February 25, 2010
February 24, 2010
More Events: Online Video, Giant Robots, and a Personal Talk About Japanese Popular Culture
Today, I'd like to call your attention to a number of interesting, upcoming events that fall into the topic of convergence culture.
February 22, 2010
C3 White Paper: More Than Money Can Buy: Locating Value in Spreadable Media
The next installment of our 2009 C3 white paper releases.
My white paper extends the work I began with If It Doesn't Spread, it's Dead in 2008. It digs deeper into how the social principles that shape the flow "free" goods and services online shape concepts of value.
Through theoretical analysis and practical case studies, the paper:
- Explains why "free" things aren't really free, and the social contracts that regulate these exchanges
- Outlines the key differences between socially-driven exchanges and market-driven ones, with an eye towards how to develop online monetization models that can bridge the two systems.
- Breaks down examples of best (and worst) practices
- Proposes general principles for understanding online communities and socially-motivated content creators, and how to build business models around their activities.
Let me know what you think in the comments or tweet @xiaochang.
February 19, 2010
"Killer Paragraphs" and Other Reflections of PBS's Digital Nation
Cross-posted from Confessions of an Aca-Fan: February 3, 2010
This week, PBS stations around the United States are airing Digital Nation, a documentary which claims to offer us insights into life in the digital age. I was happy to participate in this important production, though, I must confess, more than a little disappointed in the finished product. It raises important issues, to be sure, but does so often in a one-sided manner which panders to the biases of public television viewers rather than challenging them to look at the potentials of digital media in education through new lens.
What I value from the production is the website which gathers together extensive interviews with key thinkers with a range of views about the value of digital media in education and our everyday life and which has collected the voices of everyday people many of whom share stories of how they have built productive relationships with and through new media technologies and practices. The website allows us to chart our own paths through this debate, to drill much deeper into different points of view, and offers a more balanced picture of the current state of the debate. The website allows us to ask questions, while the television show tells us what to think. Granted it does so in a way that is much more subtle than the typical Fox News scare story, but it is hardly "fair and balanced" either.
The existence of the website with so much raw footage alongside the completed documentary offers a unique resource for teaching basic media literacy skills, allowing us to question the choices the filmmakers made, and how various rhetorical devices shape how we respond to the words and images included.
All of this points to discussions we should be having, including a consideration of the potentials and limits of multitasking and whether it is inherently linked to our relations to digital media (or rather an artifact of a much longer history of economic and social pressures which have resulted in a more demanding and fragmented lifestyle). My one comment included in the film centered around the ways that people throughout the 20th century saw their lives as disjointed, understood their eyes as pulled in many different directions, and worried about distractions, yet also developed strategies which allowed them to cope with these pressures.
February 17, 2010
C3 White Paper: It's (Not) the End of TV as We Know It
2009 C3 white papers are now available for download. Over the next few days, we'll be posting links to them here on the blog.
My white paper about online TV audiences is up first. The paper outlines strategies for understanding how viewership online complements broadcast viewing. Through research and case studies, this paper:
- Explains the strategies needed to manage viewer expectations of scarcity in the broadcast space and plenitude in the online space.
- Categorizes types of online content in terms of their appeal to viewers.
- Outlines strategies for appealing to different types of online viewers.
February 16, 2010
Points of Converging Interest
Although I tend to avoid doing posts that consist of only links, there has been so much good writing recently that I'd like to spend today on pointing out some of those publications!
Inside the Social Media Strategy of the Winter Olympic Games, by Craig Silverman (PBS MediaShift)
The PBS MediaShift blog takes a look at the integration of online audience engagement with the Olympic brand through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Michael Zimmer, executive committee member of the Association of Internet Researchers, gives his opinion on the ethical implications of Pete Warden's 215-million-user data set of public Facebook profiles.
The YouTube (R)evolution Turns 5, by Rachel Sadon (PCWorld)
PCWorld examines how YouTube has shaped our interaction with online video over the past five years.
The NBCOlympics.com User Experience: Not Likely to Win the Gold, by Liz Shannon Miller (NewTeeVee)
NewTeeVee provides a first-hand perspective from an attempt to watch the Winter Olympics online.
Multitaskers: More Viewers Watched Super Bowl, Surfed Net, by Wayne Friedman (MediaPost)
MediaPost analyes a set of interesting statistics from The Nielsen Company about how many people interacted with social networking sites during the Super Bowl.
Obligatory Google Buzz post, by Jean Burgess (co-author of YouTube: Online Video & Participatory Culture)
Jean Burgess produces her own review of the criticism on Google Buzz's privacy issues evolving on the Association of Internet Researchers mailing list.
And, finally, enjoy (or be surprised at) this video:
What is a Browser?
A representative from Google asks 50 strangers in Times Square if they understand what a browser is and does? Given that most of the online hype around Internet development addresses early adopters, here's a look at how the general public perceives the Internet. The results: Less than 8% of those interviewed knew what a browser was.
February 12, 2010
Affect, Effect, and Context: more thoughts on Google's superbowl ad
[This piece was original posted at canarytrap.net]
Much has been said about Google's Parisian Love superbowl ad in the last week, much of it ranging from positive to gushing adoration. I was no exception, discussing the way google demonstrated its understanding of the culture of seeking. My last post focused on the content of the ad, which was lovely, but content doesn't exist in a vacuum. A quotation from Ian Schafer, and my consequent discussion with him on twitter, inspired me to write a follow-up that looks at the ad in context.
February 11, 2010
Modern Love: what Google's Superbowl ad teaches us about understanding culture
[This piece was originally posted at canarytrap.net]
Sunday night, to the praise of advertising and marketing professionals and all those who fall under Alterian's Social Engagement Index. I was preoccupied with making sure the make-shift stadium seating in my loft wasn't in danger of collapsing to catch it during the game, but the next morning I watched it on YouTube. Then I watched it again.
Google's Parisian Love is everything that people have been saying: remarkable in potency of its message and the simplicity of its delivery, startlingly efficient in conveying a multitude of themes and features, and narratively delightful. But it is also a beautifully concise argument for the need to understand culture -- and not just trends and technologies -- in advertising.
Trends are surface patterns that can be viewed from a distance. Culture is the all the reasons underneath them, the complex structures and formations on the ocean floor shaped from countless years of symbolic debris and sediment that dictate which way the waves go. Identifying trends is just the first (and crucial) step towards understanding culture.
February 10, 2010
Say iWant a Revolution: Two Ways for Apple to Crack the Small Screen
Last week I posted about why Apple hasn't been able to revolutionize the television business. Alex then chimed in with a post about Apple's iPad representing a shift toward entertainment in the consumer electronics sector. Apple's plan seems to be a contradiction in terms: they're an increasingly entertainment-focused company that hasn't made an impact on the most popular entertainment of all--TV. In this post, I'll explore two tactics Apple could use to aggressively enter the television market. Steve Jobs himself has said that Apple TV is just a "hobby," so maybe he's looking for suggestions.
February 9, 2010
Streaming Sports: Superbowls, Olympics, and Online Video
If you live in America, you probably did not miss out on the constant chatter about the Superbowl this past weekend, whether you were paying attention to the football or the commercials. Nevertheless, you might not have watched the actual event -- like myself, who was on a bus from New York to Boston throughout the duration of the pre-, in-, and post-game periods. However, I followed the by-the-moment hype of the sport and the advertisements on my phone's Twitter client, and the morning after I caught up on the game highlights and commercials (rated and organized by social media addicts via services like BrandBowl 2010).
Even though the Bowl lasted at least 4 hours, I feel like I didn't miss much after spending about 40 minutes rewatching -- for no fee -- game highlights and the Bowl's funnier commercials. Watching this content via the Web is not something I could have done a few years ago. The potentials of online video have created an environment in which I don't need to own a television. I can simply flip to NFL.com to watch a 10-minute recap of the best plays while spending the time it takes to wait through NFL.com's ads watching the previous day's commercials on Hulu's 2010 AdZone. I can even jump over to the Discovery Channel's website to watch the annual Puppy Bowl.
However, I still need to own a television set to watch everything. What gives? I thought this was the Age of the Internet, where all content would be beamed to my computer screen through my Apple TV (no, I don't actually own one). The situation for most television shows at the moment is that I can see most episodes online at some point in time, until they are removed (producers need to make some money off DVD sales, and online ad revenues are still nowhere comparable to those of television ads). But sports events are pretty hard to come by for free online. Occasionally we will find a hub of clips (eg., NFL.com), or we can subscribe to a subscription service which grants access to high-quality streams (eg., MLB.com).
Why? Well, while most networks are feeling the heat, sports are still bringing in all the viewers.
February 8, 2010
The Last Airbender or The Last Straw?, or How Loraine Became a Fan Activist
This is another installment in our ongoing series about fan-activism and the ways certain kinds of groups are bridging between our experiences with interest-driven networks in participatory culture and public participation. This chapter tells the story of Loraine Sammy and the Racebender campaign, which challenged the white-washed casting of the feature film version of The Last Airbender. Thanks to the production chops of Anna Van Someren, we are able to share much of Sammy's story in her own words, so do take time to watch the video segments attached to this piece.
As I have been working with Van Someren and Shesthova, two members of our research team, to prepare this piece for publication, I am reminded of work I did more than a decade ago around the Gaylaxians, a gay-lesbian-bi-trans science fiction fan group which made a concerted effort to get a sympathetic queer character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The campaign failed in the short run in that the producers ultimately deflected or misdirected their requests, continually rephrasing them into how Star Trek might deal with the "issue" of gay rights, while the group wanted to show a future where being gay was not an issue. I am struck now by the growing number of science fiction series, British and American, which have matter of fact portrayals of same sex relationships, including Battlestar Galactica (whose show runner Ron Moore cut his teeth working on the Star Trek franchise.) I've never seen any one directly trace these shifts in the representation of sexuality in science fiction back to the Gaylaxians, but I have a sense that in the end, the campaign had some impact on our culture, even when its initial goal was lost. I hope the same can be said for the efforts of the Racebending efforts -- they have lost the battle but will they win the war? (For more on the Gaylaxians, see Science Fiction Audiences or Fans, Bloggers and Gamers.)
Our connection to Racebending and Loraine Sammy came through a member of the research group Lori Kido Lopez, a doctoral student at Annenberg.... who is including Racebending in her Ph.D. research.
February 5, 2010
The Appeal to Consumer Audiences: Apple's iPad as Shift Toward Entertainment
In yesterday's blog post, Why Apple Hasn't Revolutionized TV (Yet), Sheila wrote:
We've come to expect an exciting kind of innovation from Apple. Apple doesn't give us the newest technology--there were MP3 players before the iPod and smart phones before the iPhone. Apple's true revolutions come in the form of innovative digital business models. The iTunes store changed the way we think about buying music and the App Store made cell phones into anything a third party developer could imagine and create.
I want to talk briefly today about the iPad, but the real content of this article will be how Apple's campaigns are not changing the industry but instead consumer culture. Leading up to Apple's announcement, a lot of expectations seemed to be that the company would present a product that fulfilled a computer user's wildest dreams. The reality, of course, ended up being a touchscreen tablet based on the iPhone's operating system, which promotes the operation of applications ("apps"), small constructed platforms to run specific tasks or services.
The app environment presents the consumer with a much different interface which evades the "general purpose, do-it-all" nature of ordinary computers. The do-anything practice of what Steven Frank calls "Old World" computer practices, which contrast with the new world of "task-centric" practices, from checking email to browsing YouTube videos.
Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain has argued against the closed model of the iPhone and has recently expanded his argument to match the case of the iPad, but it seems unlikely that the audience toward whom the iPhone and iPad are targeted will be concerned. These two pieces of technology are consumer-oriented products, and they embody a shift toward entertainment technology overtaking the market of general computing.
February 4, 2010
Why Apple Hasn't Revolutionized TV (Yet)
When Steve Jobs announced Apple's iPad last week, talk of revolution was in the air. The jury's still out on whether the iPad will change the publishing industry or even pose a threat to Amazon's popular Kindle e-Reader. (For a great analysis of the iPad, check out this Ad Age article from C3's own Ilya Vedrashko.) We've come to expect an exciting kind of innovation from Apple. Apple doesn't give us the newest technology--there were MP3 players before the iPod and smart phones before the iPhone. Apple's true revolutions come in the form of innovative digital business models. The iTunes store changed the way we think about buying music and the App Store made cell phones into anything a third party developer could imagine and create. As someone who studies and writes about the television industry, I think it's valuable to think about why Apple hasn't been able to similarly revolutionize the television business. Sure, selling shows in the iTunes store has brought in some revenue for TV networks. But if Apple (or any other over-the-top connected device manufacturer) changes TV it will be in spite of--and not because of--the television industry.
February 2, 2010
Memes as Mechanisms: How Digital Subculture Informs the Real World
In the last week of January, an interesting conversational thread broke out on the Association of Internet Researchers mailing list regarding a video about scholarship in the "critical commons," on the debate between digital humanities and media studies. The video follows below, but judging by the preview image it might not be exactly what you expect:
Professor Charles Ess reacted to the video, writing:
How profoundly disappointing, if not on the edge of insulting. If (a) you know German reasonably well, and especially if (b) you've seen the terrific film, Der Untergang, that is ripped off here - it doesn't strike me as funny at all. (emphasis mine)
Jeremy Hunsinger, who had circulated the video to the mailing list, responded:
It is actually just a spin off of a meme that uses this clip from that movie, there are probably 30 or so different re-texts and mashups i've seen of this clip. The joke, i think, of the meme is that it never ever comes close to the German, nor is it ever supposed to, nor is the content really supposed to be evil or really related to the clip, it is a play of contrasts and a play of hyperbole. I think you hit it on the head, it is supposed to be contrary to intentions, that's sort of its point. ... however, i'm pretty sure that neither german, nor evil is supposed to be the point here. (emphasis mine)
Before elucidating the above situation (the entire thread of which can be viewed in the AoIR archives here), I want to take a step back to examine the idea of "meme" -- a unit of cultural information -- once more.
February 1, 2010
Will New Law Block Many Slash, Anime, Manga Sites in Australia?
The following guest blog post came about as a result of some e-mail correspondence with Australian researcher Mark McLelland, who described to me some significant shifts in media policy in his home country, Australia, which we both felt should be better understood not only by fans there but around the world. Certainly, the issues around this new internet filter policy have cropped up in many other parts of the world and serve as a helpful reminder that fans need to understand how local, national, and international laws may impact their fan writing practices -- especially those writing and circulating controversial or risky stories. The issues raised here are important ones, especially in the context of an increasingly globalized fan culture.
(Mark McLelland's article continues after the jump.)