As everyone is racing towards the spring 2010 completion of their theses and dissertations, this evening felt like a 'better late than never' time to feature this interesting back issue of Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture (aka PopComm) dedicated to Latin American Convergence. Who knows: one of these articles may have that one point of view, insight, critical argument and/or citation which newly inspires as the Spring term comes to a close in the next few weeks.
C3 Consulting Researcher Jonathan Gray first informed the C3 Team here in Cambridge of the release of the issue (Volume 7, No. 3) back in August 2009 - but we were in a bit of a C3 White Paper delivery haze at the time and did not get a chance to feature the issue on this blog (I also see that C3 Consulting Researcher C. Lee Harrington, Jason Mittell, Amanda Lotz and Prof. Jenkins are all listed on the Editorial Board Masthead of PopComm).
Following is the press release from Summer 2009 - as well as a table of contents of the special issue and links to PopComm:
Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture is excited to announce the publication of a special issue on Digital Convergence in Latin America (Volume 7, No. 3) featuring articles by Nestor Garcia Canclini, Jesus Martin Barbero, Jose Cabrera Paz, Ana Maria Ochoa and Carolina Botero, Raul Trejo Delarbre and our guest editor Rosalia Winocur of Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico.
The issue offers an outstanding collection of articles on the phenomenon of convergence in the Latin American continent, and on its cultural and social consequences.
We are excited about having been able to translate five of the six articles from Spanish, thereby overcoming the linguistic barrier that often impedes the wider discussion and examination of Latin American experiences of and with digital convergence.
Guest Editor's Introduction
"New Intersections for Thinking About Digital Convergence in the Critical Fields of Culture, Communication, and Regulation in Latin America"
"Techno-Cultural Convergence: Wanting to Say Everything, Wanting to Watch Everything"
Jose Cabrera Paz
"How Digital Convergence is Changing Cultural Theory"
Nestor Garcia Canclini
"Digital Convergence in Cultural Communication"
Jesus Martin Barbero
"Notes on Practices of Musical Exchange in Colombia"
Ana Maria Ochoa and Carolina Botero
"Digital Television: Options and Decisions in Latin America"
Raul Trejo Delarbre
"Digital Convergence as the Symbolic Medium of New Practices and Meanings in Young People's Lives"
Popular Communication is the official journal of the Popular Communication Division of the International Communication Association and electronic access is free to all members of the Division via the ICA website (existing members access the journal by logging on to http://www.icahdq.org/login.asp and selecting "Publisher Discounts"). Annual Division membership is $8. If you would like to join ICA and/or the Popular Communication Division, please visit www.icahdq.org.
For further information on Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture and to purchase electronic access for non-subscribers, please visit http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/hppc.
You can also contact the editorial team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few weeks ago, I sat down for a conversation with Steven Lisberger, director of the original Tron, to discuss our shared passions for science fiction cinema and transmedia entertainment. Mike Bonifer organized the meeting, filmed the exchange, and edited the footage. He has gradually been rolling it out in short three to four minute chunks via YouTube ever since.
I have to say that it was thrilling to me to meet Lisberger -- having long admired how far forward the thinking behind Tron had been about the directions games and digital culture might take. In the first few installments of this conversation, Lisberger shares with me some of his experiences in making Tron and also considers the current project to re-engage with these characters, their world, and their stories for the next generation. In case you've missed the news, a new Tron movie is going to hit the theaters later this year, and we are already seeing a fair amount of buzz build around it.
Continue reading "Talking TronsMedia with Steven Lisberger" »
This is the fourth installment in a series on TV retransmission fees. Previous installments focused on introducing the series, PR and television audiences, and regulation. In brief Disney, WABC's parent company demanded a per-subscriber retransmission fee from New York area cable provider, Cablevision. Cablevision thought the fee was too much. A messy public battle ensued and WABC disappeared from Cablevision at midnight on Sunday, March 7, night before the Oscars. If you want to learn more about retrans in general, check out this great article from Broadcasting & Cable.
The latest public battles over retransmission consent are a clear indication that television business models are becoming increasingly unstable. Retrans has always been an easy way for national networks to get things they want--like carriage for their cable stations, but until recently, retransmission fees were not part of national networks' business models for owned and operated (O&O) local stations. So, what's changed? Business models are up in the air because of digital distribution, network culture, and new players--like Google--entering the TV market. This is scary and some bad things could happen:
- Hulu, cord cutters, and piracy will ruin the TV industry.
- The economy and declining ad revenues will ruin the TV industry.
- The ratings industry's failure to measure digital audiences will ruin the TV industry.
This is all to say that networks know they're leaving money on the digital table, as it were. While they're scrambling to adapt their business models, it's easy to grab some low hanging fruit and collect a few extra million in retransmission fees.
Continue reading "Why We Should Care About Retrans: Conclusion" »
If you are interested in Lost, The Simpsons, The Daily Show, Star Wars, Fan Studies, or Transmedia Entertainment and you are not reading the work of Jonathan Gray, then you aren't doing it right! And let's face it, if you weren't interested in at least one of the above, then you probably have simply stumbled onto my blog by mistake.
Given that I am interested in all of the above, I keep stumbling onto Gray's work and each time I do, I come away a little better educated than I did before. Gray has got to be one of the most productive -- and provocative -- writers working in media studies today. This guy really is an extratextual! And he's someone I'm finding myself working with more and more. He's a member of the Convergence Culture Consortium network of scholars; he's edited several books where my essays have appeared; and he's been working behind the scenes to help pull together our Transmedia, Hollywood events this month. And he's now teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I did my PhD.
So, it's a pleasure to share this interview with you. The first installment covers everything from his recent work on parody, popular culture, and politics to his long-standing interest in fans and anti-fans. Mostly, Part Two focuses around his significant new book, Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts (NYU Press, 2010). I wrote a blurb for this book, so I got to read it months ago, but it is just now hitting the shelves and starting to have a real impact on how we theorize and criticize everything from movie trailers to action figures.
Continue reading "On Anti-Fans and Paratexts: An Interview with Jonathan Gray" »
This is the third installment in a series on TV retransmission fees. The introduction and first installment ran last week. In brief Disney, WABC's parent company demanded a per-subscriber retransmission fee from New York area cable provider, Cablevision. Cablevision thought the fee was too much. A messy public battle ensued and WABC disappeared from Cablevision at midnight on Sunday, March 7, night before the Oscars. If you want to learn more about retrans in general, check out this great article from Broadcasting & Cable.
Battles over retransmission consent are happening because federal regulations give broadcast TV stations the right to negotiate with cable providers for carriage. Must-carry and retrans are among those sticky legal issues--like copyright-- that were meant to protect individual, but have come in the digital age to be used as a tool against consumers.
There's some explanation required here. I'll try to make it as brief as possible and get to the good stuff.
Brief history of Must-Carry and Retransmission Regulations
- "Must-Carry" regulations were first created in the 1970s to help smaller broadcasters survive against as cable TV came on the scene. These regulations made it mandatory for cable operators to dedicate channels for most major over-the-air stations in their designated market area (DMA).
- The Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 addressed must carry laws, allowing cable operators to drop redundant signals in their DMA. For example, cable providers wouldn't be required to carry two NBC affiliate stations in the same DMA.
- In 1994, The FCC added the concept of "retransmission consent" to the mix. This meant that broadcasters had to agree to be carried by cable providers. This gave broadcasters the power to negotiate with cable providers.
- Must-carry regulations have been challenged several times at the Supreme Court level, but they've been upheld.
- The transition to digital television distribution hasn't had much of a consumer-facing effect on must-carry or retrans regulation.
Must-carry laws and retrans consent are two federal regulations that were originally created to protect small television broadcasters. While these laws still protect small broadcasters, they've also given more power to national networks and large holding companies.
This is because broadcast networks are owned by different entities in different markets across the country. Some stations are considered owned and operated (O&O) by national networks. This means that the stations are um... owned and operated by the national networks. Currently, O&Os are allowed to reach only 39% of the country. The remainder of the US is served by network affiliates, stations owned by independent parties who negotiate with national networks for programming.
The market isn't the same as it was when these regulations were passed. These regulations were created to level the playing field for stations and cable providers, but the balance of power has shifted toward networks for several reasons.
Continue reading "Why We Should Care About Retrans Part III: Regulation" »
So, I was unfortunate enough to have to miss Transmedia, Hollywood: S/Telling the Story, which happened a week from today, but I swear we were hard at work last Tuesday here at the Consortium!
Anyway, if you were like me and had to miss this event, here's the description:
Transmedia, Hollywood: S/Telling the Story is a one-day public symposium exploring the role of transmedia franchises in today's entertainment industries. Transmedia, Hollywood turns the spotlight on media creators, producers and executives and places them in critical dialogue with top researchers from across a wide spectrum of film, media and cultural studies to provide an interdisciplinary summit for the free interchange of insights about how transmedia works and what it means.
Co-hosted by Denise Mann and Henry Jenkins, from UCLA and USC, two of the most prominent film schools and research centers in Los Angeles, Transmedia, Hollywood will take place Tuesday, March 16, 2010, on the eve of the annual Society of Cinema & Media Studies conference, the field's most distinguished gathering of film and media scholars and academics (March 17--21, 2010) in Los Angeles.
Now, it's becoming more and more common to attend conferences and other events virtually (like I did last week with South by Southwest, utilizing the #sxsw hashtag on Twitter). Putting confidence on your "fellow" physical attendees, you can sit back while they tweet all the important or interesting information for you to enjoy from your desk at work or dinner table at home. And given that most conferences don't record their panels in video form (unlike some events such as Futures of Entertainment 4 or ROFLcon), Twitter has been a convenient way to glean content.
Mimi Ito (@mizuko) set up an archive via TwapperKeeper for the Transmedia Hollywood tweets, from which I compiled a public spreadsheet (after deleting irrelevant tweets that were also picked up) for everyone to read and/or search to see what went down at the event last week.
You can access the spreadsheet here.
If you're new to looking at archives of Twitter messages in table form, I recommend Google's Chrome browser, which uses a new highlighting feature when you search for terms. Have fun!
We'll also be featuring a few articles related to topics that came up during the conference. Check them out here soon!
Several years ago, I met a remarkable young man named Lucifer Chu in Shanghai. Chu had been the person who first translated the works of J.R.R. Tolkien into Chinese, after a considerable push to convince publishers that there was a market for fantasy and science fiction in China. He took the proceeds from the sales of the Lord of the Rings to launch a fantasy foundation, which promoted fantastical literature in Taiwan and mainland China, and he translated more than 30 fantasy novels for the Chinese market. As of a few years ago, almost all of the fantasy novels and role playing games available in Taiwan were translated by Chu and he was making in roads into getting these same works published for the mainland. He argued that the fantastic played crucial roles in Chinese folk and literary traditions but the genre had largely been eradicated there as a consequence of Maoist policies during the Cultural Revolution which promoted socialist realism and saw fantasy as western and decadent. Chu argued that bringing fantasy literature back into China was a way of helping his people rediscover their dreams and reimagine their future.
As I have been speaking with my USC student Lifang He about her work on the fan cultures which have quickly grown up around Avatar in China, I've wondered what connections, if any, exist between these two efforts to promote the fantastical imagination in that country. Are the young men and women we read about here the offspring of Chu's efforts? Are they connecting with western fan culture on line? This piece offers us some tantalizing glimpses into the many different ways Chinese fans have mobilized around and fantasized about James Cameron's blockbuster.
The American press has been following the commercial success of Avatar in China primarily as a business issue -- exploring what it might tell us about other opportunities for selling media in this country, using it to shadow Google's turmoil in the country, and marginally exploring why China was pushing the film from many of the nation's movie theaters. Yet, this piece takes us inside the world of Chinese Avatar fans, helping us to better understand what the film looks like from their perspective.
Continue reading "What the Chinese Are Making of Avatar" »
In case you missed it, the Oscars were on March 7. The show was pretty good, but there weren't many surprises (except Ben Stiller dressed as one of the Navi from Avatar .) As a TV geek, the Oscar races were almost upstaged by a way more interesting battle going on between WABC--the local ABC station in New York--and cable provider, Cablevision. WABC and Cablevision were stuck in negotiations about retransmission fees, and when they couldn't reach an agreement, WABC pulled its station from Cablevision's lineup. The result: you may have missed The Oscars--or at least the first few minutes of the telecast--if you were among Cablevision's 3 million subscribers in the greater New York City metropolitan area.
So, what are retransmission fees? The 1992 Cable Act allows local broadcasters to negotiate carriage contracts with cable operators every three years. Broadcasters can either demand that the cable operator "must carry" their station or they can negotiate for a per-subscriber fee from the cable operators--this fee is knows as a retransmission fee. If broadcasters demand a retrans fee and cable operators don't agree to it, broadcasters can pull their station from the cable operator's lineup. That's what happened in the case of WABC. Disney, WABC's parent company demanded a retrans fee from Cablevision. Cablevision thought the fee was too much. A really messy public battle ensued and WABC disappeared from Cablevision at midnight on Sunday, March 7, the night before the Oscars. Right before it went black, WABC aired a message reading, "Cablevision has betrayed you again."
Continue reading "Why We Should Care about Retrans: Introduction" »
From time to time, I use this space to showcase the global dimensions of the kinds of participatory culture which so often concern us here. When I first started to write about fan culture, for example, the circuit along which fan produced works traveled did not extend much beyond the borders of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and perhaps Australia. American fans knew little about fan culture in other parts of the world and indeed, there was often speculation about why fandom was such a distinctly American phenomenon.
Now, fans online connect with others all over the world, often responding in real time to the same texts, conspiring to spread compelling media content from one culture to the other, and we are seeing a corresponding globalization of fan studies. Yet, some countries remain largely outside of field of view, because of language barriers, cultural differences, political policies, and alternative tech platforms.
Consequently, most of us know very little about how fan production practices have spread to China -- which is too often described in terms of its piracy of American content and too little discussed in terms of its creative repurposing of that content to reflect their own cultural interests. So, I am really excited over these next two installments to share some glimpses into fan culture in China -- specifically focusing on the vidding community there (but also discussing other forms of fan participation.)
These two posts were created by Lifang He, an Annenberg student who took my transmedia entertainment class in the fall and who is doing an independent study with me this term to expand her understanding of the concept of participatory culture. Here, she talks about how Kung Fu Panda got read in relation to the economic crisis in China, and next time, she will tackle the array of different fan responses to Avatar.
Continue reading "Vidding Kung Fu Panda in China" »
Back in January, Sheila wrote a solid post about the Conan O'Brien v. Jay Leno controversy taking place on NBC. Her third point, about the rallying of fans behind Conan, known as the "Team Coco" movement, has interestingly taken a turn for the best: Conan will be touring the States and putting on live events for his newly-optimistic fanbase.
The Facebook group acted as a space for anti-fan (Leno) and fan activity, even spurring massive rallies in major cities across America.
The fan support has been so astounding that Conan O'Brien teamed up with American Express to produce live shows in thirty cities across the country, which Conan is calling "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" (the details of which can be viewed at http://teamcoco.com/).
Fan support for media or celebrities is not a new phenomenon: it's one of many examples of engagement that has produced beneficial results for television series, movies, etc. (such as Firefly, which saw a DVD release and a movie, Serenity, after the show's cancellation on FOX).
But Team Coco, having increased in size due to rapid communication platforms like Twitter and Facebook, seems to be the first that achieved results in such a short period of time. Will this expeditious trend continue with other fandoms as the Internet slowly connects people with similar interests online? And will we see similar trends with future examples of civic engagement and fan activism?
With the uneven future of the music industry and its models, I've become really interested in exploring the potential that music has by integrating these old tactics into transmedia storytelling and cross-platform distribution frameworks.
Previously, I've gushed about how the hit television show Glee has experimented with these methods with respectable success. The Glee model takes advantage of the ease of cross-platform distribution as a business model; however, it's a bit difficult to discuss the transmedia storytelling elements of its story. In my Glee article, I attempted to speak to the idea of affective economics, "which seeks to understand the emotional underpinnings of consumer decision-making as a driving force behind viewing and purchasing decisions" (Henry Jenkins, in Convergence Culture). Glee's story extends beyond its original narrative when expressed by its consumers and especially its fans, by understanding characters better through playing their songs, or by performing favorite dance routines.
Unfortunately, what I can't argue is that the producers of Glee have themselves extended the story across mediums. In response to this basic fact, I've been trying to look for the appearance of other types of stories that span multiple forms of media. Today, I want to discuss the band OK Go and how the story of not the songs but the band has succeeded in with a transmedia model.
And now the story continues... On Wednesday, OK Go announced that they will be leaving EMI to set up their own independent label.
Continue reading "The Transmedia Potential of Music Videos, Part 1: The Band" »
If you aren't a big Hulu watcher or hadn't caught wind of this experiment, Hulu has been trying out a new method of online television: it's own _______ series.
I put an underline in my introductory statement, because I hesitate to call it a "television" show. There is a certain distinction to be made between multiple forms of online video, which can be uploaded, hosted, or sponsored television content, or entirely original Internet-based content. Hulu has originally been a portal for content of the first variety: a streamlined user interface for hosting television shows online, closely monitored by actual television networks, to which the ad revenue from the site returns.
With regards to other content, Hulu has hosted not-quite-American-television, such as Japanese animation (though most is available on DVD or official streaming websites). However, the website has never hosted Hulu-specific content... until recently.
More on Hulu's original series "If I Can Dream" after the jump...
Continue reading ""If I Can Dream"... I'd Dream of Different Television" »
Today, the popular Japanese animation streaming portal, Crunchyroll, announced:
As Crunchyroll continues to evolve, we add new features and remove ones that don't perform well. Recently we've made a decision to discontinue our Download-to-Own service, which lets users purchase DRM-free, downloadable videos of our popular shows. We believe online streaming video is the future will continue to focus on those efforts. Starting March 31, 2010, no new purchases of video downloads will be allowed. However, your existing downloads will continue to work until May 1, 2010. Please download and save your video files by May 1, 2010.
As an alternative, we offer high quality, ad-free streams through our Premium Membership service. It offers over 50% of currently airing Anime titles in Japan and thousands of catalog episodes for as little as $5/month.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact email@example.com.
As a major portal for the community around Japanese animation, Crunchyroll has made a decision that reflects the current trends and behaviors of online television.
Continue reading "The Changing Culture of Online Television: Crunchyroll.com" »
The third installment of our 2009 C3 white paper releases. This white paper was penned by Ana Domb Krauskopf.
Tacky and Proud: Exploring Tecnobrega's Value Network
This paper explores the role of audiences as productive actors in the music industry and uses the value network as an analytical tool to facilitate the process of locating audience involvement and specifying the audience's role as creators of economic and symbolic value. Our main case study in this white paper is Tecnobrega ("Cheesy Techno"), a grassroots Brazilian music industry found in Belem (the capital city of Para, a northern state of Brazil). Tecnobrega evolved outside mainstream media, yet it became a successful music scene thanks to its innovative forms of production, distribution, promotion, and its strong relationship with audiences. Tecnobrega has also benefited from increasing widespread internet access throughout Brazil.
Download the executive summary or the entire paper.
A sequel to the smash hit PC video game, Portal, is coming in 2010. Portal, produced by Valve, was released in 2007 in The Orange Box, for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. The unique gameplay and interaction with the game's environment brought Portal to immediate popularity among gaming communities.
Over the past week or so, Valve took an interesting transmedial approach to announce Portal 2.
Continue reading "Innovating the Medium for Transmedia: The Case Study of Valve's "Portal"" »
The Oscars are on ABC this Sunday. I love award shows, I love complaining about award shows, and I love blogging about award shows. In the past, I've written a few diatribes about why TV networks and award-giving entities should make shows as participatory as possible, but this time, I think ABC and the Academy have tried very hard to create a strong social media presence. We'll see how it works out during the ceremony. And for the record, I'm still not sure if you'll be able to watch the entire Oscar telecast online, but you can catch the red carpet.
In case you're still ambivalent about the fashion, fabulousness, and boredom that is the Oscars, here are my top five reasons to watch the Oscars this year.
Continue reading "5 Reasons to Watch The Oscars" »
This week, I am sharing a piece from the historic archives of the Aca-Fan world: an exchange between Camille Bacon-Smith and myself at Gaylaxicon 1992. You should know that both Enterprising Women and Textual Poachers were very new books at the time this exchange took place, having appeared just a few months apart, and that the fan world was still trying to process what it meant to be the object of academic study. I would later, in fact, write an essay on the Gaylaxians themselves which appeared in my book (written with John Tulloch), Science Fiction Audiences, and was reprinted in an edited form in Fans, Bloggers and Gamers. I am hoping that these documents may be a source of nostalgia for some and a historical resource for others. In this segment, the two authors introduce themselves, their relations to fandom, and the central arguments of their books, and then instantly get pulled into a discussion of copyright and authorial rights, issues never far from the surface when fandom is concerned.
Transcript of a panel discussion between Henry Jenkins and Camille Bacon-Smith, moderated by Shoshanna, at Gaylaxicon 92, a science fiction convention by and for gay fandom and its friends, on 18 July 1992. At that time Henry was about to publish Textual poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (Routledge, 1992); Camille had published Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and Popular Culture (U. of Penn. Press, 1992). Shoshanna is a fan. All fans identified here are identified with the name/pseud they requested.
Continue reading "Henry Jenkins and Camille Bacon-Smith at Gaylaxicon 1992" »
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Over the weekend, a rigorously fashion-forward friend of mine sent me a slightly perplexing message: "go bug social suicide on twitter so I can buy a couple of suits." Not being an avid follower of men's fashion, I wasn't familiar with the London-based retailer of immaculately hand-tailored menswear with provocative detailing.
What drew me to this wasn't just their whimsical naming schemes (though they certainly don't hurt), but their latest social media promotion for their winter sale. As a follow-up to their Winter 09 "Dictators of Fashion" line (with suits like Kalashnikov's Rifle and Mussolini's Turncoat), Social Suicide launched the "Dictator's Discount". The premise is fairly simple -- the general public will dictate the percentage of the sale markdowns in both the online and brick&mortar store by how much buzz they generate. The more twitter mentions, facebook updates, blog links, and unique site visitors Social Suicide gets, the higher the sale discount. The rate is dynamic, so the discount can go up or down (hence my friend asking me to help drive the discount steeper), with unique sale codes that will give users the current discount rate being released periodically on the retailer's twitter.
Social Suicide's campaign demonstrates exactly the kind of recognition of the monetary value of social capital that is needed to navigate an increasingly socially networked consumer-base. While there's no shortage of brands and marketers expounding on the glories of "dialogue" and "conversation" in digital marketing, but Social Suicide is putting it's money where it's buzz is.
Continue reading "Social Suicide's digital savvy: bridging monetary value and social worth" »