January 24, 2008
Around the Consortium: Qualitative Research, Commercial Avoidance, Games, and TV

As always, there's a variety of interesting pieces popping up around the blogosphere by those associated with the Convergence Culture Consortium. This week, we'll be looking at qualitative research, commercial avoidance, trial games, time-shifting television, and 24's connection with the current political scene.

First of all, as C3 Research Manager Joshua Green and Consulting Researcher Grant McCracken teach their course on qualitative research here at MIT for our Independent Activities Period, Grant has been providing some of the resources for the class to his blog readers as well. Grant shares some of his thoughts here and here.

Over on his Advertising Lab blog, C3 Alum Ilya Vedrashko provides some intriguing numbers, from a BIGresearch study. Vedrashko pulls out some numbers that find, in addition to those who channel surf, a significant number of viewers report that they either talk with others in the room or by phone or mentally tune out. Now I'm not sure on the math, as there appear to be crossover between some of the categories, as the percentage adds up to more than 100 percent. I guess that one could mentally tune out or talk on the phone while channel surfing, however. The numbers come from the simultaneous media consumption research, called SIMM 11.

C3 Consulting Researcher and Worldwide Games Portfolio Planner for Xbox Live Arcade David Edery writes a lengthy piece about how to make the trial experience for games more compelling, suggesting a variety of tactics, dealing specifically with finding just the right length for the trial, making the trial game immediately enjoyable, showing off a game's beset features, and not frustrating the player.

Meanwhile, one of the Consortium's consulting researchers whose primary focus is television--Middlebury College's Jason Mittell--provides his readers with an excerpt from his textbook-in-progress entitled Television & American Culture, focusing particularly on the shift from liveness and the concept of television programming and flow, toward the rise of time-shifting technologies, first with the VCR and now with the DVR. See his piece on that shift in what television content means here, from Jason's blog, Just TV.

Finally, C3 Consulting Researcher Robert V. Kozinets provides an interesting take on the Barack Obama campaign over on his blog, Brandthroposophy. Kozinets looks at the character of David Palmer and the fact that the show 24 "has actually featured African-American Presidents (or to-be Presidents, or ex-Presidents) in every one of its six seasons." He concludes by saying, "Is 24 helping to prime American for an African-American President by virtue of the fact and the way this President has been fictionally portrayed? I think that my own hypermediation theory and Gerbner's cultivation theory would say yes."