November 30, 2007

Gender and Fan Culture: Wrapping Up (2 of 4)

I ran this series over the past couple of weeks over on my blog, as a look back at the Gender and Fan Culture series I hosted there for the past several months. Since comments have been disabled off-and-on here of late in preparation to switch servers, please e-mail me or Sam Ford your thoughts.

Bob Rehak:

I enjoyed reading and taking part in the summer's conversations, in part because I don't consider myself an aca-fan so much as -- if you'll forgive the neo-neologism -- a fan-aca: that is, while fandom definitely informs my research and teaching (it's what led me to graduate school in the first place), my projects tend not to center on fandom "as such." So while I engaged with the dialogues most immediately for moments of fellow-fan-recognition ("Hey, she likes Battlestar Galactica too!"), I spent more time reflecting on the strange phenomenon of acafandom: this group of exceptionally smart and articulate people positioning ourselves -- with varying degrees of forthrightness, self-critique, pride, and disavowal -- around not just the texts and objects that we love/hate, but the potent essence of love/hate itself. In short, it was interesting to watch ourselves wrestling with our own jouissance, a collective (if variegated) upwelling passion that functioned both to disrupt and drive our interactions.

Continue reading "Gender and Fan Culture: Wrapping Up (2 of 4)" »

Gender and Fan Culture: Wrapping Up (1 of 4)

I ran this series over the past couple of weeks over on my blog, as a look back at the Gender and Fan Culture series I ran on my blog throughout the past several months. I know that the C3 blog has kept continued updates of this series for me and has ran a few of the rounds which included C3 team members, alum, and consulting researchers in the past, so I wanted to cross-post the four parts of the wrap-up comments from this series here as well.

We have been in the process of preparing to switch over to a new server, to deal with spam comments and server traffic, so comments may not be activated at certain points over the next few days. Please feel free to e-mail me or Sam Ford with any thoughts you have on the series.

Last May, I announced my plan to host an ongoing conversation between male and female scholars around the topic of gender and fan culture. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I made that announcement. I felt like the moment was right to celebrate a generation of younger scholars -- male and female -- who were doing groundbreaking work in the areas of fan studies and cult media. I was hoping that the series would give me a chance to get to know these researchers and their work better. While I had read some of the recent scholarship, it had been hard to sort out the emerging players on the basis of one or two essays. I knew, however, that the field was now more methodologically and theoretically diverse than any one had yet acknowledged and I also knew that many of these people, working in different disciplines and operating with different social networks, did not know each other.

I had been distressed by suggestions that there was a growing disconnect between the work male and female scholars were doing in this space and concerned that the roots of fan studies in feminist scholarship and female cultural practice might get lost. I was interested in the ways that the entertainment industry was embracing new models of audience participation but often with unequal and differential treatment of forms of participation that were historically coded as masculine or feminine (an issue I raised in Convergence Culture in relation to the Star Wars fan cinema competitions.) I felt then that the best way to break down some of the walls was to pair up male and female scholars, who shared similar interests but who might not have known each other, for the purpose of a public conversation. My hope had been that if we chose a sufficiently diverse set of scholars, we would complicate existing assumptions about how gender impacted fan culture, suggesting some overlap as well as some differences in cultural preferences, interpretive practices, cultural activities, and social communities.

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November 18, 2007

FoE2: Cult Media

Danny Bilson,
Transmedia Creator

Jeff Gomez,
Starlight Runner

Jesse Alexander,

Gordon Tichell,
Walden Media

Panel moderated by Henry Jenkins, MIT

The live-blogging effort comes from current CMS Graduate Students Kevin Driscoll, Joshua Diaz, and Debora Lui.

Continue reading "FoE2: Cult Media" »

November 17, 2007

FoE2: Advertising and Convergence Culture

The second panel of the day was on Advertising and Convergence Culture. Speakers included Mike Rubenstein of the Barbarian Group, Baba Shetty of Hill/Holliday, Tina Wells of Buzz Marketing Group, Faris Yakob from Naked Communications, and Bill Fox of Fidelity Investments.

The panelists talked about the challenges and successes that they have encountered as marketers and advertisers in a convergent media environment, the problem of relinquishing total control over brands, user generated content and social media.

Live blogging for this session are Kevin Driscoll, Xiaochang Li, and Eleanor Baird.

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FoE2: Opening Comments for Day Two

Day two of the Futures of Entertainment began this chilly Cambridge morning with opening remarks by Jason Mittell, Middlebury College; Jonathan Gray, Fordham University; Lee Harrington, Miami University. Sam Ford, C3's Project Manager moderated.

In this session, the panelists talked about the "holy trinity" of media studies scholarship, tensions between industry and academia, qualitative versus quantitative understandings of audiences, and improving the connections between academics and insdustry in the future.

Live blogging the session were Xiaochang Li, Josh Diaz and Eleanor Baird.

Continue reading "FoE2: Opening Comments for Day Two" »

November 16, 2007

FoE2: Fan Labor

Fan Labor was the topic for the third and final panel of the first day of FoE2.

The speakers were Mark Deuze, Jordan Greenhall, Catherine Tosenberger, Elizabeth Osder, Raph Koster.

Taking over live blogging duties were Lauren Silberman, Lan Le, and Lana Swartz.

Continue reading "FoE2: Fan Labor" »

FoE2: Metrics & Measurement

The second panel at FOE2 is focused on metrics and audience measurement.
Sam Ford is moderating, and participating in the panel are:

  • Bruce Leichtman (Leichtman Research Group)
  • Stacey Lynn Schulman(Turner Broadcasting)
  • Maury Giles (GSD&M Idea City)
  • Jim Nail (TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony)

As with the last panel, two hours of typing notes is tasking enough by itself -- so these entries might be a little bit disjointed, and have more typos than our usual posts. Sorry about that.

And: taking over live-blogging duties for this panel are CMS graduate students Lana Swartz and Deb Lui.

Continue reading "FoE2: Metrics & Measurement" »

FoE2: Mobile Media

The first panel at FoE2 is focused on mobile media.

Participating in the panel are:

  • Marc Davis (Yahoo)
  • Bob Schukai (Turner Broadcasting)
  • Alice Kim (MTV Networks)
  • Anmol Madan: Madan (MIT Media Lab)

And, joining the live-blogging effort are current C3 researchers Xiaochang Li and Lauren Silberman.

Continue reading "FoE2: Mobile Media" »

FoE2: Opening Remarks

The opening remarks at this year's FUTURES OF ENTERTAINMENT conference are being made by Henry Jenkins, director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies, and Joshua Green, research manager for C3.

Participate in the backchannel in real-time at

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Liveblogging from the Future (of Entertainment)

Strange to be writing in the C3 blog again, now that I'm no longer a researcher-in-residence, but the Futures of Entertainment conference -- now in its second year -- is beginning to serve a secondary function as a sort of C3 homecoming. And, since most of the C3 team are working in overdrive just to keep the conference moving at an even keel, I'll be helping out with the live-blogging duties, in case any of you at home want to keep up with what's happening here.

Helping out in this task are Derek Johnson, a doctoral student and kindred soul from U. Wisconsin-Madison, and Lan Le, a first year grad student in CMS -- both of whom, at the moment, are too busy taking notes to introduce themselves.

So, keep checking back. We'll try to refresh and update the posts several times during each panel, in case those of you following along here want to pass along questions or comments as part of the proceedings. (Think of it as a transmedia conference.)

Up next: opening remarks from Henry Jenkins, director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies, and Joshua Green, research manager for C3.

Madan and Nail Join FoE2 Line-Up

Today is the launch of Futures of Entertainment 2. It's the wee hours of the morning now, and we're trying to get everything prepared for what we hope is a stimulating conference for academics and industry execs alike. We have a variety of folks coming in from around the country, and internationally, and from what looks to be about an even split of academic and industry registrants. We're hoping that it will lead to some stimulating conversation, on par with the energy developed around last year's event.

One thing I wanted to note before the conference begins is that we have had a couple of late additions to the program. Francesco Cara from Nokia will no longer be able to make it here for the mobile media panel this morning, so we will be joined by Anmol Madan of the Media Lab here at MIT.

Also, Jim Nail from Cymfony has been added to the list of speakers for the metrics and measurement panel this afternoon.

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November 15, 2007

A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (2 of 2)

This is the second part of my recap of the MIT Communications Forum event with Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw from Heroes earlier this evening. For some other interesting takes on this, see this piece on TheoLib, and C3 Consulting Researcher Jason Mittell's piece.

Adapting to the Audience

Both Jesse and Mark spoke about the realities that exist with their Internet enabled audience and how they are trying to adapt to the realities that exist with how their audience views the show. They understand that experiencing shows at one's own pace is a much more enjoyable experience then live may be. Week-to-week, there is a lot to remember, and the online space is a great way to add narrative and help fill in the blanks. Having to remember specific narratives from specific episodes is difficult because it means viewers have to be keeping close track. From a creative side, they are trying to help people catch up and keep viewers who have been watching live be engaged week to week.

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A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (1 of 2)

First, here is the official information on the event:

The 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 spokesmen 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 gamers, fans of comics, lovers of message boards or threaded discussions, digital surfers of all sorts? In this forum, producers from the NBC series Heroes discussed 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 that producers place on the most active segments of their audiences.

Continue reading "A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (1 of 2)" »

Around the Consortium: FoE2, Free Game Types, and Gender and Fan Studies

We are on the eve of our second Futures of Entertainment event here at MIT, co-sponsored by the Consortium and Comparative Media Studies, the program in which we are housed in. We're going to be doing a lot of blogging from the scene, and the blog will become dedicated to featuring that content over the next few days, so I thought it might be good to do a round-up of some interesting posts by people around the Consortium in the meantime.

First, Grant McCracken made an interesting post from earlier this evening on the train ride into MIT for the event. Grant, who is a consulting researcher for our group, shares some musing that might get us thinking about some "comparative media" issues from a genre standpoint:

Fr the moment, some things still travel in packs. The Diderot effect still applies. Some categorical distinctions are still relatively inviolate. Our intuition tells us so.

This is one of the challenges that will confront us at the The Futures of Entertainment Conference.

Continue reading "Around the Consortium: FoE2, Free Game Types, and Gender and Fan Studies" »

November 13, 2007

The Launch of NBC Direct

Over the weekend, NBC launched the beta version of NBC Direct, the site offering full-length downloads of popular NBC shows that they announced back in mid-September.

This release appropriately coincides with reports of a study conducted at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania about television viewing habits online.

The study, which tracked a dramatic increase in television viewing done online over the past two seasons, showed that television content was being watched more despite the decrease in actual television viewing. Moreover, authorized web viewing in the past two years surpassed the increase in unauthorized viewing.

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WWE Grapples with CNN Documentary: Smacking Down the News

Journalism is fundamentally altered in an age of convergence culture. This isn't particularly new news for my colleagues over at the Center for Future Civic Media here at MIT in the Program in Comparative Media Studies. Nor is it new news for many of the people I spent time with back at Western Kentucky University when I was a journalism student in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

It's not even new news for the folks in the trenches of rural weekly journalism, described as the cockroaches of the journalism world by my editor at The Ohio County Times-News.

But I was reminded how talking back to the official journalists is possible in new ways in a new media environment, as was evidenced by a recent controversy between the WWE and CNN.

Continue reading "WWE Grapples with CNN Documentary: Smacking Down the News" »

November 12, 2007

Looking back at FoE: Not the Real World Anymore

The final panel at last year's Futures of Entertainment 2, like the mobile media panel this year, focused on a particular media outlet, in this case virtual worlds. The discussion included John Lester from Linden Labs, Ron Meiners from, and Todd Cunningham from MTV Networks, who we work with closely, as well as Eric Gruber from MTVN.

Todd will be able to join us again this year as a conference attendee, and we're glad to have Alice Kim from MTVN on our panel discussing mobile media.

The panel, called "Not the Real World Anymore," is available in audio here and in video here.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Not the Real World Anymore" »

Looking back at FoE: Fan Cultures

Last year's panel on fan cultures was one of the greatest precursors to the direction this year's conference has taken. Our discussions on fan labor, cult media, and even the audience measurement panel will deal with issues that were first raised in last year's fan cultures panel, which we live-blogged here.

The audio from last year's panel is available here, and the video is available here.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Fan Cultures" »

Looking back at FoE: Dr. Joshua Green on Viscerality

The second day of Futures of Entertainment last year began with a discussion led by Dr. Joshua Green, C3's Research Manager. Green will be helping to lead the opening comments of the conference with Dr. Henry Jenkins on Friday morning and will be moderating two of the panels at the conference.

Last year's presentation from Green focused on viscerality in a convergence culture. The audio of the presentation is available here, and the video is available here.

Green, whose bio is available here, has helped direct several exciting new strands of research at the Consortium this year, and the panels planned for the conference this year are indicators of the types of issues we've been tackling in our internal work that Joshua directs and what I've written here on the blog, along with our graduate students.

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Looking back at FoE: Transmedia Properties

The final panel on Friday of last year's Futures of Entertainment focused on transmedia properties, in what is a precursor to a couple of the discussions taking place this year, perhaps most notably the conversation on cult media properties, which might be particularly ripe for transmedia storytelling.

The audio from this panel is available here, and the video is available here.

For those who haven't seen it, our panel on cult media this year will feature a variety of people steeped in knowledge of transmedia storytelling: Danny Bilson, who has written for a variety of media platforms; Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner; Gordon Tichell with Walden Media; and Jesse Alexander with Heroes.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Transmedia Properties" »

Looking back at FoE: User-Generated Content

The second panel on the first day of Futures of Entertainment last year was focused particularly on user-generated content. The panel provides a good precursor to a lot of the issues to be discussed this year in the "fan labor" panel.

For those who have not seen it, the description of our "Fan Labor" panel this year reads, "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 full description is available on the program, here.

Last year's "User-Generated Content" panel was live blogged here on the C3 site, available here. The conversation included Rob Tercek, who is president and co-founder of MultiMedia Networks; Caterina Fake, Tech Development at Yahoo!/Flickr; Bubble Project founder Ji Lee; and BioWare Director of Design Kevin Barrett.

Audio is available here, and video is available here.

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Looking back at FoE: Television Futures

The first panel at last year's Futures of Entertainment focused on "Television Futures," featuring a variety of interesting speakers who discussed where the television industry was headed from a variety of perspectives. While there is no video available from the panel, audio can be found here.

The panel was live-blogged on the C3 blog here. We wrote about their discussion on issues such as "What Has Caused This Period of Increased Experimentation?," "The Shifting Relationship of Television in the Media Industry," "Television in a VOD and Netflix World," and "Bypassing the Networks."

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Looking back at FoE: Henry Jenkins' Opening Comments

Now that the week of Futures of Entertainment 2 is upon us, much of our mindspace and time are being dedicated to planning for the conference. In light of that, we thought it might be good to look back at each of last year's events, since this year's panels look to build off the conversations we started at the initial Futures of Entertainment last November. Over the next several posts, we are going to link back to discussions from each of the panels in hopes of providing some starting points of discussion for this year's registrants, many of whom we hope are keeping up with the C3 blog.

For those of you who won't be able to join us this year, we hope these resources from last year's conference gives you some idea of what will be happening here this weekend and serve as a precursor to the live-blogging that will be taking place here on our site and hopefully across many of this year's registrants.

We're going to start out by looking at Henry Jenkins' opening address from last year.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Henry Jenkins' Opening Comments" »

November 8, 2007

WGA Strike in Context: A Brief History of Labor Conflicts within Changing Media Landscapes

On Monday, the Writer's Guild of America finally went on strike. The WGA and the AMPTP spent just over three months mired in unsuccessful negotiations this time around, C3 has been following the conflict over Internet residuals since 2006, with posts from Sam Ford here, here and here. Also see Jason Mittell's post from earlier today.

But even beyond that, these sort of debates have been at the center of battles between the guilds and the studios for decades, and anyone familiar with the ongoing struggles over structures of compensation in the changing media marketplace would have seen this strike coming a long way off.

Continue reading "WGA Strike in Context: A Brief History of Labor Conflicts within Changing Media Landscapes" »

"Best Practices in Fair Use" from The Society for Cinema and Media Studies

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies has just posted a Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use in Teaching for Film & Media Educators. This statement can be accessed here.

C3 Consulting Researcher Jason Mittell, a member of the SCMS sub-committee on fair use responsible for this document, was one of its key authors.

This document establishes clear guidelines, including limitations and clarifications, for educators covering the areas of classroom screenings, broadcast recordings, derivative works, online distance education, and public domain. Of particular interest is Appendix A, which displays a chart of "Responsibilities for Displaying or Performing Film and Media in On-Line Instruction" covering the institution, the faculty, and information technology units.

Continue reading ""Best Practices in Fair Use" from The Society for Cinema and Media Studies" »

The Strike

Last Sunday, I published a piece on my blog on the upcoming writer's strike. In light of C3's postings about the situation in the past and C3 graduate student Xiaochang Li's post that will appear here later today, I thought it might be of interest to the Consortium's readers. On Sunday, after I wrote this, the WGA pulled their DVD residual request, which means that the new media question is really the only sticking point right now.

The big news in the world of American television is the upcoming strike of the Writer's Guild of America, planned to start Monday, November 5. While I'm not an expert on the convoluted world of Hollywood labor policies, I thought I'd blog a bit about what's going on and offer a bit of analysis from the perspective of a TV scholar -- if you want up-to-date news on the strike, check Variety.

Continue reading "The Strike" »

Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (5 of 5)

This is the fifth of a five-part series of an interview I conducted in March 2006 with the pastor of a small Baptist church in Kentucky about how ministers use the media at a local level and the art of oratory in preaching. Rev. Darrell Belcher is the past or Echols General Baptist Church in Echols, Ky.

Sam Ford: Do you think the Internet, since it can stream audio and video, provides new opportunities for delivering sermons?

Darrell Belcher: I think we have a wonderful opportunity here, if it is used correctly. Television, radio, and the Internet broadens a pastor's horizons immensely. You can think about outreach here and can potentially have this be a religious realm, if you use it correctly.

Continue reading "Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (5 of 5)" »

Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (4 of 5)

This is the fourth of a five-part series of an interview I conducted in March 2006 with the pastor of a small Baptist church in Kentucky about how ministers use the media at a local level and the art of oratory in preaching. Rev. Darrell Belcher is the past or Echols General Baptist Church in Echols, Ky.

Sam Ford: Do you find preaching on radio and/or television more restrictive than a regular sermon?

Darrell Belcher: I feel equally comfortable doing radio as I do delivering a message live. When you are with a congregation, you don't have any time limits or anything like that, so you can deliver live better than on radio because you don't have to figure out how to squeeze a message into 15 or 20 minutes. You don't have time to stop and deliberate on something and then start back. You just have to put it out there fast and get it out there. In front of a congregation, you have time to play with things a little bit while you are preaching.

Continue reading "Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (4 of 5)" »

Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (3 of 5)

This is the third of a five-part series of an interview I conducted in March 2006 with the pastor of a small Baptist church in Kentucky about how ministers use the media at a local level and the art of oratory in preaching. Rev. Darrell Belcher is the past or Echols General Baptist Church in Echols, Ky.

Sam Ford: Tell me about your experience in preaching on the radio.

Darrell Belcher: Radio is completely different. For radio, you go into a studio. They sit you in a sound room, just you alone, or maybe they'll bring in a group of singers first who will sing, and then they put you in a sound room by yourself. They turn the lights on, and you know you are live on the air and what amount of time has been allotted to you. You have a time when you can start and a time you have to finish. It's not like preaching to the congregation; it's a lot harder, standing in there all alone, just preaching to the walls. It's a lot harder preaching like that than it is preaching at a church somewhere. You can't have any contact with anyone but the four walls in the studio. Of course, they have a little window there you can look through and see the person running the switchboard or whatever it might be out there. They give you your cues of when to start and when to stop, so you have to keep your mind on that, too. It's completely different than going into a church or anything like that.

Continue reading "Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (3 of 5)" »

Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (2 of 5)

This is the second of a five-part series of an interview I conducted in March 2006 with the pastor of a small Baptist church in Kentucky about how ministers use the media at a local level and the art of oratory in preaching. Rev. Darrell Belcher is the past or Echols General Baptist Church in Echols, Ky.

Sam Ford: Darrell, how frequently do pastors in your position deliver sermons?

Darrell Belcher: I have done radio shows, and I used to do some things years ago for Channel 13 (a local station in Bowling Green, Ky.) There was a lot of filming done of revivals I have preached and messages I delivered back in Louisville years ago. 15 or 20 years ago, I preached a lot of revivals. I was healthy, so I travelled a lot. I would sometimes preach five or six revivals in a row, without stopping, plus pastoring a church in between. It was hard to travel, and you had to take off work if you had a regular job most of the time. I always tried to keep my preaching in front of my job. WHen I worked for General Motors, it was always a little harder to manage my work schedule with pastoring and revivals. But, I worked for about 20 years in my own business, so I could plan my work schedule around revivals, and have employees work for me while I was gone.

Continue reading "Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (2 of 5)" »

Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (1 of 5)

Our C3 graduate students, as part of their course on media theory and methods with Henry Jenkins this semester, have been working on an assignment to interview a media producer of some sort. My recent post on Jesus 2.0 reminded me of my own assignment I did for Henry's class last year, when I interviewed a longtime Baptist preacher as my assignment.

I returned to the original transcript of the interview and thought I would include it here on the C3 blog, as it focuses on how religion has long dealt with how content fits into multiple media forms, and how to adapt messages for various audiences. As religion, and all media, are struggling with how to best adapt messages for a new media space--which we actually call "new media" in this case--it's interesting to see how individual pastors on a local level have been considering these changes in relation to the radio, televised preaching, etc.

Continue reading "Delivering the Message: Interview with a Baptist Minister (1 of 5)" »

November 7, 2007

Comics as Civic Media and Other Matters...

I posted this over at my blog earlier this week but thought I would include it here as well. Sam Ford wrote about The Center for Future Civic Media and Abhimanyu Das' post about the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund earlier this month, so I thought I would share my note about his post as well, along with some other relevant information to issues focused on here at C3 about an international story involving the U.S. getting more play on YouTube than in the mainstream press and a call for papers from Mark Deuze, who will be speaking at next weekend's Futures of Entertainment 2, focusing on the subject of the panel he is slated to be on: fan labor.

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November 5, 2007

The Applebee's in Dillon, Texas

The theory is that Friday Night Lights just hasn't grown a bigger audience because most people have never watched it. More than most shows, it does seem that I don't find people peripherally familiar with it; the people I talk to who have seen it absolutely love it, and everyone else says they have never watched. The show feels real in a way that few primetime shows have, and there's one element in particular that FNL does better than any other show on television: product placement and integration.

The Applebee's integration into FNL is the best use of product integration I've ever seen. The restaurant is a prominent part of the story at many points, as one of the key characters works as a waitress there and it's the de facto place to stop in town for a nicer meal, if players or their parents aren't going to the local burger shop or the "Alamo Freeze." Actually, the "Alamo Freeze" is a Dairy Queen, and you can easily tell that's the case, complete with partial shots of the Dairy Queen sign and Blizzards on the menu. My understanding is that it is even filmed at a Dairy Queen in Austin, Texas, but that they've chosen to make it a localized restaurant instead.

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November 4, 2007

Around the Consortium: Kinset, Netnography, Globe and Mail, and Podcasts

As I wrap up a run of weekend posts for the Consortium, I wanted to point the way to a few interesting pieces that have been written around the Consortium in the past week.

First, I mentioned earlier this week that I spent some time over at Hill/Holliday with Ilya Vedrashko this past week. On Ilya's blog, The Advertising Lab, he wrote last week about Kinset, a company which provides 3D storefronts for online retailers, trying to create a virtual version of real-world shopping. He points out that shelves are filled with search results.

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Jesus 2.0: Christianity in Cyberspace

One aspect of media convergence that fascinates me is the crossroads between "convergence and conversion," the ways in which religious communities find interesting new ways to use the Internet to provide explicitly Christian venues to build community, share videos and music, and consume media content. A recent Forbes piece by Andy Greenberg looks at some of these initiatives, including Godtube, Mypraize, and MyChurch, among others, in what one person calls "Jesus 2.0." In pointing to this piece, I wanted to look back at some of my own writing about "Jesus 2.0" over the past couple of years here on the C3 blog.

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The Black Nerd: A Stereotype to Break Stereotypes?

No one knows about nerd culture quite like MIT, right? After all, as legendary WWE play-by-play announcer put it so succinctly when he visited the Program in Comparative Media Studies last spring to speak to my class on pro wrestling and in a colloquium, we're supposed to be a school full of math nerds.

That mentality has given us all sorts of references in popular culture, from Beauty and the Geek to The Big Bang Theory to Weird Al Yankovic's "White and Nerdy", as I wrote about last October. This was perhaps best captured for a generation by Revenge of the Nerds and its subsequent sequels.

But Raafi Rivero at Desedo Films recently provided an interesting account of the ways in which the black nerd was an important part of our culture yet not particularly well marketed to, in favor of the stereotypes most generally associated with hip-hop culture. We're a culture that trades on stereotypes, to be sure, but Rivero's piece emphasizes that there are many types of archetypes to play on, and black culture is sprinkled with plenty of "black nerds."

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Bluegrass Music and Fan Tourism at Jerusalem Ridge

I wanted to start out this morning by writing about something close to my heart: bluegrass music, bourbon, and The Bluegrass State. I was reading an article from today's New York Times that dealt with a reporter's excursion for a tour of Kentucky, which ended up being on the front page of the travel section. And right there at the top of the story, by Steven Kurutz, was The Rosine Barn Jamboree, a landmark of my home county: Ohio County, Ky., "The Birthplace of Bluegrass Music," as it commonly called itself, and home to about 23,000 people.

The article chronicles a journey through bourbon country and distilleries throughout the state, which are mostly east of where bluegrass music was berthed. But the final piece of the article looks at their journey to the big Jerusalem Ridge bluegrass music festival and the many ways it tries to recreate the authenticity of yesteryear in celebrating the music, and the culture that inspired the music, of Bill Monroe and other bluegrass legends.

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November 3, 2007

The Future of Niche Cinema

Is it time to explore alternate forms of distribution a little bit more heavily? We have all come to generally agree to some of the principles for Long Tail economics; particularly, that there is room for marketing to niche interests. Hollywood has been met with increasing skepticism, however, as to what this means for film distribution, which leaves me to question whether savvy forms of direct-to-DVD distribution or online distribution or VOD distribution may be the answer to the problems currently facing some films in the theater.

Perhaps several of you read or heard about the New York Times article a few days ago by Michael Cieply dealing with the lack of money derived from the theater release of several films. Of course, these films may end up being more profitable over time, but it's likely that the amount of cost put into promoting them for theater release will make turning a profit even less likely. Maybe it's not just the fat middles in danger anymore, to steal a line from Grant McCracken.

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November 1, 2007

Looking at the Panoramic View: The State of Online Video

Robert Doornick and his robot were not the only interesting people I met up with yesterday. I also had the chance to talk with a couple of very savvy guys who are looking toward advertising models for the new media space. One is Ilya Vedrashko, an alum of the Consortium who now works The Advertising Lab.

Joining us was Sorosh Tavakoli, one of the founders of VideoPlaza who was visiting from Sweden. The company looks at how to monetize online video in the European market.

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My Afternoon with the Robot

If anyone believes we live in a world that is all about social connections, and understanding people in relation to one another rather than as distinct wholes, it would be folks around CMS and the Consortium. Concepts we discuss often such as the value of Web 2.0 and social networks, as well as fan communities and "collective intelligence," are all about the power of meeting people.

But, recently, I had a chance to not just meet up with an interesting who, but a what as well. Yesterday afternoon, while spending some time in downtown Boston, I ended up in what turned into a longer conversation with a man and his robot.

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Looking at the Google/Nielsen Partnership in Light of This Year's Developments

One of the biggest pieces of news making the rounds of late is Google's further movement into the television industry with the announced partnership with Nielsen to help provide second-by-second ratings information, starting with a test market. I wanted to link this back to the trends we've been discussing here at the C3 blog for the past several months, to think about all that this means, and doesn't mean, for the industry.

First, Google having its eye on television advertising is hardly new news, although its application to audience measurement through Nielsen is. I wrote about the Echostar partnership Google started earlier this year in a post back in April, which also touted bringing online precision of "measurability and accountability" online.

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MIT Center for Future Civic Media Blog

Our cohorts over at MIT's new Center for Future Civic Media have been providing a lot of interesting and insightful pieces over on their new blog for the center, which is located here. The center is a collaboration between the Program in Comparative Media Studies and the Media Lab here at MIT, through a grant from the Knight Foundation. According to their Web site, the group will focus on creating the "technical and social systems for sharing, prioritizing, organizing, and acting on information. These include developing new technologies that support and foster civic media and political action; serving as an international resource for the study and analysis of civic media; and coordinating community-based test beds both in the United States and internationally."

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