February 23, 2011

Prof. Jenkins' named one of the "Top 10 Brains of the Digital Future" by Prospect Magazine (UK)

In January, Prospect magazine named Prof. Jenkins No. 3 on its list of "top 10 brains of the digital future."

Joining Henry in the top three were Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web Consortium and credited with the invention of the web, and Susan Crawford, who was President Barack Obama's special assistant for science, technology and innovation policy until December 2009.

As the article states:

"How are digital media affecting what constitutes "culture"--and what should it mean to educate the citizens of a digital world? Henry Jenkins, professor of communication, journalism and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, is perhaps the world's most influential and radical scholar addressing these questions."

For the full article online in Prospect Magazine, click here.

February 22, 2011

Media in Transition 7 (MIT 7) - May 13-15, 2011: Call For Papers

Media in Transition 7 (MIT 7):

Unstable Platforms: the Promise and Peril of Transition

May 13-15, 2011


Also see: http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/mit7/

Submissions accepted on a rolling basis until Friday, March 4, 2011.

Conference dates: May 13-15, 2011 at MIT.

Registration and hotel links are available.

MiT7 unstable platforms: the promise and peril of transition

Has the digital age confirmed and exponentially increased the cultural instability and creative destruction that are often said to define advanced capitalism? Does living in a digital age mean we may live and die in what the novelist Thomas Pynchon has called “a ceaseless spectacle of transition”? The nearly limitless range of design options and communication choices available now and in the future is both exhilarating and challenging, inciting innovation and creativity but also false starts, incompatible systems, planned obsolescence.

For this seventh Media in Transition conference we want to focus directly on our core topic – the experience of transition. Our first conference in 1999 considered this subject, of course.  But that was before Facebook, iPhones, BitTorrent, IPTV and many other changes.

How are we coping with the instability of platforms? How are the classroom, the newsroom, the corporate office exploiting digital systems and responding to the imperative for constant upgrades. Our libraries and archives? Our public entertainments? Are new technologies changing the experience of reading? The experience of watching movies or television programs? How stable, how durable are current or emerging systems? How relevant are earlier periods of media change to our current experience of ongoing instability and transformation?

We welcome submissions from scholars and teachers in all fields as well as media-makers, producers, designers and industry professionals.

Possible topics include:

  • Technologies of reading
  • The future and fate of media studies
  • Narrative across media
  • Analog media in the connected era
  • Emerging forms of journalism and community engagement
  • New questions, new paradigms for media history
  • Reappraising divides, digital, generational, and gendered
  • Television: a medium of constant change?
  • Rethinking access and restriction in the digital age
  • The migration of print culture to digital form: promises and problems
  • Oral cultures and digital cultures
  • The advent of the book
  • Corporate strategies for the digital age

Short abstracts of about 250 words for papers or panels can be sent via email to mit7@mit.edu no later than Friday, March 4, 2011.

While emailed submissions are preferred, abstracts can be snail-mailed to:

Brad Seawell

MIT 14N-430

77 Mass. Ave.

Cambridge , MA 02139

Please include a short (75 words or less) biographical statement.

We invite submissions of full papers and proposals of full panels. Panel proposals should include a panel title and one-sentence description of the panel as well as separate abstracts and bios for each panel speaker.

Anyone submitting panel proposals should take it on themselves to identify and recruit a moderator.

Our expectation is that speakers will submit full versions of their presentations before the conference begins so that all conferees will have a chance to preview the materials.

We will be evaluating submissions on a rolling basis. The final deadline for submission will be Friday, March 4, 2011.

Twitter, Gladwell, and Why Social Media's Revolutionary Potential Isn't (Really) About Egypt

[This post originally appeared at canarytrap.net]

Earlier this month, amongst all the frustration, euphoria, and confused wonder surrounding the events in Egypt, Malcolm Gladwell and others got mired in another discussion regarding the relative efficacy of social media in creating political change.

I don't want to rehash the back and forth (some thoughtful opinions here, here, and here), except to say that I empathize with Gladwell's frustration, I really do, but I think that his push-back isn't particularly illuminating or necessary. It's true that some of the over-emphasis on the role of social media runs the risk of overshadowing more considered analysis of the historical context and implications of what happened in Egypt. And I have to admit that seeing some of the twitter and foursquare jokes made me bristle with annoyance briefly (not because they were making light of the situation, but because they made light of the privilege we had, as media and communications professionals in the US, in being able to be cute about it all). Maybe its a function of my youthful optimism, but I think Gladwell does a disservice in validating these strawmen as something worth arguing against.

For me, claims that social media brought forth the revolution in Egypt exist so deep within a territory of techno-narcissism that isn't really even worth refuting. And it's not unexpected -- these technologies are still relatively new. We're still trying to sort out what they can do. If we look at early film and TV criticism, so much focused on the "how" over the "why" in the same way that Gladwell laments, and it didn't prevent the "why" (and the "what") from dominating the discourse as the novelty wore off.

But more importantly, I think his arguments about social media not being relevant to revolutions makes the same awkward assumption as the claims that facebook changed Egypt: that what's compelling about what happened online has everything (or anything) to do with Egypt per se. Maybe because I think of them as dramatically important in totally different arenas, I don't see the emphasis on one or the other in competition with one another for column pixels. Because something significant did happen on and to social media, but to think it was what twitter and Facebook did (or didn't do) for Egypt is to have things backwards. Twitter didn't happen to Egypt; Egypt happened to twitter and is may be transforming how we think about the role of social media in our lives and communities.

Continue reading "Twitter, Gladwell, and Why Social Media's Revolutionary Potential Isn't (Really) About Egypt" »

February 10, 2011

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century (airing on PBS)

Watch the full episode. See more Digital Media - New Learners Of The 21st Century.

Prof. Jenkins is featured prominently in the upcoming PBS documentary Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century. Following is a cross-post from Henry's blog - sharing his enthusiasm for the series which starts this Sunday evening (Feb. 13) on most PBS stations (click here for air times and dates in your area):

I wanted to give people a head's up for a great new documentary, New Learners of the 21st Century, which will be airing on PBS stations across the United States this coming Sunday, Feb. 13. Some of you will recall how one-sided and negative I found the Digital Nation documentary which aired last year, despite having talked to many key researchers and collected some compelling material for their webpage.

New Learners of the 21st Century offers the flip side of that documentary, taking us into innovative school and after school programs which are making creative use of new media platforms and practices for pedagogy. You can get a taste for what to expect from this opening segment which they have posted to PBS Video, but it is really, in this case, only the beginning.

By the second segment on Quest to Learn, the New York charter school which uses game design to teach, you can see the difference in the ways the two documentaries approach their topics. In Digital Nation, the Quest to Learn segment is almost incomprehensible: we see lots of activities involving technology but we have no idea what the kids are doing or why, and as a result, it feels like technology for technology's sake. Here, we learn about their pedagogical approach; we see processes unfold; we hear about when they use technology and when they ask the kids to put it aside. The focus is less on the use of computers in the classroom, an old topic after all and as my above discussion suggests, one we are still struggling with, and more on the use of new media literacies in education.

The same holds true for the film's treatment of a range of other pedagogical sites, including great stuff on work being done by the Smithsonian Institute and by the YouMedia Center at the Chicago Public Library, both important innovators in this space.

Because the topic is more narrowly focused, and because the goal is to explain and not simply stir up controversy, this film does do justice to the complex research which the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning program has funded in this area. I have been honored to be part of this initiative from the start, so my recommendation is scarcely unbiased here. But if like me, you've been burnt several times already by PBS's treatment of youth and digital media, I want to let you know that this one will be more rewarding.

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