November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving: Prime American Culture

The Consortium blog will be taking a hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope that everyone's annual cultural traditions (whether it's turkey or Chinese food) keep you warm!

Also of note, I've added a link to Frank Rose's reaction article after the Futures of Entertainment conference. You can read it back at our FoE4 Wrap-Up article.

See you next week.

November 24, 2009

Cultures of Resistance: Technology's Effects On and From the Iranian Election

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm planning to bring to the C3 blog a handful of presentations that have been given recently at MIT and Harvard.

Today's feature is a quick reflection on a talk I attended this afternoon at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. The presentation was titled #iranelection: The digital media response to the 2009 Iranian election, and was delivered by Cameran Ashraf (Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at California State University, Pomona) and Brett Solomon (recently Campaign Director at and Executive Director at The description from the Berkman Center's website follows:

The ability of social and digital media to play a crucial role in helping mass social movements coordinate and communicate effectively has been highlighted by the recent post-election unrest in Iran. Due to the borderless nature of digital communications, the resources available to many activists can now be global in scale and supported by virtually instantaneous communication. Some governments have taken notice of this borderless nature and the potential threat it poses. To limit communications within and with the outside world they have erected their own border in the form of firewalls, monitoring mechanisms and internet filtering systems.

With Iran as a case study, this presentation will explore the role new communication technologies are playing in the post-election unrest, how people outside of Iran are helping through digital media, and the Iranian government's efforts at maintaining its information border.

Working with existing projects and movements in the field, a new ongoing movement for digital freedom is forming (, rallying digital activists and ordinary online citizens around the world, to assist political freedom movements and civil society who are being shut out from their rights to information, political expression and assembly.

My short reaction and a link to the presentation video follow after the jump.

Continue reading "Cultures of Resistance: Technology's Effects On and From the Iranian Election" »

November 23, 2009

FoE4: Post-Conference Reactions

Well, the Futures of Entertainment conference finished up on Sunday, and after a day's worth of sleep -- and, oh boy, did the C3 team need a solid nap -- I can proudly announce that the weekend was an absolute success!

A heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone that traveled to Boston to attend! If you weren't able to drop by the MIT campus for our event, we're going to try to get those video recording up as soon as possible. In the meantime, though -- because the Internet is wonderful and full of rainbows and unicorns -- you can check out some of the liveblogging, reaction essays, and tweeting to get a handle on the dialogue that spread out over the course of our two days.

Rachel Clarke has done a wonderful job liveblogging the entire conference over at her blog, Licence to Roam. Check out the individual posts per each panel below:


Henry Jenkins - Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Key Principles of Transmedia Entertainment

Producing Transmedia Experiences: Stories in a Cross-Platform World

Changing Audiences, Changing Methodologies

Transmedia Design and Conceptualization - The Making of Purefold

Transmedia for Social Change


The ROI of ROFL: Why Understanding Popular Culture Should Matter to the C-Suite

Producing Transmedia Experiences: Participation & Play

Unboxing the Medium

Free? Contemporary Media Business Models

If you have any notes or reaction pieces that you would me to link on this page, feel free to drop me a message and the relevant URL(s) at

Also, if you want to follow the conversation that went on in our backchannels...

- Check out Twapper Keeper, which now holds a full aggregation of the #FoE4 hashtag. You can view everyone's tweets, arguments, and conference in-jokes (the best one, of course, being #thingsjackwakshlagsays) here.

- The archive of the FoE4 questions are still available on the original webpage. You can access each individual panel's questions here.

Myles McNutt has already taken advantage of the Twitter conversation by writing a couple of reaction essays over at his blog, Cultural Learnings. His overview is located here.


Frank Rose has composed his own reactions to the conference over at his blog, Deep Media. Given that he takes the perspective of our of our conference speakers, his article (viewable here) is worth the read.

Thanks again to everyone that attended, followed our conversations, and -- of course -- helped organize this amazing event! See you all next year!

November 21, 2009

Transmedia as Archontic texts: Multiplicity, Subjectivity, and Social Change

I meant to cross-post this yesterday, but got so caught up in the panels that it slipped my mind. This was originally posted at

Multiplicity has been transformed into quite the buzzword this morning. Henry featured the concept of multiple and conceptually-varied versions of popular franchises -- Indian versions of Spiderman, for instance, or the story told by Mary Jane -- as one of his 7 key concepts for transmedia. In short, re-imaginings or re-visions of existing texts that both challenge and compliment one another. In traditional media, the emphasis was on continuity and control, ensuring that stories maintained consistency through controlled authorship. In transmedia storytelling, however, the emphasis is on multiplicity, the emergence of multiple authors telling or re-tellings in order to build a rich, varied story world.

This ties into another of Henry's 7 concepts. Subjectivity. In short, transmedia provides the opportunity to tell stories from different viewpoints, to include in the narrative voices that are typically not heard. This notion is politically provocative, since it suggests transmedia's very narrative structures makes room for the production of unheard or background subjects and perspectives. In other words, it allows for the telling of stories and experience and character voices that would not otherwise be told.

Continue reading "Transmedia as Archontic texts: Multiplicity, Subjectivity, and Social Change" »

November 20, 2009

Futures of Entertainment 4


The Futures of Entertainment 4 conference, held this weekend at MIT, has been underway since this wonderful Friday morning, and it will continue on until tomorrow evening.

If you are not able to attend the conference in person this weekend, you can always follow the conversation on Twitter via the #FoE4 hashtag (direct link to the Twitter aggregation is here).

Also, if you love visual aesthetics, be sure to check out the Futures of Entertainment 4 photo Tumblr, put together by our excellent conference photographer, Vicky Zeamer.

In the near future, look forward to the videos of each panel presentation, a compilation of the Twitter conversation, and many reaction blog posts!

November 19, 2009

Free Public Lecture Tonight: Jeff Vandermeer on Transmedia

Jeff VanderMeer

In the Boston area tonight for Futures of Entertainment, or a C3-minded local who can't make it to the conference? This evening from 5-7, the novelist, anthologist and cross-media storyteller Jeff VanderMeer is giving a free, open-to-the-public talk as part of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Colloquium lecture series and the unofficial kickoff to Futures of Entertainment! The talk will last about 45 minutes, after which the anthologist, essayist, NPR commentator and CEO Kevin Smokler will lead the Q&A session.

Here’s the rundown:

Booklife: The Private and the Public in Transmedia Storytelling and Self-Promotion
Jeff VanderMeer with Kevin Smokler

Fictional experiments in emerging media like Twitter and Facebook are influencing traditional printed novels and stories in interesting ways, but another intriguing new narrative is also emerging: the rise of “artifacts” that, although they support a writer’s career, have their own intrinsic creative value. What are the benefits and dangers of a confusion between the private creativity and the public career elements of a writer’s life caused by new media and a proliferation of “open channels”? What protective measures must a writer take to preserve his or her “self” in this environment? In addition to the guerilla tactics implicit in storytelling through social media and other unconventional platforms, in what ways is a writer’s life now itself a story irrespective of intentional fictive storytelling? Examining these issues leads naturally to a discussion on the tension and cross-pollination between the private and public lives of writers in our transmedia age, including the strategies and tactics that best serve those who want to survive and flourish in this new environment. What are we losing in the emerging new paradigm, and what do we stand to gain?

A writer for the New York Times Book Review, Huffington Post, and Washington Post, Jeff VanderMeer is also the award-winning author of the metafictional City of Saints & Madmen, the noir fantasy Finch, and Booklife: Strategies & Survival Tips for 21st-Century Writers. His website can be found at

Kevin Smokler is the editor of Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times (Basic Books) which was a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2005. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fast Company and on National Public Radio. He lives in San Francisco, blogs for the Huffington Post and at, and is the CEO of

Presented in conjunction with Futures of Entertainment 4.

The event is, again, free and open to the public – registration for Futures of Entertainment is not required. It begins at 5 PM, runs until 7, and is going down at room 4-231 (building 4, room 231) on the MIT campus. Parking on-campus is a little wonky, but there are multiple parking garages around; a better bet is likely to take public transportation. The Red Line in Boston comes straight to Kendall Square, which is right on the edge of the MIT campus. The lecture location is only a few minutes’ walk from there.


Jeff is currently on tour supporting his new book Booklife, which he describes as “a unique writing guide to sustainable careers and sustainable creativity, the first to fully integrate discussion of the role of new media into topics that have always been of interest to writers”. I just finished reading my copy this afternoon and I can personally testify that it’s full of a wide range of great stuff. Jeff splits the book into two distinct sections, one on the author’s Public Booklife (marketing, PR, social interactions and other public engagements) and Private Booklife (the actions, philosophies, emotions and other internal struggles of the actual act of writing) and both halves - plus the appendices - are packed with thoughtful insights and useful advice. For example, how do writers deal with envy - and what does Francis Bacon have to say about that? To steal a line from an old tomato sauce commercial, “It’s in there!”

5 o’clock PM tonight, Thursday, November 19th, in room 4-231 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - I’ll see you there!

November 9, 2009

Practical Geographies: Understanding How Cultural Practices Shape Social Media Usage

For the past few months, I have been glad to work with a solid team of friends (and now, colleagues) over at the Web Ecology Project. Earlier this year, the dozen of us teamed up to see if we could research -- quantitatively and qualitatively -- online culture and the communities that shape it. However, what I've come to realize as the months have flown by is that what we're trying to study is in fact online cultures (plural) and how communities shape them.

Conveniently, the major trends of the Internet seem to have evolved in easy-to-remember decades. If we want to talk about the social history of the Web, popular definitions have already been laid over these decades: the '90s represent Web 1.0, while 2000 to present equates to Web 2.0. Obviously, these monikers are overgeneralizations of the actual directions in which Internet use has moved, and I will not even approach explanations of what they might mean. Instead, I want to ask: What are we looking at in the coming decade in Internet culture? Or, more generally, Where do you go to find cool, interesting things online?

Continue reading "Practical Geographies: Understanding How Cultural Practices Shape Social Media Usage" »

November 5, 2009

Confessions of an Aca-Fan Crosspost: Strange Overtures: Vodaphone, Tchaikovsky, Ernie Kovacs and the "Wowness" of New Media

Yesterday, Henry posted a new article to his blog, entitled Strange Overtures: Vodephone, Tchaikovsky, Ernie Kovacs and the "Wowness" of New Media, in which he takes a look at an interesting commercial by Vodaphone which utilizes a thousand cell phones to play Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Henry explains the convergence of new and old media with a straightforward argument: New media seeking to gain recognition often signal their cultural ambitions by drawing on works which we already respect from older media traditions. It's a good read, so we've reproduced the article after the cut below.

Also, as a reminder, the Consortium's own Joshua Green will be participating in a free webinar with Henry Jenkins (USC) and Sam Ford (Peppercom) tomorrow at 12:00 pm. Registration is free, and you can still sign up here.

Moving from "Sticky" to "Spreadable": The Antidote to "Viral Marketing" and the Broadcast Mentality

Based on years of researching how and why people spread news, popular culture, and marketing content online through the Convergence Culture Consortium for the past several years , our speakers are currently working on a book entitled Spreadable Media. This Webinar will look at what "spreadable media" means, why the concept of "stickiness" is inadequate for measuring success for brands and content producers online and ultimately why marketers and producers should spend more time creating "spreadable material" for audiences than trying to perfect "viral marketing." In this one-hour session, the speakers will share the ideas and strategy behind "spreadable media" and a variety of examples of best--and worst--practices online for both B2B and B2C campaigns.

This panel will address:

-- The concept of "stickiness" and why it cannot solely be used as a way to measure success online;
-- How and why viral marketing does not accurately describe how content spreads online;
-- Why a "broadcast mentality" does not work in a social media space;
-- The strategy companies should undertake when creating material for audiences to potentially spread online;
-- Companies that have learned difficult lessons and/or gotten the idea of "spreadable media" right;
-- Trends in popular culture/entertainment one which brands should keep a close eye;
-- How "spreadable media" might apply to B2B audiences.

Continue reading "Confessions of an Aca-Fan Crosspost: Strange Overtures: Vodaphone, Tchaikovsky, Ernie Kovacs and the "Wowness" of New Media" »

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