August 29, 2008

Reminder: FoE3 This November

Since several people have e-mailed me of late to inquire again about the dates of this year's Futures of Entertainment 3 conference, I wanted to remind everyone of the information here through the blog. Be sure to make your travel plans soon! More information about guest speakers, panel topics, and specific times will be forthcoming soon.

As has been the case in previous years, the event is scheduled the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year, that will be Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22.

This year's event will be held in the Wong Auditorium in the Tang Center here at MIT, which will be a larger venue than the conference room that housed the first two iterations of this event.

Continue reading "Reminder: FoE3 This November" »

August 26, 2008

McCain to Obama Supporters: "Get a Life!"

I posted this recently on my blog and thought it would likewise be of interest to C3 blog readers.

One of the most powerful tools in the Karl Rove arsenal was a form of political Judo: take your opponent's strengths and turn them into vulnerabilities. For example, coming into the 2004 convention, Democrats had seen war hero John Kerry as pretty much unassailable on issues of patriotism and they made it a central theme of their event. Within a week or two, the Swift Boat Campaign made Kerry's service record an uncomfortable topic to discuss, flipping Kerry's advantage (that he had served in Vietnam and neither George W. Bush nor Dick Cheney had done so) on its head. This added the phrase, "Swiftboating," to the language of American politics.

Coming into the Primary season, several things stood out about Barack Obama: First, he had developed a reputation as the Democrat who was most comfortable talking about his faith in the public arena; many Democrats felt that he gave them a shot at attracting some more independent-minded evangelical Christians, especially given the emergence of more progressive voices that linked Christianity to serving the poor, combating AIDS, and protecting the environment. (Indeed, we saw signs of that pitch during Obama's appearance at the Saddleback Church Forum last week, when he clearly knew and deployed evangelical language better than McCain). Yet, the circulation of the Rev. Wright videos -- not to mention the whisper campaigns charging that he is secretly Islamic -- blunted his ability to use faith as a primary part of his pitch to voters. Similarly, the Obama campaign showed an early comfort with talking about American traditions in lofty and inspirational values, so he has been confronted with attacks from reactionary talk radio questioning his patriotism.

Over the past three weeks, we've seen the McCain campaign take aim at a third of Obama's strengths -- the so-called "enthusiasm gap." Basically, pundits have been talking a good deal about the lack of enthusiasm for the Republican nominee among his rank and file in comparison with the extraordinary passion Obama has generated, especially among young and minority voters. To confront this "enthusiasm gap," the McCain campaign has clearly decided that it needs to pathologize enthusiasm itself, suggesting that emotional investments in candidates are dangerous, and thus positioning himself as the only "rational" choice. In doing so, he has tapped deeply rooted anxieties about popular culture and its fans.

This is not the old culture war rhetoric where candidates accused each other of being soft on "popular culture," a tactic which Joseph Lieberman has turned into an art form. No, this time, the attack is on politics as popular culture. Both tactics strike me as profoundly anti-democratic. After all, how do you found a democratic society on the assumption that the public is stupid and has bad judgment?

Continue reading "McCain to Obama Supporters: "Get a Life!"" »

August 19, 2008

Media in Transition 6 April 24-26

Many of you who follow the C3 blog regularly might also be interested in next year's Media in Transition 6 conference. MiT6, subtitled "Stone and Papyrus, Storage and Transmission," will be held on MIT's campus from April 24-26, 2009. The call for papers was recently released, and researchers are accepted both from traditional academic positions, as well as independent researchers, industry voices, and anyone else interested in participating.

See information on the last iteration of the Media in Transition conference, MiT5, on the C3 blog here.

The call for papers is inside, and the conference Web site is here.

Abstracts of no more than 500 words or full papers should be sent to Brad Seawell at no later than Friday, Jan. 9, 2009. We will evaluate abstracts and full papers on a rolling basis and early submission is highly encouraged. All submissions should be sent as attachments in a Word format. Submitted material will be subject to editing by conference organizers.

Email is preferred, but submissions can be mailed to:

Brad Seawell
MIT 14N-430
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

Please include a biographical statement of no more than 100 words. If your paper is accepted, this statement will be used on the conference Web site.

Please monitor the conference Web site at for registration information, travel information and conference updates.

Abstracts will be accepted on a rolling basis until Jan. 9, 2009.

The full text of your paper must be submitted no later than Friday, April 17. Conference papers will be posted to the conference Web site.

Continue reading "Media in Transition 6 April 24-26" »

August 1, 2008

The Fireside Chat Vs. the Podcast

i wanted to give a quick link today to another couple of pieces I wrote or collaborated on recently that I thought might interest some Consortium blog readers. First, Peppercom co-founder Steve Cody and I recently ran a piece in BusinessWeek entitled "The Fireside Chat Vs. the Podcast".

The piece looks at how FDR's use of the radio for more personal communication to the citizenry revolutionized the way national government spoke to the country in the 1930s and how the Internet has introduced myriad new opportunities that the government has taken little advantage of so far. In our editorial, we look at the current economic downturn, ways in which the Internet would allow the government and corporations alike to more efficiently communicate with the public about their decisions, and the general need for more transparency in national government decision-making.

We write:

But what happens once one of these candidates is elected to office? What would be the modern equivalent of the fireside chat? How can tools like LinkedIn and YouTube be used to provide a more transparent government? [ . . . ]

The White House today continues the weekly radio addresses pioneered by FDR and offers regular press briefings, weekly e-mail updates, and occasional Presidential press conferences. However, the information conveyed here lacks in both depth and accessibility when compared to the information supporters are inundated with by Presidential campaigns.

Perhaps the most promising title on the White House's official site--"White House Interactive"--leads to a question-and-answer section, with the most "recent" question dated Mar. 26, 2007. The question: "George W. Bush is what number as President of the U.S.?" Talk about useless information.

I'd love to hear any feedback you might have about the piece, either here or over on the BusinessWeek site.

Sam Ford is a research affiliate with the Consortium and Director of Customer Insights with Peppercom. He also writes for PepperDigital.

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