November 28, 2008

Futures of Entertainment roundups

This year's futures of entertainment conference was a great success. We enjoyed two solid days of discussion, with clever panelists and a really engaged audience.

If you missed the event, we'll be posting podcasts of the sessions shortly. In the meantime, you can check out the C3 team's live-blogging of the event here.

Amber Case, who participated in a great panel on Social Media has a write up of the event here and here.

There are photos of the event here (courtesy of Geoffrey Long), here (courtesy of Amber Case). We have a large batch of photos we'll be uploading over the next week as well.

There was much tweeting throughout the event and afterwards, which you can check out here if you're interested. At one point we surpassed Twilight in the Twitterverse, which was a little bit of a thrill.

We'll be back next week with thoughts and commentary, and we'll let you all know when the podcasts and additional material are available. I'd like to take a moment to once again thank the C3 team, the staff at CMS, and our helpful volunteers for making this event happen, and to thank each of the panelists who came and sat down with us to talk about the current and future state of the media landscape. I hope that everyone who attended got as much from this event as I did; thanks for coming to spur the conversation along and push our thinking outwards. If you have your own notes posted, drop a note in the comments and I'll be happy to update the links.

November 23, 2008

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 7 - Global Flows, Global Deals

So we finished out FOE by trying to push some of the key themes of the conference into a global context, with panelists Nancy Baym (Personal Connections in a Digital Age), Robert Ferrari (Vice President of Business Development, Turbine Inc.) and Maurício Mota (Director of Strategy and Business Development, New Content Brazil).

The panel was moderated by C3 Reseacher Xiaochang Li (that would be me, for those of you playing at home) and Liveblogging was done by Harvard undergraduate Christina Xu.

Introduction of Panelists:

  • Nancy Baym: I study fans on the internet. I come at it from an interpersonal relationship and community building angle. I'm more interested in music fans than the narrative music, and how they relate to other fans in relation to pop culture material. I'm especially focused on Swedish/Scandinavian music flowing out of Swedish borders.
  • Bob Ferrari: VP of Business development, Turbine Inc. Looking at the online gaming side of the business. Turbine is a studio, 350+, based in Boston with a small office on the West Coast, that focuses on social (MMO) gaming. We build these deep dynamic worlds around brands (LoTR, D&D) and bring in hundreds of thousands of players into these live worlds and allow them to play & socialize. What I've been doing is driving it not just domestically, but also bringing them to other countries (Russia, starting South America, China/Hong Kong, Korea).
  • Mauricio Mota: Director of Strategy and Business Development, New Content. Pioneer company on branded content, leading the process of bringing transmedia storytelling to Brazil. Managing all of Unilever's 29 brands.

Videos by Mauricio and Bob (embedded to the C3 blog here

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 7 - Global Flows, Global Deals" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 6 - Intersection of Academy and Industry

The sixth panel of FOE put together a number of academics and industry specialists to talk over how the two areas could be mutually beneficial to one another. The panel was moderated by C3 alum Sam Ford and liveblogging provided by CMS graduate student Lan Le.

Amanda Lotz, The Television Will be Revolutionized (NYU Press), University of Michigan.
She was trained in a text-based manner that was probably typical of media studies. She now looks into how texts are made, investigating the gaps in our understanding of TV history, the norms of production, and TV's role in US culture. While not strictly ethnographic, her work is informed by industry interviews and observing how industry talks to itself. She did not feel the previous theories were adequate in addressing the granularity of industrial case studies. But what can we say about media industries?

John Caldwell, Production Culture (Duke University Press), UCLA.
He has a background in production and film. He works in film, TV, labor, and ethnographic work in Los Angeles. The last few days has made him feel like a dinosaur, even though he writes about the same subjects -- but on the side of the workers and not the marketing. He feels that branding is merely the crust of a much larger space, and focuses on the "below the line" workers in this industry whose stories are not often seen. He has always advocated the integration of production and theory, but realized eventually that there's a lot of antipathy between the two sides. Distributed creativity occurs in professional workforces, not just in fan bases. There's a real contention about who is authorized to talk about the industry. Often failed academics will be most angry at the study of industry. We are dealing with the construction of two things: industry and academics. There are a multiplicity of industries, not a monolith. They are only willing to work together so long as the money keeps flowing. Academics are themselves not comfortable with acknowledge themselves as a construction.

Grant McCracken, Transformations: Identity Construction in Contemporary Culture (Indiana University Press).
He sees himself as an anthropologist of contemporary culture. He splits his time between academic and industrial consulting work. The dual identity is rough, which points to issues of integration.

Peter Kim, Dachis Corporation.
He feels that he represents industry, working for Razorfish in Cambridge. He began working for General Electric at age 18 in the Audit Staff, proceeding to move through many industry positions and companies. His work at Puma was in corporate digital branding.


Sam: What is the value of the flow of information between industry and academia? What does each side need to give and recieve to make this a valuable exchange?

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 6 - Intersection of Academy and Industry" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 5 - Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding

Moderating is C3 alum Ivan Askwith. The panel includes Lance Weiler ( (Director Head Trauma and The Last Broadcast), Tom Casiello, Tom Boland (Daytime Emmy Award-Winning former writer of As the World Turns, One Life to Live, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless), Sharon Ross (Columbia College Chicago), and Gregg Hale (from Campfire and producer of the Blair Witch Project).

Liveblogging provided by CMS grad student Flourish Klink.

IA: How many people would classify themselves as soap fans? [a few] Wrestling fans? [fewer] So it may be valuable to sketch out some of the stuff they're working on in more detail which may provide a richer foundation for us to talk.

GH: So this is the latest thing we've finished at Campfire for True Blood.

[Descriptive video about transmedia storytelling ad campaign for True Blood]

LW: Head Trauma and what we did with the actual film - the movie is about the fragmentation of memory, a guy who comes back home after 20 years to settle his grandmother's estate and finds it inhabited by squatters; he hits his head and starts having recurring nightmares that start to turn into reality. So we started to play with what's real and what isn't. We started with interactive comics and there were all kinds of easter eggs and rabbit holes as you moved through it. And that was a gateway to some of the other experiences. It was a way that we were able to build the world out. We interjected mobile experiences so when the movie had a world premiere we handed out these Jack Chick-style comics and there were ciphers and clues within them. On the back it asks "do you want to play the game?" and when you called the number that's there you'd get the nemesis of the movie; they'd hang up and then we'd call or text them back. This continued back and forth. Even when you went to the website, we could figure out that you were on there and call you during your visit to it. Throughout the premiere there was a whole give and take with phones - about 86% of the audience was engaged mobilely. And we had an online series with all these subliminal things in it, and there was a remix area, where people could remix their own fragments. At one point when people showed up somewhere based on the clues in the game for a secret movie showing I ended up calling the LAPD and they came by with the helicopter and I executed all these SMS and phone calls saying things like "We're watching you!"

TB: Before we dive in I want to explain the marketing machine behind the WWE. Trust me when I say this is very big business.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 5 - Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 4 - When Comics Converge: Making Watchmen

For the first panel of Day 2, we opened with a case study of the making of The Watchmen film, based on the foundational Alan Moore graphic novel with Henry Jenkins, production designer Alex McDowell, and Alisa Perren from Georgia State University.

Liveblogging services this time around were provided by CMS grad student Lan Le.

Comics are now reaching us through multiple channels. We aren't just going to comic book stores to get our comic stories anymore. They're coming to us through movies, bookstores, online. So too has the image of the comics consumer changed to include larger, general audiences in addition to the core comics fans.

We began the talk by screen two different trailers for Watchmen, which is Alex McDowell's latest project. The first trailer was screened at Comic-Con, which was aimed at the fans of the comic book. The second trailer was constructed with a larger, general audience in mind. These trailers were to help us begin thinking about how the movie visually adapted the comic book material.

Alex: The movie is remarkably visually faithful to the book. Snyder is definitely a fan of genre and comic books first. Watchmen spent 20 years in development at various studios. The film has finally come into existance at time when, coincidentally or not, the satirical parallels have cycled back into political existance. While time has elapsed between the writing of Watchmen and it's film, Snyder has updated the film through layers of cultural reference and art design. Examples of the film's awareness of other pieces of science-fiction stories are echoed in the set design, referencing films such as Dr. Strangeglove and The Man That Fell to Earth. Working on the world of Watchmen was a great opportunity to "rip off every movie you ever liked."

Henry: It's no accident that the film is coming out now with the explosive of revival of the superhero genre in film.

Alisa: The film was greenlit October 2001, a month after 9/11. Cultural factors did exist to propel comic books into the cultural mainstream, yes, but industrial issues also shaped this revival. At first, it seemed that the growth of comic books in movies must have been due to a prior growth of comics. It's actually the opposite. Comic book sales declined or stayed very low during this period. The sales, it turns out, were driven by studios - not the reverse. Horizontal integration factors into this scenario. But there are also a new generation of exectives, writers, and artists who came of age in an era where sophisticated or literary comic books were the rage. These creative producers had greater appreciation for the source text and insisted on a greater fidelity to the source material. They tapped into an interactive fan culture that appreciates this too.

Alex: Hollywood is often a fan of the material.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 4 - When Comics Converge: Making Watchmen" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 3 - Social Media

Our last panel of Day 1, liveblogged by Christina Xu, current undergraduate student from Harvard and whom some of you know as one of the organizers of Roflcon last year.

Joe Marchese (
Amber Case (Hazelnut Consulting)
Sabrina Caluori (Director, Marketing and Promotions, HBO Online)
Kyle Ford, (Director of Product Marketing, Ning)
Rhonda Lowry (Vice President, Social Media Technologies, Turner Broadcasting)

Alice Marwick (grad student @ NYU)


  • RL: Has been working in social media for a while. She uses a separate online identity to research virtual worlds. It's hard to grok virtual worlds without understanding social media, so she took a role at Turner to get people to understand identity as construct, leveraging talents across mediums and how that can transform you & the marketplace.
  • JM: Brings brands into social media. We're the answer to how you're going to make money off of all of this. It's not easy: brands have the opposite problem of media (instead of where media is going, it's where their brands are NOT going). Each person is a micro-publisher, and now brands need to have relationships with lots of people. There's a myth that brands reach people through social media, but people reach people through social media.
  • KF: Direct of product marketing @ Ning. Been there for about 3 years. Crossed 600,000 social networks. Before that, was at Yahoo TV & Movie and Fox, doing television site.
  • AC: Cyborg anthropologist, studies what it's like to be on the online space and what happens when people upload parts of themselves online. Blogs for Discovery Channel.
  • SC: Marketing at Aggregates social media activities that happen across the company and try to gather them back into the brand by keeping communities online past specific events.

November 22, 2008

What if Capitão Nascimento had read Convergence Culture?

For anyone who had to miss the last panel at FOE3 and missed the great Convergence Culture fanvid (Thanks to Mauricio Mota at New Content for sharing this with all of us):

November 21, 2008

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 2 - Making Audiences Matter

Coming out of Henry and Yochai's conversation about networked media spaces and participatory culture, we headed into a discussion of value around audience, with liveblogging by CMS graduate student Flourish Klink.

Moderator Joshua Green: I want to address topics that have been brewing all day to discuss what the audience may be becoming - "the audience ain't what it used to be." So intro's...

Kim Moses: Exec producer of Ghost Whisperer.

Gail De Kosnik: Ass't prof in UC Berkeley Center for New Media

Vu Nguyen:

Kevin Slavin: Area/Code - "games that have computers in them"

JG: In a transmedia world, what does the audience look like?

KM: I come from a very traditional place, a network television show - needs to have a v. broad appeal. So my goal is to "take back Friday nights" - took different media platforms in addition to TV to reach multiple groups.

GDK: Audiences today aren't just audiences, they think of themselves as makers. Are audiences also workers in the media industry?

VN: Audience more empowered & therefore demanding than ever. Crunchyroll's audience consumes media online primarily. Skews young because tech-savvy, less money, more time to invest.

KS: The conventional idea of "mass" is actually really constrained by the geography, distribution of a TV signal, at a certain time... assumptions are made in the production of conventional media because it is locationally, temporally situated. When those things go away that's REALLY mass - it can be to anyone anywhere at any time. That's a totally different thing. Part of the value of a conventional model is that there are those geographic, locational constraints. But now ad value goes down because it could be anyone, targeted ads are harder.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 2 - Making Audiences Matter" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Conversation -- Wealth, Value, and Social Production

Henry Jenkins and Yochai Benkler see themselves as a closely related, which that they had read each other's book in terms of thinking about differentially motivated players.

Nonprofit distribution of content - now we can begin there. In this moment of peer production, what are the nonprofit, public television.

YB: implications that I see are - 1. A change of role. In an environment where communicating with large groups, public media was uncorrelated with market flows of cultural production. That cost barrier isn't there anymore, so the necessity of sufficient level of ____ isn't there anymore. So is it the elite aspect of it? When you look at free software and open access books and the role of foundations that harness work of peers into whole. Nonprofits are becoming helping groups become more effective in what they do. Public media needs to
instead of producing educational materials that are stable good but to provide ways in which teachers can produce content. WGBH - Nova - convert content into spreadable media in ways that are pitched from a different perspective. Understanding the need for a locus of high capital production has become less important. What little public funds there are can go further if they're oriented toward provided opportunities for generating content rather than created fixed content. Mentione - sunlight foundation, apache software

HJ: Public tv used to provide diversity, but it couldn't provide the social network, the passion for diversity. In an era of social networks, PBS plays a role as a digital network. Very good at soliciting us as contributors but stops once pledge week ends. Function it plays in joining people into a real network

YB - not a non seq - WSJ creating a network of paid subscribers. A signal about what kind of person they are. Same thing possible with public television, except not an issue of payment but participation. Not sure if it would capture young people.

HJ: what;s your research showing about what motivates people to join social networks?

YB: not just social networks-- we're slowly coming to accept (loosely defined "we") that academia is dominated by a view of selfish rationality. Shared perception that this is largest modality of perception in social sciences. Image of Alan Greenspan - I relied on self-interest and it failed me. Not to be sneezed at. For me, free software as been particularly powerful in making this argument. Someone who relies on markets
renewed interest in mapping
catalog in an organized way what are human motivations
object is to come up with a sufficient usable set of clusters of human motivators, and then, what do I need to think about - using the terms of gift and worth and the gift economy. Tends to think in terms that are useful but partial. Examples - status, atomistic giving, reputation,
function of social capital - also interpersonal relatedness - a sense of identity
fascinating surveys of free software - why- reputation, expectation of future work, solving a particular problem - easily convertible into a self-interested problem. But, it turns about that people say 75% as a central aspect of their identity, of who they are, fairness, giving back, sheer pleasure, then reputations, etc. need to be part of sociality is important, what's right, fair, reciprocal, etc. Though guilt and shame can be part of it.

HJ: Web 2.0 includes economic motivations on one side and ---- on the other. How might it scrambled?

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Conversation -- Wealth, Value, and Social Production" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 1 -- Consumption, Value and Worth

First full panel of the day, with liveblogging services courtesy of CMS Graduate student Lana Swartz and CMS/C3 Alumni Sam Ford.

Liveblogger's Note: Hello, dear reader, I did the best I could to make this coherent, but now I need to eat foods.

HJ: This panel is really intended to extend the conversation, continuing to lay out the core vocabulary that was developed in earlier remarks


Rishi Dean - VP Visible Measures, working on metrics of the consumption of video content and advertising. Finds more about more that it's less about the technology and more about the dynamics of the medium and then working on how to leverage those dynamics

Anita Elberse - prof at Harvard Business School, media entertainment - media and entertainment industries - invited here likely because of an article on the Long Tail and why it might not be correct

Anne White - VP of programming Premiere Retail Networks - met Henry at at 5D conference last month, in charge of visualizing the future of advertising for Minority Report, who and what should be advertised in the future and placing it into the film, multimedia and branding projects, putting video everywhere and annoying people by targeting it directly to them. creative, but very strategic,

Renee Ann Richardson - doctoral student at HBS, working on status and brand status and authenticity, looks at what happens when there are counterfeits. Previously worked in marketing and advertising at Leo Burnett and LVMH

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 1 -- Consumption, Value and Worth" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Opening Remarks

We're Liveblogging (with slight time delay) FOE again this year, to tide everyone over until the podcasts come out.

First up are Opening Remarks by Henry Jenkins, with a welcome from Jason Schupbach, Creative Economy Industry Director for the MA Governor's office.

Thanks to CMS grad student Flourish Klink for liveblogging this panel.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Opening Remarks" »

Live-tweeting Futures of Entertainment 3.

A quick note: people interested in following C3's Futures of Entertainment 3 conference in real time should hop on Twitter and follow There's a whole mess of current students, alums, consulting researchers, partners and interesting folks twittering away over there.

Those of you who are physically camped out here in the Bartos Theater at MIT with us, be sure to check out our setup for realtime feedback and questions at

November 18, 2008

Registration extended for Futures of Entertainment 3

Futures of Entertainment 3 is coming up this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21 & 22. There are still some tickets available for the event, so we've decided to keep registration open right the way through to Saturday. If you haven't registered yet, it's not too late.

One detail to note is that we have had to move the conference across campus to the Bartos Theater. Bartos is in the Wiesner building (where the Media Lab is located) and is where we have held the conference in the past.

We look forward to seeing you there.

November 16, 2008

Futures of Entertainment 3 - only a week out

So we're just a week out from our annual Futures of Entertainment conference and we're finishing up the final tweaks to the program. Even if we do say so ourselves, FoE 3 has drawn together a collection of provocative speakers from around industry and academia to discuss some of the most pressing development in our media landscape.

Friday's program focuses on questions about audiences, value, and social media, and includes a one-on-one conversation between C3 faculty investigator Henry Jenkins and Harvard Law and Berkman Center professor Yochai Benkler, whose groundbreaking book The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom (2006) won the Donald McGannon award for best book on social and ethical relevance in communications policy research and was named best business book about the future by Strategy & Business. Panel discussions will look at how to address the challenges and possibilities of the networked media space, with its many paradigm shifts around how we think about participation, production, and social engagement in the consumption and circulation of media.

Saturday's discussions focus on the spread and expansion of media across platforms, disciplines, and national borders. Panels will examine franchising and worldbuilding, the challenges of global distribution, and research practices at the intersection of industry and the academy. A particular feature of Saturday's program is a case study focussing on the upcoming Watchmen adaptation, featuring Henry Jenkins in conversation with Production Designer Alex McDowell and Alisa Perren of Georgia State University (see some of Alisa's previous discussion of the challenges of adapting comics to film here).

Tickets are still available for FoE, so head over to the site if you haven't already registered. Full program details under the fold.

Continue reading "Futures of Entertainment 3 - only a week out" »

November 12, 2008

Update: Peter Kim Speaking at MIT FoE3

MIT Futures of Entertainment 3 is now just a little more than a week away. For those who have not yet registered and who are interested in coming, registration information is available here, and the full program is available here.

I'm honored to be invited by those organizing the conference this year to moderate a discussion on the intersection of academia and the industry, and I'm fortunate to be joined by some intriguing panelists. From the academic world, John Caldwell from UCLA and Amanda Lotz from the University of Michigan (one of the Consortium's consulting researchers) will take part. Grant McCracken, another of C3's consulting researchers, will also join in. Grant is an independent academic, regularly publishing academic books, as well as a consultant.

They will be joined by Peter Kim from the Dachis Corporation.

Peter is part of the founding team at Dachis Corporation, a stealth mode startup focusing on social technology. Earlier, Peter was a senior analyst at Forrester Research focusing on social computing and customer-centric marketing. His professional experience also includes positions as head of global digital marketing for PUMA AG, strategy network at Razorfish and research analyst at Coopers & Lybrand. Peter has served as a keynote, moderator, and panelist at public events including the Advertising Research Foundation, American Marketing Association, and Direct Marketing Association. He has also been widely quoted on social technologies and marketing by the press, including CBS Evening News, CNBC, CNN, NPR, The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Peter holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. He currently resides in Boston and blogs here.

I'm looking forward to seeing several of you at FoE3 next week and hope many of the folks who joined us over the past two years will be back in Boston next weekend!

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

November 11, 2008

distributed collectivity: storytelling on twitter

In recent months, everyone has been abuzz about twitter fiction, from projects to broadcast Moby Dick, 140 characters at a time, to the recent collective re-enactment of the Orson Welles radio program War of the Worlds over Halloween, more and more people are looking at Twitter as a potential storytelling engine. This should come as little surprise. After all, we humans are narrative creatures. Storytelling is central to the construction and articulation of cultures, nations, social imaginaries, publics, counter-publics, relationships writ large and small. So it seems only logical that every new communication portal be tested for its narrative capacity.

Less interesting to me are the efforts to merely fragment narratives in 140-character chunks. As compelling as some of these projects are on an individual level, structurally they present a type of reformatting or, in some cases, adaptation. Though this has consequences on reception and the reading experience, it is not a radical reimagining of narrative structure. Distributed storytelling, on the other hand, draws together a number of different narrative traditions in a way that may, at least, provide a provocative way of thinking about narrative form.

Continue reading "distributed collectivity: storytelling on twitter" »

November 7, 2008

Kpop Goes Global (part 2): SM Global auditions and transnational fan culture

In my previous post on the SM Global auditions, I talked about the complications within the very idea of "global" in the contexts of national markets and the anxieties or tensions surrounding the what is meant by the "global" stage, especially when "globalization" is used not simply as a euphemism for westernization.

In this part, I would like to draw out another, perhaps related, component, which was the function of the SM Global auditions as a transnational fan space. Rather than functioning as straight talent gathering, the auditions in fact worked as a sort of fan-relations event that not only did not require the presence of celebrities, but also worked to direct fan energy from the individual artists towards the larger company brand as a whole, a critical strategy in the development of new artists.

Continue reading "Kpop Goes Global (part 2): SM Global auditions and transnational fan culture" »

November 4, 2008

My First Election: PBS Mediashift

As an Australian, my experience of the US political system has always been a mediated one. As such, this is the first US election I've ever experienced 'live', and what an election it has been; Regardless of the outcome, this has been a unique and significant campaign season for a number of reasons. As we've pointed out previously in discussions about election monitoring, campaigns and fandom, Facebook and campaign building, and politics in the age of YouTube, the 2008 campaign has seen unique, interesting and savvy uses new media tools, particularly social media and online video publishing for grassroots campaigning, campaign financing and connecting with constituencies.

These will be some of the things I'll reflect on this afternoon, when I participate in a live chat over at PBS' MediaShift site. At 4 pm EST/1 pm PT I'll be chatting about the election coverage and online media specifically with PBS blogger Mark Glaser and my old friend Alice Robison, Assistant Professor of English at ASU. Come on over if you'd like to join in. They've got a whole afternoon of discussion lined up.

Oh, and whichever way you fall, please do vote. And for the junkies out there, Twitter's election feed makes for interesting reading throughout the day.

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