September 29, 2008

"Who needs Dubai when we have Florida!"

Last week I went to the Independent Feature Project Conference in New York. To have this event happen early on in my thesis research was a treat. (Thanks to Dan Pereira for convincing me to go!). The event did a great job at getting different parts of the independent circuit together and talking about the issues that concern them right now. Over the next few days, I'll try to post a few more pieces on different aspects of the conference.

The first panel I attended was called "US Independents Going Global", part of their Global Marketplace-themed day. Yael Taqqu, from Mckinsey and Co., moderated the panel; Charlotte Mickie (Maximum Films), Peter Saraf (Big Beach Films) and filmmakers Brad Rust Grey and So Yong Kim participated in it. Mickie and Saraf along with Taqqu set the tone for the conversation.

The panel was not exactly upbeat. There are a lot of reasons for this, mainly that the market was falling apart and it was early enough in the morning that many of us hadn't had our coffee yet. Add to this the film and music industry's taste for a doomsday discourse, and this was not what you'd call a celebratory conversation.

Ten minutes into the discussion, the general consensus was that there are no real opportunities abroad. The only territory on the table was the US. At this point, just for the sake of honesty, I wanted to rename the panel "We are the World".

Here are some of the "takeaway points":

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September 17, 2008

Interactive Piracy: What Dialogue Really Looks Like

We here at C3 spend a lot of time thinking about copyright and IP, and the debates over "piracy" of materials online. In addition to our white paper on the topic, we have a whole blog category devoted to copyright and fair use. On the whole, however, most of our attention has been directed towards the music and film/television industries since they are the site of some of the most visible and vicious IP battles. I often overlook the games industry, who are often engaging with the same dilemmas. Recently, however, CMS colleague Josh Diaz from the MIT Gambit game lab, brought a very interesting case to my attention.

Back in early August, Cliff Harris, founder of independent PC game company Positech Games posted an open call to anyone who pirated copies of his games to tell him why. Fed up and perplexed by why people downloaded illegal copies of his games rather than paying the relatively low price per game, he did something that most major corporations have failed to considered: he asked why. Rather than going from the assumption that fans of his content were out to rip him off and seeking to correct the behavior through legal action, he made an effort to understand the motivating factors in search of problems that he might be able to address.

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September 8, 2008

Moving Into the Cloud.

There has been much made lately of the tech sector's newest favorite buzzword: cloud computing. Like many such newly-minted terms, there is some dispute about its actual definition; I wrote about one such permutation in a previous entry for the C3 Weekly Newsletter when the MacBook Air was about to be unveiled at the Macworld conference in January. In it, I conflated the terms 'cloud computing' with 'ubiquitous computing', but in retrospect I should pull the two terms apart somewhat. They're still linked at a very basic level -- both cloud computing and ubiquitous computing hinge on the idea of decentralization, which I'll get back to in a bit -- but by attempting to distinguish these two terms, we begin to gain a clearer idea of where our digital culture is heading next.

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September 5, 2008

Around the Consortium: C3 Connections Around the Web

Continuing with some catch-up news from over the summer, I wanted to point toward a few interesting articles and posts that highlighted the Consortium's work and the work of our graduate students and alum.

First, we're honored to have Prof. Mark Deuze at Indiana University using the Consortium's blog as part of the material for his course this fall, entitled "Media Organizations." In addition to highlighting Henry Jenkins' work, he includes links to this blog as one of the resources for students to follow what's happening in the industry, according to his recent post about the class. I am elated that Mark has found a classroom use for the public side of the what the Consortium is doing, and I'd love to hear from his students in comments here along the way.

Meanwhile, while Consortium graduate student researcher Xiaochang Li was away from MIT this summer, she was busy at work for Brooklyn-based Big Spaceship. She even had a chance to write a few thought pieces for Spaceship's blog over the summer that might be of interest to C3 readers. See her posts "The 'Twebinar' Experience: Connectivity Versus Conversation", "Pirate's Dilemma: The Movie?", "Halo Kid the New Starwars Kid?", and Everything Old Is New Again: Transmedia Goes Traditional".

A couple of particularly relevant pieces Xiaochang wrote for Big Spaceship included her piece entitled "Is This a Conversation We Want To Be Having?".

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September 4, 2008

On Soap Operas and "Strategic Forgetting and Remembering"

C3 Consulting Researcher Jason Mittell spent some time in June a little out of his element, presenting at a conference in Madison, Wisconsin, for The Society for Cognitive Study of the Moving Image. Jason gives an outsider's perspective on the work being done in the field of cognitive film studies, as well as the slides from his own work, on his blog, Just TV.

His presentation was entitled "Previously On: Prime Time Serials & the Poetics of Memory," addressing questions of how American television storytelling has shifted in the past two decades and issues of "historical poetics." His slides bring up some intriguing points, one of which deals with how the longtime complex and serialized storytelling nature of daytime serial dramas (soap operas) intersect with primetime dramas. Jason and I have discussed these issues through the blogosphere in the past (Look here and here.)

Back in that prior post, I wrote about some discussion that broke out in the comments section of Jason's blog.

I said regarding redundancy in soaps that:

But people outside the genre often greatly overstate the amount of redundancy in soaps, I think. Reader StinkyLuLu makes this point, writing, "My basic feeling is that what you call redundancy is actually a pivotal soap pleasure--revisiting key moments from the recent and distant past--not unlike the narrative data mining you describe in contemporary prime time serial drama." I'd like to develop that thought a little further.

At their worst, soaps are recap-laden. I've seen Days of Our Lives have episodes a few years ago, for instance, that seemed more flashback to earlier in the week than current. That's not good soap, and we have to distinguish between good and bad practices in the genre. However, with five episodes a week and little in terms of reruns, the redundancy is necessary. That's why REaction is so important in soaps. The redundancy becomes a central part of the story. It matters not as much that X happens as it does seeing how everyone in town responds to finding out about X. In that case, the plot is a driver for character-driven stories. Anyone who missed X will find out about it during various scenes retelling and reaction to parts of it, but that retelling process IS the show; it's about interpersonal relationships, not the what. (By the way, my guess is that some of the fans who fast-forward are also some of the ones who archive; fans often pick out particular characters or stories they follow on a show that they actively consume, even while skipping others...)

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September 3, 2008

C3's Joshua Green Speaking at Inverge on Friday

C3's Joshua Green will be speaking this Friday, Sept. 05, at the Inverge Interactive Convergence Conference in Portland, Oregon. His presentation, entitled "Restructure Time? Two Years in Convergence Culture," will focus on the two years since the publication of Henry Jenkins' book that this Consortium launched around. During Green's time with the Consortium over the past two years, he has helped direct and push our thinking about "what comes next?"

Inverge is an annual conference from IndePlay. See more here. See more information on Joshua's appearance last year from the invergence blog and here at the C3 blog.

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September 2, 2008

Around the Consortium: Catching Up with the C3 Community

After light posting throughout the summer here on the Consortium's blog, we're going to be returning to daily posting once again now that a new academic year is upon us. The core C3 team will be organizing a new year of academic projects, and preparing for the big Futures of Entertainment 3 conference I posted the reminder about on Friday.

Although I'm no longer at MIT and participating in the core team's work, I look forward to returning to blogging on at least a weekly basis here at C3. To start that off, I wanted to draw your attention to some books, projects, thought pieces, and other projects the broader Consortium community has been working on over the summer, despite the gaps of silence here. Over the next few days, I'll be posting a few updates highlighting these projects.

To start off with, here are a few summer blog entries of note:

Another Member of the C3 Community Weighs in on Twitter. The "Twebinar" earlier this summer generated reactions from C3 Graduate Student Researcher Xiaochang Li, and I wrote a piece on Twitter here. Now, Geoffrey Long is the latest to weigh in. He writes:

Granted, one of the charming elements of businesses like The Minnesota Press on Twitter is the idea that there's an actual warm body writing those tweets out there somewhere; Twitter is such a still-indie enterprise that it still conveys, to me at least, a sense of personal connection with those whom I'm following. However, given the number of spam follow notifications I receive, I'm not sure that will stay that way much longer. It's this hat trick of corporate tweeting, a primed space for a tiered Pro package and the emergence of Twitter as a spam delivery system that makes me suspect that Twitter is right at the tipping point of some form of major reinvention.

See more here.

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