November 12, 2007
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.

You can certainly see plenty of precursors to this year's event in Joshua's discussion last year. I have copied some of his comments below, some of which are ironic in light of the continued controversies between Viacom and Google in the past year:

On the other hand, he doesn't completely buy into iCult, and he makes the point that these opening remarks are not intended to be a celebration of the brand without reservations. "I enjoy my relationship with this machine more than the other Toshiba box I had before, but iTunes has DRM and now they've cornered the market." He said that it's not the technology but the social interaction that it enables and encourages. He says that these types of social interactions is what companies are starting to get, and he points to Comedy Central's recent assurances at not taking all Comedy Central clips off YouTube as an example.

He points to examples from various Internets as his example of how the technology is used as social relationships. In making fun of the Ted Stevens "tubes" reference to the Internet, Joshua points to the user-generated responses to his idea of tubes. One was very scientific, the type of industrial containers you would see around MIT with those danger hazardous stickers on them. The other model is Fallopian tubes. He described the top one as being about technology, while the ladder is about organicness and squishiness. He asserts that the increasing acceptance of identity politics and the politics traditionally ascribed to a female domain in consumerism and fandom, etc., makes the Fallopian tubes of the Internet perhaps a better analogy.

In addition to this discussion about tactile relationships and viscerality, Joshua discussed the distinction between impressions and expressions. Impressions, as the old model, is when we send messages out that leave impressions on to users that prompt them to do something. When you understand tactile relationships, though, Joshua said that you encourage audiences to speak in some way. "When the product is transformed from commodity to culture, though, you have to cede control because it's no longer yours," he said, "but it's okay."