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?".

She writes:

Typically, the "conversation" is discussed in terms of one between consumers and the product or brand. But, as I discuss in a forthcoming MIT Convergence Culture Consortium white paper co-written with Henry Jenkins and Ana Domb Krauskopf, any conversation that includes brands is more functionally a conversation between individuals and groups, in which a brand or product serves some sort of communication of shared social worth within a group or community, and is capable of serving some sort of expressive purpose. Brands, in other words, are useful in "conversation" for their expressive power, for their ability to absorb and display meaning. This is something that Grant McCracken talks about at considerable depth and frequency for those interested, but my main point here is that to conceive of these banners as a means of facilitating conversations between people is probably a step in the right direction.

What concerns me, however, is that meaning exists not only in content, but also in context. Much of the expressive power of a brand lies within the context in which it is used, and by taking away the user's ability to define the context of their "conversation," they potentially strip it of its communicative value, and its usefulness and passability.

Meanwhile, see this post about monetizing fan practices, entitled "Monetization and Its Discontents."

Speaking of seeing C3ers elsewhere, recent MIT Sloan graduate and Consortium alum Eleanor Baird has now gone to work with Boston-based analytics company Compete and is a regular contributor to their Compete blog. You can find posts from her here, ranging from topics such as mobile phones, online traffic surrounding Summer 2008 blockbusters, and the competition between cable networks and online video sites, and electronics retailers. See Eleanor's prior posts for the Consortium here.

Finally, frequent C3 commenter and occasional guest contributor Lynn Liccardo wrote a post recently about her return to writing about soap operas and her interaction with the Consortium, Henry Jenkins, and her work as a member of my thesis committee.

Hope these various links out provide some interesting reads for C3 readers. I'll be back next week with a few other posts from around the Consortium that I think might be of interest to those who follow the Consortium's blog.

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