be enabled through VOD, although this could be problematic for viewers who had previously been given many chances to fast forward through content they were not interested in.

This would be the first time that a network-specific broadband video player would be syndicated for use by a cable operator. According to Duggan's story, the deal will provide " users in Orange County with the ability to watch ad-supported, full episodes of ABC's prime-time series online the day after they air on the network."

Continue reading "Cox and ABC Strike Deal to Bring More Content to VOD, No Fast-Forwarding" »

WWE Looks for Its Biggest Fan with Comcast Ziddio

I read a couple of days ago from Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer site that World Wrestling Entertainment is going to be pairing up with Comcast Ziddio to identify the greatest WWE fan in a contest that will lead to a $25,000 first prize.

The contest will open on May 18 and run until the end of July, and Ziddio will be accepting videos of up to 60 seconds for fans to explain why they are the biggest WWE fans. The list will be narrowed down to 10, with those 10 winners being flown in for the WWE Summerslam pay-per-view event and will be judged by a panel of wrestlers.

The contest could provide some interesting footage from WWE with all this footage of people demonstrating and explaining their lovemarks for the company and its wrestling product, and it will be interesting to see if they use some of this footage prominently on their Web site or in their TV shows as the contest progresses.

Ziddio fans will get to vote for who wins, and the top 15 videos will be featured on WWE 24/7 On Demand, according to the press release. I wrote about WWE 24/7 back in August.

Continue reading "WWE Looks for Its Biggest Fan with Comcast Ziddio" »

History Channel's Band of Bloggers

Last week, I wrote about the political lobbying group MoveOn and their VideoVets project protesting the Iraq war. I recently came across another war-related transmedia initiative as well that I hadn't mentioned, through the History Channel.

The initiative is called Band of Bloggers, through the History Channel. The network will feature a variety of user-generated content from soldiers in Iraq, and the content will be distributed through The History Channel's Web site. The plan is to feature both text and video content from these soldiers and package it on the Web, with a television special expected to launch later in the year to help drive interest in the launch of the online project.

Jon Lafayette with TelevisionWeek comments that the channel "is using new media to tell the story of a new war," as opposed to the black and white documentaries the channel would run for historical military conflicts.

Continue reading "History Channel's Band of Bloggers" »

Nielsen Looking to Create Accurate Way to Measure Online Video Consumption

News broke earlier this week that Nielsen was moving forward with the next step into online measurement, this time with an online video measurement service. The measurement system will be called VideoCensus, focusing on the viewing of online video.

The press release calls it "the first-ever syndicated online video measurement service to combine panel and census research methodologies and provide an end-to-end account of audience size, demographic composition, engagement and competitive activity."

The plan is to combine the desktop meter Nielsen already has with SiteCensus content-tagging technology, provides a chance to obtain "granular insight into viewer engagement with specific video channels, programs, and clips." They promote that their measurement is platform-objective.

A lot of big words, and some of them are buzzwords even, but what does it mean? It's hard to know yet because, as MediaWeek's Katy Bachman points out in a story about the release that helps summarize the press release (no new information is presented), data won't be made publicly available until as late as October. The first report was issued to clients back in January, according to Nielsen.

Continue reading "Nielsen Looking to Create Accurate Way to Measure Online Video Consumption" »

May 7, 2007

Immersive Story Worlds (Part Two)

The first part of this excerpt from my thesis work was presented on the C3 blog earlier today, available here. That portion focused on my own history with immersive story worlds, defining the term, and looking at seriality as one aspect of an immersive story world.

Multiple Creators

All three examples of immersive story worlds provided here are too large for any one creator to accomplish. Each of these worlds have passed through many creative hands over the years, with no one creator necessarily being THE defining vision of what this world means. In each case, there is a sense of the narrative world having a life of its own and being bigger than any particular creative regime. The fact that all three of these narrative worlds have stood the test of time is evidenced in the way they have weathered passing off from one creative hand to the other. Although Stan Lee is often credited with being a defining force in the initial creation of the modern Marvel Universe, along with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby and others, many writers, artists, and editors have helped shape the trajectory of these characters through the following decades. Not only have various creative regimes had control of an individual series over the years, there are creative teams working on each title within the Marvel Universe at any one time, meaning that--although Marvel as a content producer has centralized control over the official narrative universe of its characters, there is still a decentralized process of creating the Marvel Universe and fleshing out all its corners, developed through the many creative forces who have passed through the company over what is now almost 50 years.

Soap operas may have a defining creator, such as Irna Phillips and Bill Bell and Agnes Nixon, and the creative vision of each of these people have often helped define the long-term feel for many of these shows. However, the number of writers that work on a show at any one time, from the creative influence of the executive producer to the overall stories of the head writer(s) to the way that is broken down into scenes and dialogue, demonstrates the hundreds of creators who have had an influence on soaps stories through the years. Consider how much impact the thousands of actors who have appeared on these shows have had as well, in addition to directors and other creative forces, and there is certainly no clear "author" of any of these soap opera texts. Even if fans have particular writing teams that they have preferred over others or certain periods of a show that they consider "golden eras," there is no single writer that can be seen as the single defining source of a show, especially once it has been on the air for decades.

As for pro wrestling, the fact that wrestling narratives often spilled over from territory to territory and that wrestlers who retain the copyright to their own characters would jump from one show to the other ensures that, in addition to the constant shifting of creative forces within the bookers of any particular wrestling organization, there was also a meta text that fans would follow which branched across every wrestling show in the country. In the regional days of wrestling, fans would follow characters as they moved across the country, being written by a variety of creative forces along the way. Now that the WWE is the major show left in wrestling, there are three WWE divisions, each with their own head writer; and there are still alternative wrestling promotions that often take characters who leave the WWE, like TNA wrestling on Spike TV. In addition, the wrestlers themselves are traditionally known for developing many of their own attributes, and the performance of the audience affects every show as well (and audiences often stray from the intent of the people who scripted the reactions they are "supposed" to have on live shows). It's hard to identify who "creates" the final product of any particular wrestling show, much less the ongoing narratives of the various characters.

Continue reading "Immersive Story Worlds (Part Two)" »

Immersive Story Worlds (Part One)

As regular readers of this blog might know, I have been in the process of completing my thesis here at MIT. Henry Jenkins recently included some excerpts from my work on his blog, so I wanted to include that same work here as well, since the concept of immersive story worlds has cropped up in my work here on the C3 blog from time-to-time. The concept is an important one, I believe, to understanding the power of mining archives, of transmedia storytelling, and a variety of other factors we discuss here at C3 on a regular basis.

This will the the first of two posts that fleshes this idea out further here on the blog--

My History with Immersive Story Worlds

Growing up an only child with a stay-at-home mom, I spent my childhood days engrossed in what I have come to call immersive story worlds. In truth, I began my relationship with popular culture with no more than an antenna connection and a collection of toys. For me, it was G.I. Joe. I have never fancied being a military man and really do not remember too many playground days spent pretending to be a soldier, but the world of G.I. Joe fascinated me nonetheless. The dozens of characters I found for $2.97 apiece at Wal-Mart drove my interest in the alternate military reality these characters inhabited. Every toy included a biography of that character on the back, which I clipped and kept--in alphabetical order no less. I ended up with a group of friends who also collected and kept up with the world of G.I. Joe.

My love for G.I. Joe soon spilled over into the Marvel G.I. Joe comic books, where these characters came to life. I read those comics until the covers fell off, hoping to learn everything I could about each character and apply that knowledge to the games I played as well. I soon became engaged with the whole Marvel comic book universe, and I spent most of my $10 weekly allowance following the weekly or monthly adventures of Spider-Man, the X-Men, Hulk, and a slew of other colorful characters. Yet again, I found contemporaries at school who shared my interest in comic books. They wanted to be comic book artists, and I wanted to be a comics writer, so we set about to create a comic book universe of our own.

At the same time, I was becoming familiar with another immersive story world, that of the superstars of the World Wrestling Federation, now known as WWE. My cousins had long told me the legends of Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior, but I didn't know where to tune in to glimpse into this universe from a syndication window. However, my parents' decision to get a VCR opened me up to a slew of videotapes my cousins mailed to me and the growing collection of wrestling shows available at the local rental shops and convenience stores. Finally, I even convinced my neighbors to let me come over and start watching the Monday night wrestling shows since they had cable television. The Marvel superhero universe and the World Wrestling Federation were my media fascinations, and they both fit into this category I now write about as immersive story worlds, a concept I will flesh out in the next couple of posts.

Continue reading "Immersive Story Worlds (Part One)" »

Lost Reveals Another Important Number: 119

Well, I guess this depends on how you do your math, but if you count each hour-long installment of Lost as an episode, 119 will be the final episode of Lost when it goes off the air in May 2010, after six seasons.

To the best of my knowledge, the decision to end a show three years in advance, regardless of its ratings, is unprecedented in network history. Sci-fi saga Babylon 5 was theoretically structured for a 5-year narrative arc, a plan which went to hell near the end of the fourth season when the remaining plot points were wrapped up in anticipation of the show's cancellation... leaving the show in need of a new plot when it returned for a fifth season after all. Of course, ABC's announcement doesn't indicate what would happen if the show were to tank, ratings-wise, before the anticipated end-date -- but since Lost, even at its worst moments, has never dropped far below the Top 25 shows on television, it seems like a reasonable bet that the show will make it until the end of its run.

As one friend pointed out to me this morning, Lost will not be the first show to leave television while it still has a strong audience; when Seinfeld wrapped up, the series was doing well enough to have guaranteed it at least another season. The difference, of course, is that as one of the pioneers in television's current wave of complex serialized drams, Lost is attempting a structural feat that is almost impossible under the normal confines of network television.

(The prolific Sam Ford has discussed the challenges and difficulties that serial narratives face on network television in several past entries: see here, here, and here for a more detailed discussion of the topic. )

Lost's co-EPs, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, announced several months ago that they had approached ABC about setting an end-date for the show, an unorthodox request that would allow them to plan a specific timeline for addressing the various mysteries and puzzles that lie at the heart of the show. In particular, a firm end-date would allow Lost to address the rising concern among viewers -- common to all heavily serialized mysteries -- that the show was "making things up" as it went along, and posing questions for which it had no answers.

According to this morning's Variety, however, this was not a casual request: in their recent contract negotiations, Lindelof and Cuse demanded an end date as one of their unnegotiable terms.

It will be interesting to see whether this decision results in a noticeable upturn in the show's ratings, as exasperated viewers return to the fold, or a further decline, as more fans opt to wait until the show's 2010 conclusion to decide whether to invest another 48 hours of their time on DVD.

May 6, 2007

Multiple New Advertising Models, Measurement Techniques Announced for Upfronts

According to recent news, coming out of the late-April Ad:Tech conference that took place in San Francisco, NBC is interested in creating a new measurement that it is calling "total audience measurement, or "TAM." I first read about it in Daisy Whitney's TelevisionWeek article, where she summarizes that "TAM measures the aggregate viewing of a show across live, same-day and online viewing."

She includes a variety of other plans in her article as well, including Visible World's technology that allows customized advertising based on the time and date of a program's airing and YuMe Networks' deal to sell ads across mobile TV content.

I wrote earlier today about the recent press regarding the gains shows get from counting DVR viewership, according to Nielsen's numbers.

Continue reading "Multiple New Advertising Models, Measurement Techniques Announced for Upfronts" »

House, Lost, Office Among Top Gainers from DVR Viewers

Another news bit in relation to television viewing measurement that I haven't written about yet was news from the Nielsen Company which released a list of the most timeshifted broadcast network television shows, as of the week of 02 April through 08 April 2007.

The chart revealed that House saw the greatest total gain in viewer numbers, with 2.74 million viewers watching on DVR within seven days of the show's broadcast airing, a 14.4 percent gain in the show's rating. Meanwhile, Lost had the second highest gain, with 2.474 million viewers watching through DVR. Other shows in the top 10 were American Idol, CSI, 24, Survivor, The Office, Desperate Housewives, and Prison Break. The Office had the biggest growth on the basis of percentage of viewers.

Other shows that had high gains in percentages were 30 Rock, Scrubs, Friday Night Lights, and 7th Heaven.

Continue reading "House, Lost, Office Among Top Gainers from DVR Viewers" »

Keeping Transmedia Services Bound in the Gates of Exclusivity

Gated content is one thing. But I've been giving some extra thought to what amounts to gated services recently, based on my revisiting a deal struck in March 2006 in which TiVo would be partnering with Verizon so that TiVo subscribers would be able to schedule their programming through their cell phone with the service provider starting last summer.

David Zatz provides the press release on his site, which touts that TiVo Mobile will be "a new downloadable application that lets TiVo service subscribers schedule recordings on their TiVo device directly from their Get It Now equipped Verizon Wireless handset."

Zatz voiced many people's complaints when he said, "This probably isn't a service I'd utilize (especially since I'm with Sprint)." I see what Verizon got out of the deal, but it seems that exclusivity limits a significant number of people from being able to use this feature, and since mobile scheduling of content could be quite a benefit for some users, it may serve to anger viewers locked into a contract with another service provider who then can't take advantage of this service.

Continue reading "Keeping Transmedia Services Bound in the Gates of Exclusivity" »

Unity08, Independent Two New Examples of Getting People Involved in Politics Online

The Web is a tremendous place to launch active political initiatives, as we have covered several times in the past few months. But a Variety article from a couple of weeks back caught my eye with news of two particularly intriguing online initiatives, both centered on the 2008 presidential election.

According to Michael Schneider's article, a group called Unity08 plans to launch an independent campaign aimed at creating a bipartisan ticket for the 2008 presidential election. The candidates will be chosen through an online convention, set to be held in June 2008, to pick candidates to run in the November general election against various party candidates.

The plan is to create a bipartisan ticket with Democrat and Republican candidates including Republican Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to the story, "Any registered voter can participate in the selection process as an online 'delegate.'"

The story as a whole focused on another political initiative, though--the planned Independent media property that will start through MySpace and launch into a television show, working with Mark Burnett Productions.

Continue reading "Unity08, Independent Two New Examples of Getting People Involved in Politics Online" »

Joost Launches with Significant New Content Coming, Amid Crowded Online Video Market

On the first day of May, Joost officially announced the launch of its online video service. According to its initial press, the company will be running advertising from a total of 32 companies in its first month. TelevisionWeek highlights among its initial sponsors Nike, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and Coca-Cola.

The online video service made the news a while back through its deal with Viacom, which was announced back in February. Viacom announced that television shows and music videos from Viacom properties would be distributed through Joost online, including "Paramount movies and various MTV Networks properties, including MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Nickelodeon, CMT, MTV2, Spike TV, Logo, mtvU, and"

At the time, I wrote, "If looking at this deal solely as further distribution, it can only be seen as a positive. The more ways that Viacom can make its content available in as many was as possible gives more chances for viewers to connect with Viacom material, which can only be a positive. Ubiquity of availability seems to be the new key for reaching the consumer."

Continue reading "Joost Launches with Significant New Content Coming, Amid Crowded Online Video Market" »

May 5, 2007

NBCU/News Corp. Video Venture Moving Forward with Ad Model, Name

Earlier today, I wrote about recent news that YouTube would be providing some independent video creators with advertising revenue for the most popular videos on their site.

In the meantime, the service that was at one time being touted as the "YouTube killer" is developing their busines plan farther. News Corporation and NBC-Universal is partnering on the online video distribution site, which plans to launch over the summer. The company is in the process of securing advertisers for the video service.

They spoke at the PaidContent conference in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, emphasizing that the company will be figuring out exactly which advertising model would be most appropriate for the service. Daisy Whitney with TelevisionWeek writes, "Advertising options under discussion are the length of commercials, the number of commercials per pod and the number of 'chapters' each show's episode will be split into."

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YouTube Makes Plans to Reward Select Independent Content Creators

YouTube isn't just coming up with content distribution deals for corporate copyright holders these days. The Web site is also moving forward with plans that will compensate some of the most popular creators on the site with some of the advertising revenue that their videos generate.

According to the company's site, some of the most popular YouTube creators will be selected to receive revenue deals, in somewhat the same vein of Revver's program for independent producers. Ads will be placed next to the videos, and the independent creators will receive revenue based on the number of views their videos receive.

Interestingly, though, YouTube is not opening up this content program for anyone. Instead, there remains a somewhat arbitrary line which independent video creators must cross in order to qualify for this new deal. The company has made it clear that an independent creator must not only develop an audience but sustain that audience for a period of time before they will become eligible for this new business model.

Continue reading "YouTube Makes Plans to Reward Select Independent Content Creators" »

MoveOn's VideoVets Project Puts Faces with a Cause, in Multiple Media Forms

An interesting digital video initiative has arisen in the past few days from that extremely active political group Move On, the political group whose rallying against the war in Iraq has led to an interesting online video project called VideoVets.

The structure of the project is that a variety of military families and veterans are interviewed regarding their views against the war in Iraq, emphasizing that there are plenty of dissenters among these people as well. The variety of interviews are then going to be put together into a television commercial that MoveOn will push put together by the infamous Oliver Stone.

The site says, "The administration tries to call anyone who criticizes their policy in Iraq 'anti-troop,' but the interviews below show that 'supporting the troops' does NOT mean supporting an endless war. The voices of these veterans and military families are missing from the debate in Washington. Together we can make sure they become a vital part of the national dialogue around ending the war."

This type of political mobilization makes sense on several fronts. Showing the images of these veterans and their families emphasizes the point MoveOn is trying to make far more than any text-only quotes could. Further, the process of a plethora of interviews with these critics of the war can be edited down to the most emotionally and logically compelling moments with a renowned director attached to the final product.

Continue reading "MoveOn's VideoVets Project Puts Faces with a Cause, in Multiple Media Forms" »

May 1, 2007

FCC Continues the Crusade Against Violent TV Programming

One of the biggest news items for the television industry in the past week was the release of the Federal Communications Commission's report on television violence. The report, which has been in the plans for quite a while, links to a variety of respected resources which attempt to draw a link from television violence and aggressive behaviors in children.

The idea is that violent content should be restricted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., which I am assuming is EST. Amazing, the cognitive abilities of children to handle violence changes from time zone to time zone.

The biggest problem (and, by that, I mean far from the only problem) is highlighted in a sentence from Ira Teinowitz's report on the issue: "The report, which could be released as soon as Thursday, doesn't take a position on how to define 'excessive' violence, instead leaving that difficult job to Congress."

This, of course, comes on the heels of the Virginia Tech shootings, in which many pundits were hoping beyond hope to find a way to link the killings to media violence, whether it be video games or the chance to pin it on "Friday night wrestling."

Continue reading "FCC Continues the Crusade Against Violent TV Programming" »

Media in Transition 5: Part IV of IV--Final Links

This post contains the final links to the collective intelligence which critiqued, discussed, and collaborated to give multiple perspectives on the Media in Transition 5 conference as it occurred here in Cambridge and through Second Life. If anyone has any resources that covered the conference not mentioned here, please post them in the comments section.

Continue reading "Media in Transition 5: Part IV of IV--Final Links" »

Media in Transition 5: Part III of IV--More Links

More links from blogs covering the Media in Transition 5 conference are inside, with a variety of single perspectives on the conference as a whole or particular panels. As mentioned in the first post, MiT5 was a conference from our department here at MIT this past weekend and which contained a lot of work relevant to the Convergence Culture Consortium's research initiatives.

Continue reading "Media in Transition 5: Part III of IV--More Links" »

Media in Transition 5: Part II of IV--Links Regarding the Sessions

Inside are links to a variety of bloggers who wrote about their own panels and the panels they listened to at the C3 conference throughout the weekend. I know that Technorati has linked to some of these through the MiT5 tag, but I thought it might be good to have a collection of all the reports from the conference. The next two posts will contain links to some of the other posts about the conference, including posts about its streaming in Second Life.

(Oh, and by the way, it might be interesting to note that, over the weekend, "MiT5" was one of the most-searched words on Technorati, according to this post and this one. Ethan at Where's My Applesauce writes that MiT5 was "some sort of conference in which a bunch of people get together to discuss crap that only sociologists and lawyers care about." If only more sociologists and lawyers cared about MiT5...

Continue reading "Media in Transition 5: Part II of IV--Links Regarding the Sessions" »

Media in Transition 5: Part I of IV--An Overview

I spent most of the weekend meeting a lot of great minds and hearing some great cutting-edge work as part of the Media in Transition 5 conference here at MIT. Many of you who read regularly here at the Convergence Culture Consortium are probably familiar with the biannual conference we have here at MIT, an international sponsored by the university, the Comparative Media Studies Program, and the MIT Communications Forum.

This year's conference was called "Creativity, Ownership and Collaboration in the Digital Age." The main plenary sessions are available in podcast through the CMS Web site. The Web site also features recent talks by Sharon Mazer on live performance, Michael Cuthbert on minimalist music, WWE's Mick Foley on how "the real world is faker than wrestling," and a panel on evangelicals in the media featuring academics and representatives from Focus on the Family and Rick Warren of the Purpose Driven Life campaign.

Over the next few posts, I want to point out some of the interesting work that was presented here at the conference by linking to the many blogs that covered the event.

Continue reading "Media in Transition 5: Part I of IV--An Overview" »

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