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.
Futures of Entertainment 3
Friday, November 21
8:30 AM - Registration opens - coffee is available
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM - Welcome, Jason Schupbach - Creative Economy Industry Director, Massachusetts Office of Business Development
9:15 AM - 10:00 AM - Opening Remarks, Professor Henry Jenkins, MIT
10:15 AM - 12:15 PM - Session 1: Consumption, Value and Worth
Where does value come from in the media evolving media landscape? In a medium rooted in the popularity of content, who or what is the source of media value? Does it lie in the properties themselves, or in what people do with these properties? Do creative companies create value or does value creation also occur on the consumption side, as audiences discover hidden potential in existing properties, make their own emotional and creative contributions to the mix, and spread the brand to new and previously unsolicited markets? Might we also see value as originating from those who simply sit and watch? "Attention" can be thought of as a core product produced by media companies - under advertiser-supported models, media properties attract audiences whose attention is sold to advertisers seeking to reach groups of people. While this is not always the case, the increasing significance of product placement suggests even goods sold directly to audiences are subsidized by the sale of their attention. Especially with the rapid emergence of user-created content, can we consider audiences participants in the creation of the value media properties hold? How do we account for the non-monetary value of media properties? How should gains from media value be distributed through the networks of creatives who collaborate in its production?
Panelists include: Rishi Dean - Vice President Product Strategy, Visible Measures; Anne White - VP Programming & Creative, PRN by Thomson; Anita Elberse - Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing unit at Harvard Business School; Renée Ann Richardson - Harvard Business School.
Moderator: Henry Jenkins, MIT
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM - Lunch
1:15 PM - 2:15 PM - Conversation: Wealth, Value, and Social Production
Henry Jenkins in conversation with Yochai Benkler - Harvard Law School, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Yale University Press)
2:30 PM - 4:30 PM - Session 2: Making Audiences Matter
Audiences seem to present a constantly moving target. Migratory, skilled at avoiding advertising, and increasingly looking like producers, working out who the audience is and what they are doing is an evolving challenge. How do we create better relationships with audiences who look less like "consumers"? In a media landscape that looks to increasingly value broad distribution over concentrating attention, how do we uncover audiences and connect them with content? What does an "engaged" audience look like, and how do you know when you've got one? What do you do once you've found one?
Panelists include: Kim Moses, Executive Producer, The Ghost Whisperer; Gail De Kosnik - UC Berkeley, The Survival of Soap Opera: Strategies for a Digital Age; Kevin Slavin, Area/Code; Vu Nguyen, VP of Business Development, crunchyroll.com.
Moderator: Joshua Green, MIT
4:45 PM - 6:45 PM - Session 3: Social Media
Moving lives online, creating conversations across geography, connecting with consumers - how is social media defining the current entertainment landscape? As people not only put more content online, but conduct more of their daily lives in networked spaces and via social networking sites, how are social media influencing how we think of audiences? Video-sharing platforms have changed how we think of production and distribution, and Facebook gifts point to the value of virtual properties, how are these sites enabling other processes of production or distribution practices. Spaces where commercial and community purposes intertwine, what are the implications for privacy, content management, and identity construction of social media? How have they impacted notions of civic engagement?
Panelists include: Joe Marchese, socialvibe.com; Amber Case, Hazelnut Consulting; Sabrina Caluori, Director, Marketing and Promotions, HBO Online; Kyle Ford, Director of Product Marketing, Ning; Rhonda K. Lowry, Vice President, Social Media Technologies, Office of the CTO, Turner Broadcasting
Moderator: Alice Marwick, NYU
7:00 PM - Reception - MIT Media Lab Weisner Bldg. - Lower Lobby Atrium
Saturday, November 22
9:30 AM - Registration opens - coffee is available
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Session 4: When Comics Converge: Making Watchmen
The last few years have seen a steady expansion of comic book creators, characters and audiences into a range of different mediums. Television programming to successful Hollywood franchises seem respectful (mostly) of the source material. The graphic novel and the short run series have burgeoned and been mainstreamed. Comic-con has expanded to a key event for the entertainment industry. Many established producers in other media are looking towards comics as a platform for creative expression or for extending their narratives (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and Supernatural, for instance.)
This session, a conversation between Henry Jenkins, Alisa Perren (Gerogia State University) and Alex McDowell (Production Designer, Watchmen), will explore the creative and industrial challenges of translating comics for the screen.
Participants: Alex McDowell, Production Designer, Watchmen; Alisa Perren, (Co-editor with Jennifer Holt) The Media Industry Studies Book (Blackwell Publishing), Georgia State University.
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM - Lunch
1:15 PM - 3:15 PM - Session 5: Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding
Media convergence has made the complex intertwining of multi-platform media properties more and more common-place, yet the creation of storyworlds that extend beyond a single text is not a recent development. With a history that includes sequels, spin-offs, and licensed products, what is the future for the media franchise? Is there a material difference between creating media franchises or transmedia properties? What is the role of television programs or films in anchoring wider narrative franchises, especially when they extend beyond media and into the "real world"? What is the significance of the creative individuals who contribute to franchises, including creatives, professionals, and fans?
Panelists include: Gregg Hale (Producer Seventh Moon and The Blair Witch Project); Lance Weiler (Director Head Trauma and The Last Broadcast); Sharon Ross - Columbia College Chicago Beyond the Box: Television and the Internet (Wiley-Blackwell); Tom Boland (Director of Interactive Marketing, World Wrestling Entertainment); Tom Casiello (Daytime Emmy Award-Winning former writer of As the World Turns, One Life to Live, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless).
Moderator: Ivan Askwith, Senior Strategist, Big Spaceship
3:30 - 5:30 PM: Session 6: At the Intersection of the Academy and the Industry
What are the challenges of bringing the academy and the industry together? How do we negotiate working across these two worlds?
Panelists include: Amanda Lotz, The Television Will be Revolutionized (NYU Press), University of Michigan; John Caldwell, Production Culture (Duke University Press), UCLA; Grant McCracken, Transformations: Identity Construction in Contemporary Culture (Indiana University Press), Peter Kim, Dachis Corporation.
Moderator: Sam Ford, Director of Customer Insights, Peppercom
5:45 PM - 7:45 PM - Session 7: Global Flows, Global Deals
The Internet has altered transnational media flows, making it easier to move content across national and geographic boundaries, but complicating the economic structures that support these flows. How do we manage global distribution in the current context? What is the impact of the Internet on the interactions between local audiences and globalised content? What is the role of international audiences as taste-makers, and what can that tell us about making content relevant to multiple local audiences? How do we balance international distribution windows with audiences who move content themselves?
Panelists include: Nancy Baym, Personal Connections in a Digital Age (Polity Press), University of Kansas; Robert Ferrari - Vice President of Business Development, Turbine Inc.; Maurício Mota, Director of Strategy and Business Development, New Content (Brazil).
Moderator: Xiaochang Li, MIT Convergence Culture Consortium.