Futures of Entertainment

October 18, 2012

FOE6 - Registration still open/Videos from Transmedia Hollywood 3: Rethinking Creative Relations

Registation for FOE6 is still open. Please join us in a few weeks in Cambridge!


Nov. 9-10, 2012

Bartos Theater (Wiesner Building)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Cambridge, MA

Registration is available here. Also, note there is a pre-conference MIT Communications Forum free and open to the public on Thursday, Nov. 8.

At the two-day conference, each morning will be spent discussing key issues faced by media producers, marketers, and audiences alike, at the heart of the futures of entertainment. Each afternoon, we will look into how some of those issues are manifesting themselves in specific media industries.

More information will be released regularly from @futuresof on Twitter.

Also, in anticipation of FOE6, we are finally archiving the video from Transmedia Hollywood 3 here at the FOE site. Transmedia Hollywood is our sister event, held annually in the spring at the USC or UCLA campus. A description of Transmedia Hollywood and the videos can be found below.

Transmedia Hollywood 3: Rethinking Creative Relations

As transmedia models become more central to the ways that the entertainment industry operates, the result has been some dramatic shifts within production culture, shifts in the ways labor gets organized, in how productions get financed and distributed, in the relations between media industries, and in the locations from which creative decisions are being made.

This year’s Transmedia, Hollywood examines the ways that transmedia approaches are forcing the media industry to reconsider old production logics and practices, paving the way for new kinds of creative output. Our hope is to capture these transitions by bringing together established players from mainstream media industries and independent producers trying new routes to the market. We also hope to bring a global perspective to the conversation, looking closely at the ways transmedia operates in a range of different creative economies and how these different imperatives result in different understandings of what transmedia can contribute to the storytelling process – for traditional Hollywood, the global media industries, and for all the independent media-makers who are taking up the challenge to reinvent traditional media-making for a “connected” audience of collaborators.

Many of Hollywood’s entrenched business and creative practices remain deeply mired in the past, weighed down by rigid hierarchies, interlocking bureaucracies, and institutionalized gatekeepers (e.g. the corporate executives, agents, managers, and lawyers). In this volatile moment of crisis and opportunity, as Hollywood shifts from an analog to a digital industry, one which embraces collaboration, collectivity, and compelling uses of social media, a number of powerful independent voices have emerged. These include high-profile transmedia production companies such as Jeff Gomez’s Starlight Runner Entertainment as well as less well-funded and well-staffed solo artists who are coming together virtually from various locations across the globe. What these top-down and bottom-up developments have in common is a desire to buck tradition and to help invent the future of entertainment. One of the issues we hope to address today is the social, cultural, and industrial impact of these new forms of international collaboration and mixtures of old and new work cultures.

Another topic is the future of independent film. Will creative commons replace copyright? Will crowdsourcing replace the antiquated foreign sales model? Will the guilds be able to protect the rights of digital laborers who work for peanuts? What about audiences who work for free? Given that most people today spend the bulk of their leisure time online, why aren’t independent artists going online and connecting with their community before committing their hard-earned dollars on a speculative project designed for the smallest group of people imaginable – those that frequent art-house theaters?

Fearing obsolescence in the near future, many of Hollywood’s traditional studios and networks are looking increasingly to outsiders – often from Silicon Valley or Madison Avenue – to teach these old dogs some new tricks. Many current studio and network executives are overseeing in-house agencies, whose names – Sony Interactive Imageworks, NBC Digital, and Disney Interactive Media Group – are meant to describe their cutting-edge activities and differentiate themselves from Hollywood’s old guard.

Creating media in the digital age is “nice work if you can get it,” according to labor scholar Andrew Ross in a recent book of the same name. Frequently situated in park-like “campuses,” many of these new, experimental companies and divisions are hiring large numbers of next generation workers, offering them attractive amenities ranging from coffee bars to well-prepared organic food to basketball courts. However, even though these perks help to humanize the workplace, several labor scholars (e.g. Andrew Ross, Mark Deuze, Rosalind Gill) see them as glittering distractions, obscuring a looming problem on the horizon – a new workforce of “temps, freelancers, adjuncts, and migrants.”

While the analog model still dominates in Hollywood, the digital hand-writing is on the wall; therefore, the labor guilds, lawyers, and agent/managers must intervene to find ways to restore the eroding power/leverage of creators. In addition, shouldn’t the guilds be mindful of the new generation of digital laborers working inside these in-house agencies? What about the creative talent that emerges from Madison Avenue ad agencies like Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, makers of the Asylum 626 first-person horror experience for Doritos; or Grey’s Advertising, makers of the Behind the Still collective campaign for Canon? Google has not only put the networks’ 30-second ad to shame using Adword, but its Creative Labs has taken marketing to new aesthetic heights with its breathtaking Johnny Cash [collective] Project. Furthermore, Google’s evocative Parisian Love campaign reminds us just how intimately intertwined our real and virtual lives have become.

Shouldn’t Hollywood take note that many of its most powerful writers, directors, and producers are starting to embrace transmedia in direct and meaningful ways by inviting artists from the worlds of comic books, gaming, and web design to collaborate? These collaborations enhance the storytelling and aesthetic worlds tenfold, enriching “worlds” as diverse as The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and cable’s The Walking Dead. Hopefully, this conference will leave all of us with a broader understanding of what it means to be a media maker today – by revealing new and expansive ways for artists to collaborate with Hollywood media managers, audiences, advertisers, members of the tech culture, and with one another.

Once the dominant player in the content industry, Hollywood today is having to look as far away as Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue for collaborators in the 2.0 space.

Moderator: Denise Mann, UCLA


Nick Childs, Executive Creative Director, Fleishman Hillard

Jennifer Holt, co-Director, Media Industries Project, UCSB

Lee Hunter, Global Head of Marketing, YouTube

Jordan Levin, CEO, Generate

In countries with strong state support for media production, alternative forms of transmedia are taking shape. How has transmedia fit within the effort of nation-states to promote and expand their creative economies?

Moderator: Laurie Baird, Strategic Consultant – Media and Entertainment at Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology.


Jesse Albert, Producer & Consultant in Film, Television, Digital Media, Live Events & Branded Content

Morgan Bouchet, Vice-President, Transmedia and Social Media, Content Division, Orange

Christy Dena, Director, Universe Creation 101

Sara DIamond, President, Ontario College of Art and Design University

Mauricio Mota, Chief Storytelling Officer, Co-founder of The Alchemists

A new generation of media makers are taking art out of the rarefied world of crumbling art-house theaters, museums, and galleries and putting it back in the hands of the masses, creating immersive, interactive, and collaborative works of transmedia entertainment, made for and by the people who enjoy it most.

Moderator: Denise Mann, UCLA.


Tara Tiger Brown, Freelance Interactive Producer/Product Manager

Mike Farah, President of Production, Funny Or DIe

Ted Hope, Producer/Partner/Founder, Double Hope Films

Sheila C. Murphy, Associate Professor, University of Michigan

By many accounts, the comics industry is failing. Yet, comics have never played a more central role in the entertainment industry, seeding more and more film and television franchises. What advantages does audience-tested content bring to other media? What do the producers owe to those die-hard fans as they translate comic book mythology to screen? And why have so many TV series expanded their narrative through graphic novels in recent years?

Moderator: Geoffrey Long, Lead Narrative Producer for the Narrative Design Team at Microsoft Studios.


Katherine Keller, Culture Vultures Editrix at Sequential Tart

Joe LeFavi, Quixotic Transmedia

Mike Richardson, President, Dark Horse Comics

Mark Verheiden, Writer (Falling Skies, Heroes)

Mary Vogt, Costume Designer (Rise Of The Silver Surfer, Men In Black)

August 6, 2012

Announcing Futures of Entertainment 6 Line-Up

We are pleased to announce that the Futures of Entertainment 6 conference will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Bartos Theater on MIT's campus in Cambridge, MA. Registration is available here. Also, note there is a pre-conference MIT Communications Forum free and open to the public on Thursday, Nov. 8. Some details below.

At the two-day conference, each morning will be spent discussing key issues faced by media producers, marketers, and audiences alike, at the heart of "the futures of entertainment." Each afternoon, we will look into how some of those issues are manifesting themselves in specific media industries.

Here is the schedule outline, as well as some of the confirmed panelists who will be joining us at the event. More information will be released regularly from @futuresof on Twitter. We will also have the conference website up later this month.

Thursday, Nov. 8
7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.: MIT Communications Forum Pre-FoE6 Event at Building E25 Room 111 New Media in West Africa
Derrick "DNA" Ashong, leader, Soulflége
Colin Maclay, Managing Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
Fadzi Makanda, Business Development Manager, iROKO Partners
Moderator: Ralph Simon, head of the Mobilium Advisory Group and a founder of the mobile entertainment industry

Friday, Nov. 9
7:30 a.m. Registration Opens

8:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m.: Opening Remarks from FoE Fellows Laurie Baird and Ana Domb

9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Listening and Empathy: Making Companies More Human
Lara Lee, Chief Innovation and Operating Officer, Continuum
Grant McCracken, author, Culturematic, Chief Culture Officer
Carol Sanford, author, The Responsible Business
Emily Yellin, author, Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us
Moderator: Sam Ford, Director of Digital Strategy, Peppercomm

11:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Break

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: The Ethics and Politics of Curation in a Spreadable Media World--A One-on-One Conversation with Brain Pickings' Maria Popova and Undercurrent's Joshua Green

12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.: Lunch Break

1:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.: The Futures of Public Media
Nolan Bowie, Senior Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Andrew Golis, Director of Digital Media and Senior Editor, FRONTLINE
Rekha Murthy, Director of Projects and Partnerships, Public Radio Exchange
Annika Nyberg Frankenhaeuser, Media Director, European Broadcasting Union
Moderator: Jessica Clark, media strategist, Association of Independents in Radio

3:45 p.m.-4:15 p.m.: Break

4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.: From Participatory Culture to Political Participation
Sasha Costanza-Chock, Assistant Professor of Civic Media, MIT
Dorian Electra, performing artist ("I'm in Love with Friedrich Hayek"; "Roll with the Flow")
Lauren Bird, Creative Media Coordinator, Harry Potter Alliance
Aman Ali, co-creator, 30 Mosques in 30 Days
Bassam Tariq, co-creator, 30 Mosques in 30 Days
Moderator: Sangita Shresthova, Research Director of CivicPaths, University of Southern California

6:15 p.m.-6:45 p.m.: Closing Remarks from Maurício Mota and Louisa Stein

Saturday, Nov. 10
7:30 a.m. Registration Opens

8:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m.: Opening Remarks from Xiaochang Li and Mike Monello

9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Curing the Shiny New Object Syndrome: Strategy Vs. Hype When Using New Technologies
Todd Cunningham, Futures of Entertainment Fellow and television audience research leader
Jason Falls, CEO, Social Media Explorer
Eden Medina, Associate Professor of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University
Mansi Poddar, co-founder, Brown Paper Bag
David Polinchock, Director, AT&T AdWorks Lab
Moderator: Ben Malbon, Managing Director, Google Creative Lab

11:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Break

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Rethinking Copyright: A discussion with musician, songwriter, and producer T Bone Burnett; Henry Jenkins, Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at the University of Southern California; and Jonathan Taplin, Director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California

1:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m.: Lunch Break

2:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.: The Futures of Video Gaming
Ed Fries, architect of Microsoft's video game business and co-founder of the Xbox project
T.L. Taylor, Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies, MIT
Yanis Varoufakis, Economist-in-Residence, Valve Software
Christopher Weaver, founder of Bethesda Softworks and industry liaison, MITGameLab
Moderator: Futures of Entertainment Fellow and games producer Alec Austin

4:15 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Break

4:45 p.m.-6:45 p.m.: The Futures of Storytelling and Sports
Abe Stein, researcher at Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab; graduate student, Comparative Media Studies, MIT; columnist, Kill Screen
Peter Stringer, Senior Director of Interactive Media, Boston Celtics
Alex Chisholm, transmedia producer and Co-Founder and Executive Director, Learning Games Network
Moderator: Mark Warshaw, President, The Alchemists Transmedia Storytelling Company

6:45 p.m.-7:15 p.m.: Closing Remarks from Heather Hendershot and Sheila Seles

7:15 p.m.: Post-Conference Workshop--The Futures of Transmedia Studies: Collaborations in and beyond Higher Education

October 31, 2011

Previewing Location, Mobile, and How Data Tells Stories at FoE5

This year at FoE, I'll be engaging a panel of great speakers to have a slightly different conversation about location, beyond the usual marketing and technology-focused discussions. With mobile and location-based services on the rise, it is increasingly important think about how these technologies, the behaviors they enable, and the data they produce change how we encounter the spaces we inhabit and interact with one another within them.

As a quick introduction, I wanted to share a little background on our panel:

Tell us a little bit about what you're currently working on and why:

Andy Ellwood: I am currently heading up the business development efforts for Gowalla. We are working with brands and partners around the world as it pertains to the interactions and engagements that our millions of users are creating as it pertains to the stories that they tell about the places that they go.

Dan Street: Hi. I'm CEO of Loku. We bring Big Data tools to Local. You can think of us as a search engine that's specific to local information.

Germain Halegoua: I'm currently working on a few different projects, all related to location or physical place in some way. I'm finishing up a research project about the relationships between vendors and customers over location-based services as well as other social media platforms. I'm beginning to interview people about how they use Google Street View for purposes other than navigation and to examine the participatory cultures that are being formed around StreetView. Mary Gray, Alex Leavitt, and I are working on a project about Foursquare "jumpers" (people who check-in to locations when they're not physically in that location). I'm also working on a collaborative mapping and digital storytelling project that involves bike accidents reported to the Madison, WI Police Department between 2008-2011.

I think it's important to understand what people actually do with navigation and location-
based technologies and the cultures that surround these activities. Frequently, actual
practices tend to differ from intended use, and I think it's important to notice when
and why this happens. All of my current projects deal with social power in some way
(juxtaposing official and vernacular knowledge and experience of place; engaging with
location-based technologies in alternative or oppositional ways; trying to exert control
of customer-vendor relations through location-based technologies) which is a concept
that is under-examined in location-based social media but something that is incredibly
important to understand as more people engage with these systems.

Tell us a little bit about your background and the perspective it brings to your interests:

Andy Ellwood: My background is in sales, most recently selling private jets before jumping into the digital world.

Dan Street: My background is strategy consulting and private equity, in technology and media companies.

Germain Halegoua: My interest in social media and location-based technologies actually stems from studying and participating in documentary film, public access television, and media
activism in NYC. Working on these projects, I observed the ways in which people
harnessed and produced media in order to understand and augment their connection
to local issues, mobilize their neighborhoods, explore their city, and express their social
position within urban space. People have been using technologies to represent and play
with location, and using location to contextualize their experiences, for some time now.
I see activities like "check-ins" and location announcement as an extension of these
mediated practices. Because of my past experiences, I think I'm more apt to think about
a "check-in" as more than "just a check-in," and a lot of my research is driven by the
desire to find out what that means.

How did you first become involved and interested in creating/researching location-based data/interaction/technology? Was there a particular aspect or incident that drew you?

Andy Ellwood: My attraction to tech and digital specifically focused on the ability to take online experiences live and deepen relationships with friends and trusted brands.

Dan Street: I jumped into local both because I care - I'm from a small town, and want to bring some of those dynamics to an urban world - and also because it's a largely untapped opportunity.

Germain Halegoua: I think it might have been when I bought my first cell phone. It was just a bare-bones cell phone with no SMS plan at first (and definitely no apps or web browsing, etc), but it got me thinking about communication, information, and location in a totally different way.

October 28, 2011

Kill Screen's Jamin Warren on the Futures of Gaming

At the Futures of Entertainment, we've always been big proponents of gaming and gamers. I was thrilled to be able to interview Jamin Warren, Founder of gaming magazine Kill Screen. Kill Screen has some of the best game writing out there, and they're constantly proving the importance of games as a cultural form. Jamin Warren told me about why he founded Kill Screen, where Kill Screen's going next and the (lack of) interactions between gamemakers and fans.

Sheila Murphy Seles: Can you tell me a little about your background and why you founded Kill Screen?

Jamin Warren: I started as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, covering arts and entertainment there. I wanted to have my own niche, and besides reading, videogames were the only other thing I had done my entire life. But when I started writing about games, I quickly discovered two things. First, large media institutions like the Journal were not interested in games for either their commercial or cultural import. Second, the type of content for gamers was geared at teens and college-student. As someone in my 20s, there was little for me to express the type of game culture that fit into my life as someone interested, not just in games, but the intersections between play and art/design/music etc.

Other popular movements have had a gatekeeper that ushered them into maturity. Rock had Rolling Stone and then MTV. The Internet had Wired. Indie rock had Pitchfork and VICE had hipsters. That was the impetus for Kill Screen -- to embody this new, older videogame player. Gamers have grown-up, but their culture hasn't.

SMS: What are your biggest initiatives currently at Kill Screen?

JW: Currently, our biggest project is the production arm. My partner Tavit came from Atari and the Primary Wave the music publisher. Brands and agencies are looking for better interactive, game projects, but they don't necessarily have the know-how or experience building those. We know games so we can both build and guide them to create better branded experiences. This summer, for example, we built a project from scratch for Sony Music for Incubus to reinvigorate their fan-base. The game saw tremendous engagement (more than 6 min. of avg. playtime) and sparked a conversation.

On the cultural side, there's a big gap for indie gamemakers in terms of their economic ecosystem. If you're an independent photographer, filmmaker etc., you balance your creative work with your commercial obligations. Game designers have no such system as the games industry writ large is organized like Hollywood before the landmark Supreme Court case against Paramount. Gamemakers either have to work for traditional publishers or hope for their indie project to score a hit. By connecting agencies and brands with game designers, we're expanding their ecosystem to allow them to have a project-based system akin to the one enjoyed by other creatives.

SMS: What kinds of collaboration do you see in the game industry between fans/gamers and content creators?

JW: Traditionally, the videogame industry has done a poor job of engaging fans on their own terms. Nintendo is great example of this failure -- the Wii, for example, made it nearly impossible to connect with others online. Facebook integration on XBox Live and PlayStation Network is woeful. Those lack of dialogic tools is emblematic of a larger rift between those who play games and those who make.

One odd example is FarmVille, which perhaps represents an extreme. They A/B test every user experience and that game is in fact a perfect reflection of the desires of the community. This, of course, sucks the fun out, but it is a conversation they are actively having with their community.

I'm most interested in the user tools that are emerging to make it easier to make games. Microsoft's Kodu is designed for kids and Scratch is another "easy" programming language for game devs. There will be a day where game creation tools will be as commonplace as word processing software.

October 27, 2011

Previewing The Futures of Music at FoE5

Futures of Entertainment Fellow Nancy Baym will be moderating a panel on "The Futures of Music" at our Futures of Entertainment 5 conference Nov. 11-12. Nancy recently had a chance to talk with her five panelists about their background, their current projects, and what they hope to discuss at the conference in two weeks.

First, a brief introduction to Nancy.

Nancy Baym: I'm a professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. I study relationships and the internet and, in the last few years, have been working in the area of music. I did one project about Swedish independent music, looking at how fans spread the music online and how labels and musicians embrace file sharing and audience creativity as a means of fostering community and expanding their audience. Recently I've been interviewing musicians (including Erin McKeown, one of our panelists) about their perspective on their audiences and the roles of social media in those relationships. My website is here.

Q: Can you tell our readers a bit about who you are?

Erin McKeown: Howdy readers! I'm Erin McKeown: a writer, musician and producer. For over a decade, I have made albums and toured, both independantly and with labels. I also do some activist thinking about the music business and larger political issues.

Brian Whitman: I'm the co-founder and CTO of the Echo Nest, a music intelligence company I started in 2005 after my dissertation work at MIT at the Media Lab doing "machine listening" -- teaching computers to understand music. We now power almost every music service out there, from MOG to MTV to Clear Channel to hundreds of independent music apps. I have an academic background in natural language processing, machine learning and information retrieval, and was a relatively active electronic musician before packing it in to start the Echo Nest.

João Brasil: My name is João Brasil, and I'm a musician, music producer and DJ. I'm a Berklee grad. I produce Brazilian Guetto Tech music (Baile Funk, Tecnobrega and Electronic Forró) and Mashups (Sound Collages). My main music source is the internet. In 2010, I made a project where I made one mashup per day.

Chuck Fromm: I'm a catalytic networker helping people to connect, collaborate, create and circulate resources, primarily around Christian religious organizations. I work extensively with church leaders, music industry and independent producers and executives, artists, scholars and writers. I am an adjunct professor in the academy in communications and publisher of Worship Leader Magazine, which allows for connection between writers, leaders and communicators.

Mike King: I'm an instructor at Berkleemusic.com, the online extension school for Berklee College of Music. I've been teaching here for close to five years, and I've written three courses that are music business and music marketing-focused. I'm also the director of marketing for Berkleemusic. I currently teach one course at Northeastern University on music marketing and promotion, and wrote a book called Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail in 2009. Prior to working at Berklee, I was a product manager at Rykodisc, which at the time was a large independent record label in Salem, MA. I was the managing editor of the Herb Alpert Foundation-funded online musician's resource www.artistshousemusic.org for three years.

Q: What have you been working on lately?

Erin McKeown: I've got two albums cooking: my latest singer-songwriter effort, done in the spring. and a record of anti-xmas carols, out just a few days before the conference. This year, i am also a fellow at the Berkman Center, where I have a number of projects simmering around artist revenue streams and policy.

Brian Whitman: Besides the everyday drama and excitement of being the co-founder and CTO of a 35-person startup, I've been focused on two core Echo Nest technologies: our audio fingerprinting and music resolving systems and our "taste profiles" -- recommendation and playlist generation at the listener level. Both involve taking our massive database of music (the biggest in the world, we are pretty sure) and figuring out ways in which we can make people's experience with music better. I have a lot of misplaced bitterness towards the way the tech industry has handled music technology and the music experience for musicians and listeners. I think they've not given it the care that it deserves, and I'm hoping to fix that.

João Brasil: I'm working on my new album for Man Recordings (German Label). I just finished the soundtrack for the Copacabana Beach NYE fireworks. I was invited to be the Brazilian representative DJ for the J&B Whisky Start a Party project, and I'm producing the track for the Nike Run 600 Km project Brazil.

Chuck Fromm: I'm in an intense learning environment as to how media spreads. A small story about a Bible study at my house and local city government spread from local, to national and international in less than two weeks, and so I've been personally experiencing the power of broadcast and social media firsthand.

Mike King: Lately, I've been working on my second book for Berklee Press, which will be focused on online music marketing and the direct to fan approach to marketing. I've also been working on raising a new son, Sam, who is three months old.

Q: What do you hope to talk about in this panel?

Erin McKeown: The time that starts just after today: the Future. Just kidding. We have existing compensation structures that have quite a few flaws. How can artists maximize a broken system? In the bigger picture, how can music benefit from, say, the lessons of the local food movement? Or even #occupywallst?

Brian Whitman: I get a lot of musicians approaching me after talks asking how they can do better in this new world where most everything is available for free -- one way or another -- and there are millions of artists all fighting for the same overworked listeners' attention. I'd like to discuss the importance of data to musicians and how it affects them, even if they've never thought about it.

João Brasil: I hope to talk about internet X music, mashup culture, Worldmusic 2.0, Tecnobrega revolutionary music business in Pará, Youtube X MTV.

Chuck Fromm:

  • How any pig can fly in a hurricane; I've flown in several of them.
  • The development and promotion of early Christian hymns composed in the 2nd and 3rd century, remediating and circulating via networked communications.
  • Working in and with new folk culture created by Internet communications.
  • Key trends that are emerging in the promotion, creation and distribution of music over the past 5 years, based on my own work in music and entertainment as a participant/observer.

Mike King: I'd like our panel to be a discussion on how the music industry is continuing its massive shift - both the positives and negatives - for consumers and artists. I'd like to cover streaming music, social media, direct to fan options, and revenue options for artists.

October 24, 2011

Collaboration across Borders: Interview with Seung Bak of DramaFever

Founded in 2009, DramaFever, an English language video site for Asian TV shows is now the largest US-based site of its kind, boasting over a million active users every month. I had the chance to interview Seung Bak, one of the founders of DramaFever about why the site has become so successful. He also told me about some of the collaborations DramaFever has been able to foster between American fans and producers of Asian dramas.

Continue reading "Collaboration across Borders: Interview with Seung Bak of DramaFever" »

June 15, 2011

C3 White Paper: Learning to Share - The Relational Logics of Media Franchising by Derek Johnson

This summer, select 2010/2011 C3 research memos and white papers willl be made publicly available.

Now available for download from the C3/FOE website:

Learning To Share: The Relational Logics of Media Franchising

Derek Johnson (University of North Texas)
Consulting Researcher for the Convergence Culture Consortium

franchising image

Download the executive summary or the entire research memo.

Executive Summary

In the contemporary media environment, it has become increasingly commonplace—and commonsense—to refer to successful, long-running intellectual properties as “franchises.” In May 2010, for example, Advertising Age made sense of the sale of Snoopy, Woodstock, and the rest of Charles Shultz’s Peanuts gang to the Iconix Brand Group in these terms, valuating the history of the property and its continuing potential in the global media marketplace by exclaiming “It’s a Great Franchise, Charlie Brown” (Bulik 2010). This metaphor for making sense of media properties extends beyond trade discourse, with popular blogs also participating in the franchise conversation. In a recent post later picked up by Yahoo! News, Life’s Little Mysteries blogger Mike Avila meditates on the media franchise by trying to determine “the most successful movie franchise of all time.” Having decided to make box office revenue the deciding factor, Avila awards the crown to the Harry Potter series and its $5.4 billion in ticket sales—but with the caveat that Star Wars would gain an advantage if merchandising were to be considered, while the James Bond films exceed both in terms of overall longevity.

Such posts contribute to an overall popular understanding of the media franchise as the result of ongoing management of a property across time and various markets, corroborating the perceptions of industry insiders like Disney’s Robert Iger, who similarly defines franchise as “something that creates value across multiple businesses and across multiple territories over a long period of time” (Siklos 2009). The economic meanings carried by this metaphor, however, have also been negotiated by those working creatively with these properties, whose individual interests and energies must be asserted in the face of all this successful brand maintenance. Reflecting on the conclusion of the TV series Lost in 2010, producer Carlton Cuse notes: “We certainly understand and absolutely respect that ABC and Disney has an incredibly valuable franchise and they want to do more things with Lost, but the story we're telling ends in May” (Chozick 2010). Because Lost is understood in this way as one of the most successful television franchises of the early twenty-first century, Cuse finds it necessary as a stakeholder to reassert the role of creative individuality within the perpetual corporate management of the shared property.

This notion of media franchising, therefore, shapes how analysts, executives, creators, and popular audiences each imagine the media industries of the contemporary moment. And as Cuse’s attempt to position his work outside perceptions of franchising demonstrates, this metaphor is a particularly loaded one, often negatively connoting corporate control and exploitation of a cash cow at the expense of independence and artistry. Without a doubt, many of these connotations come from the wider cultural history of franchising. Prior to the industrial revolution, a franchise was conceived primarily in the political terms of enfranchisement. Derived from the French franchir (to free), the word “franchise” conveyed one’s right to participate and pursue one’s interests free of constraint. Within a collective system such as electoral politics, the franchise was, by and large, a freely determined individual vote. However, as historians of marketing such as Harry Kursh argue, this free right to participate took on more economic—and more sinister—connotations by the nineteenth century, as emerging tycoons “slit each other’s corporate throats” in fierce competition to be awarded “franchise” rights over utilities, railroads, and other elements of public infrastructure (1968: 194). According to scholar T.S. Dicke, the term acquired an additional use around 1959, newly deployed to describe business systems in which corporate franchisors operating on a national level develop a trademarked system of doing business enter into contractual relations with franchisees who pay a fee to independently operate outlets on the local level (1992: 2).

It is from this usage that most consumers understand global business operations such as McDonald’s restaurants, Meineke auto shops, or Best Western hotels. Thus, as industry analysts in Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and other sites of trade discourse began in the early 1990s to make sense of media content and its production as “franchising” (moving the term beyond existing usage to describe the assignment of broadcasting licenses and municipal cable monopolies as franchise rights to infrastructure), the term brought with it a great deal of historical and cultural baggage. To think about media culture as franchise is to think about it in the same terms that make sense of fast food. And in the same way that critics like George Ritzer (2000) have lamented the increasing standardization and rationalized control of culture as what he calls the “McDonaldization” of society, the articulation of media to fast food reflects allows the latter to act as cultural shorthand for the inadequacies of the former.

So while media franchising has been frequently invoked in industrial, popular, and scholarly discourse, perceptions of its economic determinism and its lack of cultural value have at least partially sidelined specific attempts to understand what the franchising of media culture actually means. In most accounts, the media franchise is a rather simple effect, figured most often as a product of increasing corporate power and conglomeration or as the endgame for intellectual property management strategies. Even as Henry Jenkins (2006), for one potentially divergent example, considers the franchised intellectual property more productively as a site where new forms of narrative practice and cultural collaboration have emerged, the media franchise is positioned and understood in relation to the larger patterns of convergence culture and transmedia storytelling. Nevertheless, media franchising is a phenomenon in its own right, not confined to specifically transmedia considerations, as properties like Law & Order and CSI have become understood as franchises for their multiplication within the single medium of television. Similarly, in The Frodo Franchise, scholar Kristin Thompson (2007) offers a detailed picture of the Lord of the Rings franchise, but in arguing about its exceptional character, her book offers only a limited perspective on the phenomenon of media franchising at large.

But what can we learn from the logic of franchising itself? What does it tell us about how cultural production and creative collaboration might work? How can we make use of this understanding? With much of this phenomenon remaining to be explored by media researchers, this project aims to directly confront and deconstruct the cultural logics of franchising in order to understand it not as the effected product of other issues and forces, but as a process and set of relationships that have historically produced culture. Though the notion of the franchise carries with it much cultural baggage, those entrenched meanings and values accompany a very specific logic for organizing and making sense of cultural production sustained over time and across multiple market sectors. By developing a detailed, historical portrait of what franchising is and how it has worked, we will deepen our understanding of how culture has been collaboratively produced and consumed across decentralized networks of “enfranchised” stakeholders. To that end, this inquiry combines current research trajectories in media and cultural studies with conceptual models drawn from the fields of marketing and organizational communication to make sense of media franchising as a social practice. This approach demands we consider franchising not solely in terms of texts, products, brands, or properties, but also through power-laden, networked relationships between franchisors and franchisees with distinct interests in the shared cultural resources of the franchise. By combining analysis of trade press with archival research and original interviews with media professionals, this project examines how these shared resources have been deployed, managed, and sustained in specific historical instances by media institutions, creative personnel, and even consumers invested in them.

Key Findings

Ultimately, this study recognizes that any attempt to define the media franchise once and for all is an exercise in futility, as its slippery cultural meanings are perhaps what make it such a versatile means of understanding a wide variety of media practices. Nonetheless, by arguing that franchising offers a cultural structure through which media content, media institutions, and media audiences have been put into productive relations, this study helps point to the relational, collaborative logic that defines a franchised culture. From this perspective, five key findings will be delivered to demonstrate the value of comprehending franchising as a structure for organizing collaborative cultural production:

The Cultural Logic of Franchising is Relational: franchising must be understood as relational given its dependence on sustained, strategic relationships between stakeholders with unequal interest in shared cultural resources; franchises are not reflective of intellectual property monopolies, but instead negotiation of imperfectly aligned interests.

Franchising Drives Institutional Relationships: the cultural networks constituted by franchising have not merely bolstered the power of “big media” institutions, but rather, in driving institutional relationships, have created tensions, cleavages and challenges to be negotiated by conglomerates and upstarts alike. The franchise strategies of companies like Marvel Comics, when most successful, have depended upon institutional partnerships.

Franchising Supports Creative Relationships: franchising must also be understood with respect to creative relationships, in that it has enabled co-creation and collaboration through decentralized, emergent uses of shared story worlds. Users of properties like Battlestar Galactica must negotiate not only the structure of a shared set of narrative resources, but also hierarchies of creative power that encourage and constrain creative uses of them.

Franchising Generates Consumer-Constituent Relationships: as shared cultural resources, franchised worlds have supported what can be described as consumer-constituent relationships. Invited to invest at a variety of productive, affective, and even civic levels, consumers act as defacto franchisees, pursuing their own economic and political interests in the institutional and creative management of programs like 24.

Franchising Extends Transnational and Transgenerational Relationships: franchises support transnational and transgenerational relations through ongoing exchange, transformation, and reinvestment. Franchises like Transformers can be most productively understood not as globally traded products, but as cultural processes in which local innovations feed cross-cultural networks of production over long periods of time.

From these findings, this project theorizes the culture of media franchising to uncover an established tradition of collaborative production in the entertainment industries. As a cultural logic structuring production in relational terms, the media franchise might therefore be considered, despite its more historical, less cutting-edge character, a crucial corollary to any attempt to understand emerging “social media.”


By reflecting on the heterogeneous interests in a shared set of resources implied by the term “franchise,” we gain a much clearer insight into the social, institutional, and creative relationships by which culture has been produced and reproduced in the media industries. To be sure, media franchises are not reducible to the franchise relationships that have structured the retail and service industries over the past sixty to seventy years. Relationships geared toward the expansion of distribution channels and marketing reach function much differently from those aimed at multiplying the production of media culture.

Moreover, the degree to which the cultural logic of franchises (as it has been described in this white paper) is consciously and strategically recognized in the media industries remains to be seen. Many of the executives and creative professionals interviewed for this project disavowed or distanced themselves from the very notion of franchising, claiming ignorance of the term or explaining that such considerations were outside their job description. This likely means that relatively few producers are actually thinking in any real depth about media franchises. While the practices and relationships described here may be in place, a firm structural and strategic logic may not actually underlie them in practice.

Thinking more strategically in terms of franchising—and the cultural logic it implies—has some distinct advantages, and it is here that some initial recommendations can be synthesized:

1. Practitioners should consider franchising in terms of its instructive potential as a historical precedent.

2. The relational logic of media franchising challenges industry insiders to reconsider any strategic logics structured around singular control over the use of intellectual properties.

3. In contrast to prohibitive top-down controls, open and heterogeneous creative experimentation can be relied upon to renew and regenerate existing intellectual property production resources.

4. In developing collaborative productive models, industry professionals should develop greater appreciation of contributions that emerge from outside the top echelons of power. By thinking of licensed creators and fans alike as “franchisees,” license holders can recognize vital stakeholders in the ongoing production of media properties.


Derek Johnson is an Assistant Professor, University of North Texas, Department of Radio, Television, and Film. His dissertation examined the historical development of the media "franchise" as a form based on shared intellectual property networks, as a specific set of production and consumption practices, and as a discourse used to make sense of media culture. Interested in the organization of culture across media platforms, his research spans a wide range of industries (including film, television, video games, comics, and licensed merchandising) and encompasses issues of narrative theory, audience reception, public sphere discourse, as well as media economics and policy. His recent publications include "Inviting Audiences In: The Spatial Reorganization of Production and Consumption in 'TVIII'" (New Review of Film and Television, 2007), "Fan-tagonism: Factions, Institutions, and Constitutive Hegemonies of Fandom" (Fandom: Identities and Communities in Mediated Culture, edited by Gray, Harrington, and Sandvoss, 2007), and "Will the Real Wolverine Please Stand Up?: Marvel's Mutation from Monthlies to Movies" (Film and Comic Books, edited by Gordon, Jancovich, and McAllister, 2007). Derek can be reached directly at Derek.Johnson@unt.edu.

April 7, 2011

Transmedia Hollywood 2 - Registration Still Open!

Transmedia Hollywood 2: Visual Culture and Design can takes place tomorrow (Friday, April 8th). Prof. Jenkins is hosting and moderating the event - along with Denise Mann of UCLA - and many CMS C3 alumni, consulting researchers, practitioners and affiliates will be in attendance.

It promises to be an important event as "Transmedia' fights its way out of its early adoption/evangelist stage - into a broader discourse on what works, what doesn't, what the future language of the medium is and will be - as well as an exploration of the artistic, creative and market-driven pros and cons of transmedia narrative structures.

Registration is still open and is available through:


Visual Culture and Design

A UCLA/USC/Industry Symposium
Co-sponsored by
UCLA Producers Program,
UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television
USC School of Cinematic Arts

Friday, April 8, 2011
James Bridges Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television
9:45 AM - 7 PM

Event Co-Directors:
Denise Mann, Associate Professor, Producers Program, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

Henry Jenkins, Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Arts, USC Annenberg School of Communication


Transmedia, Hollywood 2: Visual Culture and Design is a one-day public symposium exploring the role of transmedia franchises in today's entertainment industries. Transmedia, Hollywood 2 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 media research centers in the nation, Transmedia, Hollywood 2 builds on the foundations established at last year's Transmedia, Hollywood: S/Telling the Story. This year's topic: Transmedia, Hollywood: Visual Culture and Design is meant to move from an abstract discussion of transmedia storytelling in all its permutations to a more concrete consideration of what is involved in designing for transmedia.

The past year has seen the Producer's Guild of America (PGA) embrace the concept of the transmedia producer. The other Guilds have begun discussing the implications of these developments for their membership. A growing number of small production units are springing up across the film, games, web, and television sectors to try to create and distribute transmedia content. Many of today's new transmedia producers are helmed by one-time studio or network insiders who are eager to "reinvent" themselves. Inside the studios, the executives tasked with top-down management of large media franchises are partnering with once marginalized film directors, comic book creators, game designers, and other creative personnel.

The underlying premise of this conference is that while the traditional studios and networks are hanging onto many of their outdated practices, they are also starting to engage creative personnel who are working outside the system to help them re-imagine their business. With crisis and change comes the opportunity for the next generation of maverick, independent-minded producers--the next Walt Disney and George Lucas-- to significantly challenge the old and to make way for the new. So, now, it is time to start examining lessons learned from these early experiments. Each of the issues outlined below impact the day-to-day design decisions that go into developing transmedia franchises. We hope to break down the project of developing transmedia content into four basic design challenges:

  • What does it mean to structure a franchise around the exploration of a world rather than a narrative? How are these worlds moving from the film and television screen into other media, such as comics, games, and location based entertainment?

  • What does it mean to design a character that will play well across a range of different media platforms? How might transmedia content re-center familiar stories around compelling secondary characters, adding depth to our understanding of the depicted events and relationships?

  • What does it mean to develop a sequence of events across a range of different media? How do we make sure that the spectator understands the relationship between events when they are piecing together information from different platforms and trying to make sense of a mythology that may span multiple epochs?

  • What does it take to motivate consumers to invest deeply enough into a transmedia franchise that they are eager to track down new installments and create buzz around a new property? How is transmedia linked to a push towards interactivity and participatory culture?

As with the first event, Transmedia, Hollywood: Visual Culture & Design will bring together comic book writers, game designers, "imagineers," filmmakers, television show runners, and other media professionals in a conversation with leading academic thinkers on these topics. Each of our speakers will be asked to focus on the unique challenges they faced while working on a specific production and detail how their understanding of transmedia helped them resolve those issues. From there, we will ask all our speakers to compare notes across projects and platforms with the hopes of starting to develop some basic design principles that will help us translate theories of transmedia entertainment into pragmatic reality.

The creative personnel we have assembled include many of the key individuals responsible for masterminding the fundamental changes in the way traditional media operates and engages audiences by altering the way stories are told temporally, by exploring how graphic design translates from one medium to another, and by explaining how these visually-stunning worlds are being conceived in today's "connected" entertainment arena.

Conference Schedule

Friday, April 8, 2011

9:15--9:45 am

9:45--10:00 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Teri Schwartz, Dean, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television
  • Denise Mann, Associate Professor/Head, Producers Program, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
  • Henry Jenkins, Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Arts, Annenberg School of Communication, USC

10:00--11:50 AM
Panel 1: "Come Out 2 Play": Designing Virtual Worlds--From Screens to Theme Parks and Beyond
Hollywood has come a long way since Walt Disney, circa 1955, invited families to come out and play in the first cross-platform, totally merchandised sandbox--Disneyland. Cut to today and most entertainment corporations are still focused on creating intellectual properties to exploit across all divisions of the Company. However, as the studios and networks move away from the concrete spaces of movie and TV screens and start to embrace the seemingly limitless "virtual spaces" of the Web as well as the real-world spaces of theme parks, museums, and comic book conventions, the demands on creative personnel and their studio counterparts have expanded exponentially.

Rather than rely on old-fashioned merchandising and licensing departments to oversee vendors, which too often results in uninspired computer games, novelizations, and label T-shirts, several studios have brought these activities in-house, creating divisions like Disney Imagineering and Disney Interactive to oversee the design and implementation of these vast, virtual worlds. In other instances, studios are turning to a new generation of independent producers--aka "transmedia producers"--charged with creating vast, interlocking brand extensions that make use of a never-ending cycle of technological future shock and Web 2.0 capabilities.

The results of these partnerships have been a number of extraordinarily inventive, interactive, and immersive experiences that create a "you are there" effect. These include the King Kong 360 3D theme park ride, which incorporates the sight, smell, and thunderous footsteps of the iconic gorilla as he appears to toss the audience's tram car into a pit. Universal Studios and Warner Bros. have joined forces to create the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new $200 million-plus attraction at the Islands of Adventure in Florida.

Today's panel focuses on the unique challenges associated with turning traditional media franchises into 3D interactive worlds, inviting you to come out 2 play in the studios' virtual sandboxes.

Moderator: Denise Mann
Panelists will include:

  • Alex McDowell, Production Designer for Tim Burton and Zack Snyder (Corpse Bride, Watchmen)

  • Thierry Coup, Art Designer, Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  • Angela Ndalianis, Associate Professor and Head of the Cinema Studies Program at the University of Melbourne, Australia (Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment)

  • Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, Disney Imagineering

12:00--1:50 PM
Panel 2: "We're Looking For Characters": Designing Personalities Who Play Across Platforms

How is our notion of what constitutes a good character changing as more and more decisions get made on the basis of a transmedia logic? Does it matter that James Bond originated in a book, Spider-Man in comics, Luke Skywalker on screen, and Homer Simpson on television, if each of these figures is going to eventually appear across a range of media platforms?

Do designers and writers conceive of characters differently when they know that they need to be recognizable in a variety of media? Why does transmedia often require a shift in focus as the protagonist aboard the "mothership" often moves off stage as extensions foreground the perspective and actions of once secondary figures?

How might we understand the process by which people on reality television series get packaged as characters who can drive audience identification and interest or by which performers get reframed as characters as they enter into the popular imagination?

Why have so few characters from games attracted a broader following while characters from comics seem to be gaining growing popularity even among those who have never read their graphic adventures?

Moderator: Henry Jenkins
Panelists will include:

  • Joseph Ferencz, Strategy and Marketing Manager, Ubisoft

  • Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment

  • Alisa Perren, Assistant Professor, Georgia State University

  • Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson, Executive Producers of Smallville

2:00--3:00 PM
Lunch Break

3:00--4:50 PM
Panel 3: Fan Interfaces: Intelligent Designs or Fan Aggregators?

Once relegated to the margins of society, today's media fans are often considered the "advance guard" that studio and network marketers eagerly pursue at Comi-Con and elsewhere to help launch virtual word-of-mouth campaigns around a favorite film, TV series, computer game, or comic book. Since tech-savvy fans are often the first to access Web 2.0 sites like YouTube, Wikipedia, and Second Life in search of a like-minded community, it was only a matter of time before corporate marketers followed suit. After all, these social networking sites provide media companies with powerful tools to manage fans and commit them to crowd-sourcing activities on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere.

Given the complexities and contradictions involved in negotiating between industry and audience interests, we will ask the game designers to explain their philosophy about the intended and unintended outcomes of their fan interfaces. Marketers clearly love it when fans become willing billboards for the brand either by wearing logo T-shirts or by dressing a favorite Madman avatar in the 1960s clothing, accessories and backgrounds on display on the AMCTV.com "Madmen Yourself" and then spreading the content through Facebook and Twitter.

What is the design philosophy behind a video game like Spore, which allows fans free range to create their own creatures and worlds but then limits their rights over this digital content? Who owns these virtual creations once they appear for sale on E-bay? These and other intriguing questions will be posed to the creative individuals responsible for designing many of these imaginative and engaging fan interfaces.

Moderator: Denise Mann
Panelists include:

  • Matt Wolf, Double 2.0, ARG/Game Designer

  • Avi Santos, Assistant Professor, Dominican College and Co-editor, FlowTV.com and In Media Res.com

5:00--6:50 PM
Panel 4: "It's About Time!" Structuring Transmedia Narratives

The rules for how to structure a Hollywood movie were established more than a century ago and even then, were inspired by ideas from earlier media -- the four-act structure of theater, the hero's quest in mythology. Yet, audiences and creators alike are still trying to make sense of how to fit together the chunks of a transmedia narrative. Industry insiders use terms such as mythology or saga to describe stories which may expand across many different epochs, involve many generations of characters, expand across many different corners of the fictional world, and explore a range of different goals and missions.

We might think of such stories as hyperserials, in so far as serials involved the chunking and dispersal of narrative information into compelling units. The old style serials on film and television expanded in time; these new style serials also expand across media platforms.

So, how do the creators of these stories handle challenges of exposition and plot development, managing the audience's attention so that they have the pieces they need to put together the puzzle? What principles do they use to indicate which chunks of a franchise are connected to each other and which represent different moments in the imaginary history they are recounting? Do certain genres -- science fiction and fantasy -- embrace this expansive understanding of story time, while others seem to require something closer to the Aristoltelian unities of time and space?

Moderator: Henry Jenkins
Panelists include:

  • Caitlin Burns, Transmedia Producer, Starlight Runner Entertainment

  • Abigail DeKosnik, Assistant Professor, University of California-Berkeley (Co-Editor, The Survival of the Soap Opera: Strategies for a New Media Era; Illegitimate Media: Discourse and Censorship of Digital Remix)

  • Jane Espensen, Writer/Producer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood.

  • John Platt, Co-Executive Producer, Big Brother, The Surreal Life

  • Tracey Robertson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Hoodlum

  • Lance Weiler, Founder, Wordbook Project

  • Justin Wyatt, Executive Director, Research at at NBCUniversal, Inc (High Concept: Movies and Marketing in Hollywood).

7:00 PM
Lobby, James Bridges Theater

James Bridges Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television

Tickets are $5 for faculty and students of accredited institutions and will only be sold at the box-office of the UCLA Central Ticket Office and at the door on the day of the event (prior registration required). Valid university I.D. is required. Registration includes admission to conference and reception.

General Public:
Tickets for the general public are $30. Registration includes admission to conference and reception. Please register: http://www2.tft.ucla.edu/RSVP/index.cfm?action=rsvp_form

Directions to UCLA:

Campus Map:

Parking Info:

Bus Info:

UCLA Producers Program
UCLA Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media
203 East Melnitz
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Phone: (310) 206-3761
Fax: (310) 825-3383
Email: producers@tft.ucla.edu
Web: www.tft.ucla.edu/producers

March 3, 2011

"Tony" Screening from Invisible Children

"Tony" Screening from Invisible Children

Thursday March 3, 2011 | 7:00pm | 34-101

On the whole, Invisible Children looks to provide humanitarian aid to displaced persons in northern, war-torn Uganda who have suffered from Africa's longest-running civil war. Moreover, they aim to provide shelter, safety, and education to children who were or would otherwise be child soldiers in the rebel army (the LRA, or the Lord's Resistance Army.)

This next chapter of Invisible Children's Bracelet Campaign is about Tony, and the struggles he faces as a child in this harsh region of the world.

The trailer for the film is embedded below.

For more information, visit the Invisible Children website.

This event is sponsored by the MIT UA funding board.

Tony Bracelet: Trailer from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

Jedidiah Jenkins--Director of Public & Media Relations, Invisible Children-- is a panelist on the following "Transmedia and Social Change" panel from FOE4.


December 16, 2010

Futures of Entertainment 5 (FOE5) - Fall 2011: Between Now and Then

We know: for those who live stateside, the Thanksgiving holiday was simply not the same without the belly full of ideas generated from our annual Futures of Entertainment (FOE) conference (which we usually host the weekend before Thanksgiving).  For our international friends, we realize we did not provide the usual excuse for your annual trip to Cambridge to visit with us and enjoy the FOE experience.

We took a break from FOE this year – and have scheduled Futures of Entertainment 5 (FOE5) for the fall of 2011 (date and time TBA).

For the uninitiated, FOE is the annual flagship event of the MIT CMS C3 research project.  A two-day conference, FOE has many defining characteristics that make it a singular conference-going experience, most notably:  

  • Long panel lengths (which allows panel participants and FOE attendees to really delve into the subject at hand - transcending a pure 'market' discussion);    

  • A commitment to a broad range of panel participants (spanning geographies, the public and the private sectors, the academy and the corporation – and everything in between); 

  • FOE is hosted by CMS and C3 and is held on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts (which allows for a different type of regional programming than, say, a conference held in New York or Los Angeles);   

  • A participatory system built into the programming of the event (appropriately named backchan.nl  -    - a tool developed by Joshua Green in collaboration with Judith Donath and Drew Harry at the MIT Media Lab) – complimented by a Twitter hashtag or two  (see #FOE4).

  • A strong network of CMS C3 alumni, consulting researchers and practitioners, as well as a growing list of FOE alumni who contribute to the rigorous programming of the event for months prior to the event. 
Of course, a masterful keynote presentation by Prof. Jenkins never hurt our cause either.

For our FOE regulars (in an effort to ease the FOE withdrawal symptoms we will all surely experience between now and November of 2011) following is a list of upcoming conferences, panels or events taking place in the months ahead (which will include programming, panels or topics consistent with MIT CMS C3 and FOE):

Transmedia, Hollywood: S/Telling the Story

In what has become our West Coast sister event, Professor Jenkins and UCLA Associate Professor Denise Mann will be hosting another Transmedia Hollywood event in the spring of 2011. Click here for the program from the inaugural event – and stay tuned to Prof. Jenkins'website for an announcement of the 2011 event.

Sundance Film Festival 2011 – Prof. Jenkins spoke at the 2010 festival and it is always a well programmed event.

SXSW  2011 – Prof. Jenkins has spoken many times at this annual event. Like Sundance, always a brilliant festival.


CMS Sponsored Events:

The Sandbox Summit 2011 - SAVE THE DATE!  Sandbox Summit®, The Education Arcade and MIT Comparative Media Studies 
have confirmed the dates for the 2nd annual 
Sandbox Summit@MIT
April 28 and 29, 2011.  Mark your calendars now for another brain-stretching, 
star-studded, fun-filled event. 
  For a look at past events, click here.

Media in Transition 7  (MIT7)– Another flagship CMS event, held every other year on the MIT campus.  MIT7 will take place May 12 – 15, 2011.  For previous events, click here.

ROFLcon – CMS Sponsored ROFLcon II last year.  Check in @ the ROLFcon website for information about the 2011 event.


The Open Video Conference is usually held in October of each year. Click here for more information. 

From our friends over at the Workbook Project, keep track of upcoming DIYDays events here.

Finally, from our brilliant colleagues at 5D, keep track of their upcoming events for 2011 here.

December 21, 2009

The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling

If you have yet to check out the videos from the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference, we hope that you'll take at least an hour of the upcoming holiday to sit down and listen to Henry Jenkin's keynote on transmedia storytelling. Above, we've embedded the video of his talk, and after the jump you can find Henry's essay explaining the key concepts of his thinking (cross-posted from his blog). Enjoy!

Continue reading "The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling" »

December 14, 2009

Futures of Entertainment 4: Videos, Shwag and More Thoughts on Transmedia

Point, the First:

If you were not able to attend the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference back in November, you're in luck: the videos are now available thanks to MIT TechTV. You can view the aggregation of videos here, or check out the individual talks and panels linked with their respective videos after the jump.

Point, the Second

If you were able to attend the FoE4 conference, you're probably in post-con withdrawal by now. So, why not push your FoE experience into the transmedia realm? Luis, our excellent artist and designer, has made FoE4 mugs -- featuring the cosplaying girls -- available for purchase here.

Her Excellency, Ana, pimping the FoE4 mug

Point, the Third

Last week, I published to the blog an article entitled Singing in the Living Room: Fueling the Business Model of FOX's Glee, which examines the music of Glee as a transmedia experience and how transmedia factors into Glee's business model. I sent out the link to Nancy Baym via Twitter (@nancybaym), who had questioned the relationship between transmedia and music while at the FoE4 conference. Along with Ana Domb Krauskopf (@anadk) and Xiaochang Li (@xiaochang), Nancy and I (@alexleavitt) responded in quick succession about our thoughts on approaching new and old aspects of transmedia that might inform future approaches to franchise studies. I found the discourse interesting and exploratory, so I've reproduced the conversation after the jump below!

Continue reading "Futures of Entertainment 4: Videos, Shwag and More Thoughts on Transmedia" »

December 10, 2009

Singing in the Living Room: Fueling the Business Model of FOX's Glee

Warning: This article on Glee might tend toward the meta, as while I write this article, I will be listening to the first Glee Soundtrack*: seventeen songs from Ryan Murphy's hit show on FOX. And the songs are exactly what I wish to discuss: the transmedia of music.

* The second soundtrack was actually released for sale two days ago on December 8th. If you want to listen to and/or purchase the first soundtrack, you can find it on iTunes or Amazon.


During the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference, as Henry Jenkins comments on his blog, "Nancy Baym asked us to think about when and how music has gone transmedia. We struggled to come up with examples - everyone of course immediately latched onto the ARG created around the Nine Inch Nails; I proposed the comic book Tattoo where artists and writers used Tori Amos songs as their inspiration." What I wish to bring into the limelight is that we've been participating in a musical transmedia experience of epic proportions for the past few months, on TV, on Hulu, on our iPods, and even in our living rooms: the rockin' music of Glee.

Before I continue to discuss how exactly Glee works as transmedia, let me discuss the concept of the fan experience. Henry also writes in the same paragraph, "The question looks different, though, if we ask about transmedia performance, because most contemporary musical artists perform across multiple media - minimally live and recorded performance, but also video and social network sites and Twitter..." Back in October, I wrote an article for the Consortium blog, Performing with Glee, which examines the fan (re-)production that has emerged on YouTube from reenacting scenes from Glee's television episodes. While this fan performance has pushed the Glee experience into a transmedial mode -- the total experience of interacting with the Glee "franchise" spreads across mediums, regardless of its production origins -- the fan activity obviously is not the same as the actual artists or content producers performing across mediums. I try to make the distinction obvious, especially by putting quotation marks around franchise, above, because when we consider transmedia, usually we apply the term franchise to the complete production consumed by the audience without taking into account the extensive continual experience that moves beyond the original production (think: Star Trek conventions, anime cosplayers, or even Superbowl celebration parades).

So I wish, in examining why Glee's business model has been so successful, to explain how Glee's business model has been so successful. And this is due to the fan experience.

Read more after the jump.

Continue reading "Singing in the Living Room: Fueling the Business Model of FOX's Glee" »

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 aleavitt@mit.edu.

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 Backchan.nl 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 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 Booktour.com 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 jeffvandermeer.com.

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 kevinsmokler.com, and is the CEO of BookTour.com.

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!

August 27, 2009

The Futures Are Near... Don't Miss Them!

It might only be August now, but here at C3 we are all about November these days; more specifically November 20th and 21st when we'll be hosting our fourth annual Futures of Entertainment Conference (FOE) in the Bartos Theater right here at MIT. This is our biggest public event of the year and a unique opportunity to bring together some of the most influential minds in media industries and academia.

FOE is neither an academic or an industry conference, it is not a place for pitches or for presenting a paper, but rather, it's a space for in depth discussion about issues that are of interest to us all, a place for us to imagine together what diverse futures might look like. Drawing industry and academic speakers together with researchers from the Convergence Culture Consortium, Futures of Entertainment 4 provides a unique opportunity to participate in dynamic discussions about the future entertainment and media landscape. Organized around a "talk-show" style model, with panelists participating in moderated discussions about key issues affecting the future of the culture and creative industries, Futures of Entertainment 4 brings clever thinkers from both industry and the academy together for long conversations. Over the last three years this has produced deep, thorough treatments of issues ranging from the ethics of social media, effective strategies for participating in virtual worlds, the future of media metrics and measurement, and the challenges of building compelling transmedia experiences.

This year, FOE will dedicate and entire day to discussing transmedia creation. We are now beyond the point where it's necessary to define what transmedia is, rather we'd like to explore the creative and business processes behind it, engaging with questions around managing, producing, financing and positioning transmedia efforts, as well as how to identify the value they create.

On the second day of the conference we'll focus on some of the other issues that have long been part of Convergence Culture Consortium's research agenda, such as fan activism, contemporary media business models, and the progressive blurring of distinctions between communication mediums.

If you want to stay up to date on the latest FOE-related news please visit http://futuresofentertainment.org/ or follow us on our brand new twitter account @futuresof. And remember on November 20th and 21st Cambridge is the place to be.

December 31, 2008

Happy New Year - FoE3 videos available

I just wanted to take a quick break from the Christmas/New Year's festivities to let you know the videos from November's third annual Futures of Entertainment conference have been put up online.

We took a little more time getting the videos up this year as we plan to push them out across a broader range of video-sharing platforms than we have before. For the moment, they are available from MIT's TechTV site. You can watch, comment on, and embed the videos from this site. In the coming weeks we will put them up on a range of other sites across the Internet.

Happy New Year everyone, from all of us here at C3; 2008 was a stimulating year, and we're looking forward to an equally provoking 2009.

November 28, 2008

Futures of Entertainment roundups

This year's futures of entertainment conference was a great success. We enjoyed two solid days of discussion, with clever panelists and a really engaged audience.

If you missed the event, we'll be posting podcasts of the sessions shortly. In the meantime, you can check out the C3 team's live-blogging of the event here.

Amber Case, who participated in a great panel on Social Media has a write up of the event here and here.

There are photos of the event here (courtesy of Geoffrey Long), here (courtesy of Amber Case). We have a large batch of photos we'll be uploading over the next week as well.

There was much tweeting throughout the event and afterwards, which you can check out here if you're interested. At one point we surpassed Twilight in the Twitterverse, which was a little bit of a thrill.

We'll be back next week with thoughts and commentary, and we'll let you all know when the podcasts and additional material are available. I'd like to take a moment to once again thank the C3 team, the staff at CMS, and our helpful volunteers for making this event happen, and to thank each of the panelists who came and sat down with us to talk about the current and future state of the media landscape. I hope that everyone who attended got as much from this event as I did; thanks for coming to spur the conversation along and push our thinking outwards. If you have your own notes posted, drop a note in the comments and I'll be happy to update the links.

November 23, 2008

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 7 - Global Flows, Global Deals

So we finished out FOE by trying to push some of the key themes of the conference into a global context, with panelists Nancy Baym (Personal Connections in a Digital Age), Robert Ferrari (Vice President of Business Development, Turbine Inc.) and Maurício Mota (Director of Strategy and Business Development, New Content Brazil).

The panel was moderated by C3 Reseacher Xiaochang Li (that would be me, for those of you playing at home) and Liveblogging was done by Harvard undergraduate Christina Xu.

Introduction of Panelists:

  • Nancy Baym: I study fans on the internet. I come at it from an interpersonal relationship and community building angle. I'm more interested in music fans than the narrative music, and how they relate to other fans in relation to pop culture material. I'm especially focused on Swedish/Scandinavian music flowing out of Swedish borders.
  • Bob Ferrari: VP of Business development, Turbine Inc. Looking at the online gaming side of the business. Turbine is a studio, 350+, based in Boston with a small office on the West Coast, that focuses on social (MMO) gaming. We build these deep dynamic worlds around brands (LoTR, D&D) and bring in hundreds of thousands of players into these live worlds and allow them to play & socialize. What I've been doing is driving it not just domestically, but also bringing them to other countries (Russia, starting South America, China/Hong Kong, Korea).
  • Mauricio Mota: Director of Strategy and Business Development, New Content. Pioneer company on branded content, leading the process of bringing transmedia storytelling to Brazil. Managing all of Unilever's 29 brands.

Videos by Mauricio and Bob (embedded to the C3 blog here

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 7 - Global Flows, Global Deals" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 6 - Intersection of Academy and Industry

The sixth panel of FOE put together a number of academics and industry specialists to talk over how the two areas could be mutually beneficial to one another. The panel was moderated by C3 alum Sam Ford and liveblogging provided by CMS graduate student Lan Le.

Amanda Lotz, The Television Will be Revolutionized (NYU Press), University of Michigan.
She was trained in a text-based manner that was probably typical of media studies. She now looks into how texts are made, investigating the gaps in our understanding of TV history, the norms of production, and TV's role in US culture. While not strictly ethnographic, her work is informed by industry interviews and observing how industry talks to itself. She did not feel the previous theories were adequate in addressing the granularity of industrial case studies. But what can we say about media industries?

John Caldwell, Production Culture (Duke University Press), UCLA.
He has a background in production and film. He works in film, TV, labor, and ethnographic work in Los Angeles. The last few days has made him feel like a dinosaur, even though he writes about the same subjects -- but on the side of the workers and not the marketing. He feels that branding is merely the crust of a much larger space, and focuses on the "below the line" workers in this industry whose stories are not often seen. He has always advocated the integration of production and theory, but realized eventually that there's a lot of antipathy between the two sides. Distributed creativity occurs in professional workforces, not just in fan bases. There's a real contention about who is authorized to talk about the industry. Often failed academics will be most angry at the study of industry. We are dealing with the construction of two things: industry and academics. There are a multiplicity of industries, not a monolith. They are only willing to work together so long as the money keeps flowing. Academics are themselves not comfortable with acknowledge themselves as a construction.

Grant McCracken, Transformations: Identity Construction in Contemporary Culture (Indiana University Press).
He sees himself as an anthropologist of contemporary culture. He splits his time between academic and industrial consulting work. The dual identity is rough, which points to issues of integration.

Peter Kim, Dachis Corporation.
He feels that he represents industry, working for Razorfish in Cambridge. He began working for General Electric at age 18 in the Audit Staff, proceeding to move through many industry positions and companies. His work at Puma was in corporate digital branding.


Sam: What is the value of the flow of information between industry and academia? What does each side need to give and recieve to make this a valuable exchange?

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 6 - Intersection of Academy and Industry" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 5 - Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding

Moderating is C3 alum Ivan Askwith. The panel includes Lance Weiler ( (Director Head Trauma and The Last Broadcast), Tom Casiello, Tom Boland (Daytime Emmy Award-Winning former writer of As the World Turns, One Life to Live, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless), Sharon Ross (Columbia College Chicago), and Gregg Hale (from Campfire and producer of the Blair Witch Project).

Liveblogging provided by CMS grad student Flourish Klink.

IA: How many people would classify themselves as soap fans? [a few] Wrestling fans? [fewer] So it may be valuable to sketch out some of the stuff they're working on in more detail which may provide a richer foundation for us to talk.

GH: So this is the latest thing we've finished at Campfire for True Blood.

[Descriptive video about transmedia storytelling ad campaign for True Blood]

LW: Head Trauma and what we did with the actual film - the movie is about the fragmentation of memory, a guy who comes back home after 20 years to settle his grandmother's estate and finds it inhabited by squatters; he hits his head and starts having recurring nightmares that start to turn into reality. So we started to play with what's real and what isn't. We started with interactive comics and there were all kinds of easter eggs and rabbit holes as you moved through it. And that was a gateway to some of the other experiences. It was a way that we were able to build the world out. We interjected mobile experiences so when the movie had a world premiere we handed out these Jack Chick-style comics and there were ciphers and clues within them. On the back it asks "do you want to play the game?" and when you called the number that's there you'd get the nemesis of the movie; they'd hang up and then we'd call or text them back. This continued back and forth. Even when you went to the website, we could figure out that you were on there and call you during your visit to it. Throughout the premiere there was a whole give and take with phones - about 86% of the audience was engaged mobilely. And we had an online series with all these subliminal things in it, and there was a remix area, where people could remix their own fragments. At one point when people showed up somewhere based on the clues in the game for a secret movie showing I ended up calling the LAPD and they came by with the helicopter and I executed all these SMS and phone calls saying things like "We're watching you!"

TB: Before we dive in I want to explain the marketing machine behind the WWE. Trust me when I say this is very big business.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 5 - Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 4 - When Comics Converge: Making Watchmen

For the first panel of Day 2, we opened with a case study of the making of The Watchmen film, based on the foundational Alan Moore graphic novel with Henry Jenkins, production designer Alex McDowell, and Alisa Perren from Georgia State University.

Liveblogging services this time around were provided by CMS grad student Lan Le.

Comics are now reaching us through multiple channels. We aren't just going to comic book stores to get our comic stories anymore. They're coming to us through movies, bookstores, online. So too has the image of the comics consumer changed to include larger, general audiences in addition to the core comics fans.

We began the talk by screen two different trailers for Watchmen, which is Alex McDowell's latest project. The first trailer was screened at Comic-Con, which was aimed at the fans of the comic book. The second trailer was constructed with a larger, general audience in mind. These trailers were to help us begin thinking about how the movie visually adapted the comic book material.

Alex: The movie is remarkably visually faithful to the book. Snyder is definitely a fan of genre and comic books first. Watchmen spent 20 years in development at various studios. The film has finally come into existance at time when, coincidentally or not, the satirical parallels have cycled back into political existance. While time has elapsed between the writing of Watchmen and it's film, Snyder has updated the film through layers of cultural reference and art design. Examples of the film's awareness of other pieces of science-fiction stories are echoed in the set design, referencing films such as Dr. Strangeglove and The Man That Fell to Earth. Working on the world of Watchmen was a great opportunity to "rip off every movie you ever liked."

Henry: It's no accident that the film is coming out now with the explosive of revival of the superhero genre in film.

Alisa: The film was greenlit October 2001, a month after 9/11. Cultural factors did exist to propel comic books into the cultural mainstream, yes, but industrial issues also shaped this revival. At first, it seemed that the growth of comic books in movies must have been due to a prior growth of comics. It's actually the opposite. Comic book sales declined or stayed very low during this period. The sales, it turns out, were driven by studios - not the reverse. Horizontal integration factors into this scenario. But there are also a new generation of exectives, writers, and artists who came of age in an era where sophisticated or literary comic books were the rage. These creative producers had greater appreciation for the source text and insisted on a greater fidelity to the source material. They tapped into an interactive fan culture that appreciates this too.

Alex: Hollywood is often a fan of the material.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 4 - When Comics Converge: Making Watchmen" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 3 - Social Media

Our last panel of Day 1, liveblogged by Christina Xu, current undergraduate student from Harvard and whom some of you know as one of the organizers of Roflcon last year.

Joe Marchese (socialvibe.com)
Amber Case (Hazelnut Consulting)
Sabrina Caluori (Director, Marketing and Promotions, HBO Online)
Kyle Ford, (Director of Product Marketing, Ning)
Rhonda Lowry (Vice President, Social Media Technologies, Turner Broadcasting)

Alice Marwick (grad student @ NYU)


  • RL: Has been working in social media for a while. She uses a separate online identity to research virtual worlds. It's hard to grok virtual worlds without understanding social media, so she took a role at Turner to get people to understand identity as construct, leveraging talents across mediums and how that can transform you & the marketplace.
  • JM: Brings brands into social media. We're the answer to how you're going to make money off of all of this. It's not easy: brands have the opposite problem of media (instead of where media is going, it's where their brands are NOT going). Each person is a micro-publisher, and now brands need to have relationships with lots of people. There's a myth that brands reach people through social media, but people reach people through social media.
  • KF: Direct of product marketing @ Ning. Been there for about 3 years. Crossed 600,000 social networks. Before that, was at Yahoo TV & Movie and Fox, doing television site.
  • AC: Cyborg anthropologist, studies what it's like to be on the online space and what happens when people upload parts of themselves online. Blogs for Discovery Channel.
  • SC: Marketing at HBO.com. Aggregates social media activities that happen across the company and try to gather them back into the brand by keeping communities online past specific events.

November 22, 2008

What if Capitão Nascimento had read Convergence Culture?

For anyone who had to miss the last panel at FOE3 and missed the great Convergence Culture fanvid (Thanks to Mauricio Mota at New Content for sharing this with all of us):

November 21, 2008

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 2 - Making Audiences Matter

Coming out of Henry and Yochai's conversation about networked media spaces and participatory culture, we headed into a discussion of value around audience, with liveblogging by CMS graduate student Flourish Klink.

Moderator Joshua Green: I want to address topics that have been brewing all day to discuss what the audience may be becoming - "the audience ain't what it used to be." So intro's...

Kim Moses: Exec producer of Ghost Whisperer.

Gail De Kosnik: Ass't prof in UC Berkeley Center for New Media

Vu Nguyen: Crunchyroll.com

Kevin Slavin: Area/Code - "games that have computers in them"

JG: In a transmedia world, what does the audience look like?

KM: I come from a very traditional place, a network television show - needs to have a v. broad appeal. So my goal is to "take back Friday nights" - took different media platforms in addition to TV to reach multiple groups.

GDK: Audiences today aren't just audiences, they think of themselves as makers. Are audiences also workers in the media industry?

VN: Audience more empowered & therefore demanding than ever. Crunchyroll's audience consumes media online primarily. Skews young because tech-savvy, less money, more time to invest.

KS: The conventional idea of "mass" is actually really constrained by the geography, distribution of a TV signal, at a certain time... assumptions are made in the production of conventional media because it is locationally, temporally situated. When those things go away that's REALLY mass - it can be to anyone anywhere at any time. That's a totally different thing. Part of the value of a conventional model is that there are those geographic, locational constraints. But now ad value goes down because it could be anyone, targeted ads are harder.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 2 - Making Audiences Matter" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Conversation -- Wealth, Value, and Social Production

Henry Jenkins and Yochai Benkler see themselves as a closely related, which that they had read each other's book in terms of thinking about differentially motivated players.

Nonprofit distribution of content - now we can begin there. In this moment of peer production, what are the nonprofit, public television.

YB: implications that I see are - 1. A change of role. In an environment where communicating with large groups, public media was uncorrelated with market flows of cultural production. That cost barrier isn't there anymore, so the necessity of sufficient level of ____ isn't there anymore. So is it the elite aspect of it? When you look at free software and open access books and the role of foundations that harness work of peers into whole. Nonprofits are becoming helping groups become more effective in what they do. Public media needs to
instead of producing educational materials that are stable good but to provide ways in which teachers can produce content. WGBH - Nova - convert content into spreadable media in ways that are pitched from a different perspective. Understanding the need for a locus of high capital production has become less important. What little public funds there are can go further if they're oriented toward provided opportunities for generating content rather than created fixed content. Mentione - sunlight foundation, apache software

HJ: Public tv used to provide diversity, but it couldn't provide the social network, the passion for diversity. In an era of social networks, PBS plays a role as a digital network. Very good at soliciting us as contributors but stops once pledge week ends. Function it plays in joining people into a real network

YB - not a non seq - WSJ creating a network of paid subscribers. A signal about what kind of person they are. Same thing possible with public television, except not an issue of payment but participation. Not sure if it would capture young people.

HJ: what;s your research showing about what motivates people to join social networks?

YB: not just social networks-- we're slowly coming to accept (loosely defined "we") that academia is dominated by a view of selfish rationality. Shared perception that this is largest modality of perception in social sciences. Image of Alan Greenspan - I relied on self-interest and it failed me. Not to be sneezed at. For me, free software as been particularly powerful in making this argument. Someone who relies on markets
renewed interest in mapping
catalog in an organized way what are human motivations
object is to come up with a sufficient usable set of clusters of human motivators, and then, what do I need to think about - using the terms of gift and worth and the gift economy. Tends to think in terms that are useful but partial. Examples - status, atomistic giving, reputation,
function of social capital - also interpersonal relatedness - a sense of identity
fascinating surveys of free software - why- reputation, expectation of future work, solving a particular problem - easily convertible into a self-interested problem. But, it turns about that people say 75% as a central aspect of their identity, of who they are, fairness, giving back, sheer pleasure, then reputations, etc. need to be part of sociality is important, what's right, fair, reciprocal, etc. Though guilt and shame can be part of it.

HJ: Web 2.0 includes economic motivations on one side and ---- on the other. How might it scrambled?

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Conversation -- Wealth, Value, and Social Production" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 1 -- Consumption, Value and Worth

First full panel of the day, with liveblogging services courtesy of CMS Graduate student Lana Swartz and CMS/C3 Alumni Sam Ford.

Liveblogger's Note: Hello, dear reader, I did the best I could to make this coherent, but now I need to eat foods.

HJ: This panel is really intended to extend the conversation, continuing to lay out the core vocabulary that was developed in earlier remarks


Rishi Dean - VP Visible Measures, working on metrics of the consumption of video content and advertising. Finds more about more that it's less about the technology and more about the dynamics of the medium and then working on how to leverage those dynamics

Anita Elberse - prof at Harvard Business School, media entertainment - media and entertainment industries - invited here likely because of an article on the Long Tail and why it might not be correct

Anne White - VP of programming Premiere Retail Networks - met Henry at at 5D conference last month, in charge of visualizing the future of advertising for Minority Report, who and what should be advertised in the future and placing it into the film, multimedia and branding projects, putting video everywhere and annoying people by targeting it directly to them. creative, but very strategic,

Renee Ann Richardson - doctoral student at HBS, working on status and brand status and authenticity, looks at what happens when there are counterfeits. Previously worked in marketing and advertising at Leo Burnett and LVMH

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 1 -- Consumption, Value and Worth" »

FOE3 Liveblog: Opening Remarks

We're Liveblogging (with slight time delay) FOE again this year, to tide everyone over until the podcasts come out.

First up are Opening Remarks by Henry Jenkins, with a welcome from Jason Schupbach, Creative Economy Industry Director for the MA Governor's office.

Thanks to CMS grad student Flourish Klink for liveblogging this panel.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Opening Remarks" »

Live-tweeting Futures of Entertainment 3.

A quick note: people interested in following C3's Futures of Entertainment 3 conference in real time should hop on Twitter and follow http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23foe3. There's a whole mess of current students, alums, consulting researchers, partners and interesting folks twittering away over there.

Those of you who are physically camped out here in the Bartos Theater at MIT with us, be sure to check out our Backchan.nl setup for realtime feedback and questions at http://foe3.backchan.nl.

November 18, 2008

Registration extended for Futures of Entertainment 3

Futures of Entertainment 3 is coming up this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21 & 22. There are still some tickets available for the event, so we've decided to keep registration open right the way through to Saturday. If you haven't registered yet, it's not too late.

One detail to note is that we have had to move the conference across campus to the Bartos Theater. Bartos is in the Wiesner building (where the Media Lab is located) and is where we have held the conference in the past.

We look forward to seeing you there.

November 16, 2008

Futures of Entertainment 3 - only a week out

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.

Continue reading "Futures of Entertainment 3 - only a week out" »

November 12, 2008

Update: Peter Kim Speaking at MIT FoE3

MIT Futures of Entertainment 3 is now just a little more than a week away. For those who have not yet registered and who are interested in coming, registration information is available here, and the full program is available here.

I'm honored to be invited by those organizing the conference this year to moderate a discussion on the intersection of academia and the industry, and I'm fortunate to be joined by some intriguing panelists. From the academic world, John Caldwell from UCLA and Amanda Lotz from the University of Michigan (one of the Consortium's consulting researchers) will take part. Grant McCracken, another of C3's consulting researchers, will also join in. Grant is an independent academic, regularly publishing academic books, as well as a consultant.

They will be joined by Peter Kim from the Dachis Corporation.

Peter is part of the founding team at Dachis Corporation, a stealth mode startup focusing on social technology. Earlier, Peter was a senior analyst at Forrester Research focusing on social computing and customer-centric marketing. His professional experience also includes positions as head of global digital marketing for PUMA AG, strategy network at Razorfish and research analyst at Coopers & Lybrand. Peter has served as a keynote, moderator, and panelist at public events including the Advertising Research Foundation, American Marketing Association, and Direct Marketing Association. He has also been widely quoted on social technologies and marketing by the press, including CBS Evening News, CNBC, CNN, NPR, The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Peter holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. He currently resides in Boston and blogs here.

I'm looking forward to seeing several of you at FoE3 next week and hope many of the folks who joined us over the past two years will be back in Boston next weekend!

Sam Ford is a research affiliate with the Consortium and Director of Customer Insights with Peppercom. He also writes for PepperDigital.

October 27, 2008

Yochai Benkler, Sabrina Calouri and David Glanzer confirmed for FoE3

As we roll on towards November's big event (US Election notwithstanding), we are pleased to confirm three new speakers for Futures of Entertainment 3.

Sabrina Calouri, of Director, Marketing and Promotions of HBO online will be joining our panel on social media. David Glanzer, Director Marketing and Public Relations for Comic-Con International will join our discussion about the future of the comics industry.

Finally, Yochai Benkler, Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School and the author of The Wealth of Networks will participate in a one-on-one conversation with Henry Jenkins (MIT) about the nature of value and the future of the media landscape.

We're tweaking the schedule and confirming final speakers as we get ready for November 21. The full rundown on the third Futures of Entertainment conference can be found here, including registration details.

October 21, 2008

Speaker Update - Futures of Entertainment 3

Just a quick note to say that yesterday we received the unfortunate news that due to some unavoidable scheduling issues that have arisen, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, creator of The Middleman, will no longer be able to join us at Futures of Entertainment 3 in November.

We're confirming final speakers for the conference and will update you all as they come in.

October 20, 2008

Registration open for Futures of Entertainment 3

As of this morning, registration is officially open for the third Futures of Entertainment conference, November 21 and 22, here at MIT.

For those of you who haven't attended Futures of Entertainment before, the conference is organized around panel discussions, bringing academics and industry thought leaders together to dig into the topics at hand. You can check out the panels from the 2007 event here. This year's conference will cover topics including understanding the reconfiguring site of media value, uncovering, working with and understanding audiences, global distribution flows in light of the Internet and migratory audiences, the convergence taking place in the comics industry, franchising, extensions and world-building, as well as the challenges of bringing the academy and industry together.

Continue reading "Registration open for Futures of Entertainment 3" »

October 9, 2008

Announcing: Futures of Entertainment 3

Ths site for C3's annual conference, the Futures of Entertainment, now in its third year, is now live.

Registration information will be soon to follow, and be sure to check in for updates to speaker lists as we start to finalize our panels in the upcoming weeks. This year promises to be exciting and provocative, as we push our themes of convergence and media spreadability onto the global stage, while not losing sight of central C3 issues such as transmedia storytelling and audience value.

To get an idea of what the Futures of Entertainment conference is like, check out last year's site and listen or view the podcasts.

More to come!

October 1, 2008

Around the Consortium: Looking Forward to FoE3 and Introducing Sheila Seles and Dan Pereira

Apologies to everyone for our blogging downtime – we've been running around settling into the new semester as well as getting acquainted with new consortium researchers and staff. We're already gearing up for FoE3 in November and are working to put together what promises to be an engaging and provacative series of panels around bringing together the themes from last year – media spreadability, audiences and value, social media, distribution – with our new projects heading into the new school year around an increasingly global view of media convergence and flow. Topics for this year's panels include global distribution systems and the challenges of moving content across borders, transmedia and world building, comics and commerce, social media and spreadability, and renewed discussion on how and why to measure audience value.

We should be up to our regularly scheduled blogging within the next week but in the meantime, for anyone who doesn't already know, I'm delighted to introduce our new graduate researcher, Sheila Seles, and our new research manager, Dan Pereira. Sheila is joining the Consortium after working with C3 consulting researcher Jason Mittell at Middlebury College. Her current research interests include television and the creative industries and the intersection of fan culture and activism. Dan comes to us with 15 years of experience with academic affiliations, management consulting, high tech entrepreneurial ventures and independent media projects. Please look forward to contributions from both of them in the near future!

In other Consortium news, fellow Researcher Ana Domb and I will be presenting work on the spreadable media environment and independent film distribution at DIY Days Boston on Saturday, October 4th.

August 29, 2008

Reminder: FoE3 This November

Since several people have e-mailed me of late to inquire again about the dates of this year's Futures of Entertainment 3 conference, I wanted to remind everyone of the information here through the blog. Be sure to make your travel plans soon! More information about guest speakers, panel topics, and specific times will be forthcoming soon.

As has been the case in previous years, the event is scheduled the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year, that will be Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22.

This year's event will be held in the Wong Auditorium in the Tang Center here at MIT, which will be a larger venue than the conference room that housed the first two iterations of this event.

Continue reading "Reminder: FoE3 This November" »

May 20, 2008

Reminder: MIT Futures of Entertainment 3 Date Set

Amidst all the flurry of late spring here in the academic world, we just wanted to post to the blog to reiterate that our Futures of Entertainment 3 event will be coming up again this November. As has been the case in previous years, the event is scheduled the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving.

This year, that will be Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22.

We are happy to announce that this year's event will be held in the Wong Auditorium in the Tang Center here at MIT, a larger venue from our first two events that we hope will even better accommodate the type of conversation we've sought to have at this event in previous years.

Continue reading "Reminder: MIT Futures of Entertainment 3 Date Set" »

April 22, 2008

Faris Yakob on Futures of Entertainment; Marlena on Soaps Class

Yesterday was Patriots Day here in Boston, so I'm in the midst of a flurry of updates this morning, as you may be able to tell. As part of this, I wanted to point toward a couple of recent references to the Consortium, our blog, and our work here at MIT.

First off, I have been meaning for some time to direct everyone's attention to this piece written by Naked Communications' Faris Yakob, from the first vresion of The Next Issue, which lists itself as "16 loose-leaf pages of opinion, news and views on the Next Issues facing the communications and design industries."

Continue reading "Faris Yakob on Futures of Entertainment; Marlena on Soaps Class" »

April 16, 2008

Dates Set for Consortium's Futures of Entertainment 3

This year's Futures of Entertainment conference the Consortium holds every November at MIT is set for Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22. The event will be held this year in the Wong Auditorium in the Tang Center here at MIT.

Continue reading "Dates Set for Consortium's Futures of Entertainment 3" »

April 2, 2008

MeioDigital Articles on the Consortium

The Consortium and events related to our work has received great coverage in Brazil of late, thanks to the work of Maurício Mota, who attended our Futures of Entertainment 2 conference back in November. The most recent edition of Brazil's MeioDigital magazine, from Meio & Mensagem, featured a total of 12 pages dedicated to the Consortium, FoE2, and a related story on Heroes, based in part on our hosting a couple of members of the Heroes team here at MIT last November.

The MIT Convergence Culture Consortium, its Futures of Entertainment 2 event, and the Program in Comparative Media Studies were all featured in an article entitled "Os Alquimistas Estão Chengando!," including insights from myself, C3 Research Manager Joshua Green, as well as a focus on Consortium director Henry Jenkins. Mota's article highlights of all of the Program in Comparative Media Studies' research groups and Henry's recent publications and blog. See the piece here.

Continue reading "MeioDigital Articles on the Consortium" »

January 9, 2008

Around the Consortium: FoE2, Ad Ubiquity, Tech News, Politics, and Social Issues

I wanted to start with a few stories and blog posts that are happening around the Convergence Culture Consortium this week.

First, Kevin Driscoll, a Comparative Media Studies graduate student here at MIT working with the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, ties some of the marketing rhetoric he heard from some industry folks at Futures of Entertainment 2 to the work of Lawrence Lessig.

Continue reading "Around the Consortium: FoE2, Ad Ubiquity, Tech News, Politics, and Social Issues" »

December 12, 2007

FoE2 Podcast: Cult Media

The final panel at our Futures of Entertainment 2 conference, on cult media, is now available fro download in audio form. The mobile panel from the first day will be made available in the coming weeks, and video on the rest of these panels will be available shortly.

The cult media panel, available here, features a conversation among Danny Bilson, Jesse Alexander of Heroes, Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner, and Gordon Tichell of Walden Media, moderated by Henry Jenkins.

Continue reading "FoE2 Podcast: Cult Media" »

FoE2 Podcast: Advertising and Convergence Culture

The first full panel on the second day of our Futures of Entertainment 2 conference, on advertising, is now available for download in audio form.

This panel, available here, features a conversation among Bill Fox of Fidelity Investments, Mike Rubenstein of the Barbarian Group, Baba Shetty of Hill/Holliday, Tina Wells of Buzz Marketing Group, and Faris Yakob from Naked Communications, moderated by Joshua Green.

Continue reading "FoE2 Podcast: Advertising and Convergence Culture" »

FoE2 Podcast: Jason Mittell, Jonathan Gray, and Lee Harrington

The opening comments panel on the second day of our Futures of Entertainment 2 conference is now available for download in audio form.

This panel, available here, features a conversation among three academic speakers--C3 Consulting Resercher Jason Mittell of Middlebury College, Jonathan Gray of Fordham University, and Lee Harrington of Miami University, moderated by me.

Continue reading "FoE2 Podcast: Jason Mittell, Jonathan Gray, and Lee Harrington" »

December 10, 2007

FoE2 Links: Anderson Podcast and Rik Hunter

I wanted to start Monday morning by rounding out a few new links coming out of the Futures of Entertainment 2 conference.

First, Kare Anderson over at Moving from Me to We wrote a piece on this year's Futures of Entertainment 2, which also includes excerpts from an interview she conducted with me regarding the event.

Meanwhile, Rik Hunter, a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the composition and rhetoric program in the university's English department, provides a lot of notes from the conference on his site, Canned Goods.

Continue reading "FoE2 Links: Anderson Podcast and Rik Hunter" »

December 7, 2007

FoE2 Podcast: Fan Labor

The final panel on the first day of our Futures of Entertainment 2 conference, on fan labor, is now available for download in audio and both high-res and low-res video form.

This panel is available here in audio and video form. The video is intended for download, and some browsers may try to display text if you don't right-click the link to save to your computer. If your browser tries to download it as a ".txt," remove the ".txt" from the name, and the file should work as an "m4v."

The panel features a conversation among Mark Deuze of Indiana University, Jordan Greenhall of DivX, Raph Koster of Areae, Elizabeth Osder of Buzznet, and Catherine Tosenberger of the University of Florida, moderated by Henry Jenkins.

Continue reading "FoE2 Podcast: Fan Labor" »

FoE2 Podcast: Metrics and Measurement

The first panel from the conference, on mobile media, will be available shortly. However, we now have the metrics and measurement panel from FoE2 available for download in audio and video forms.

The metrics and measurement panel, available here, can be accessed in audio, 320x240 video, and 640x480 video. The video is intended for download, and some browsers may try to display text if you don't right-click the link to save to your computer. If your browser tries to download it as a ".txt," remove the ".txt" from the name, and the file should work as an "m4v."

here for download, features a conversation among Maury Giles of GSD&M Idea City, Bruce Leitchman of Leitchman Research Group, Jim Nail of Cymfony, and Stacey Lynn Schulman of Turner Broadcasting, and moderated by me.

Continue reading "FoE2 Podcast: Metrics and Measurement" »

FoE2 Podcast: Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green

We're excited to make the first of our events from the recent Futures of Entertainment 2 conference here at MIT available for download. Each of the panels from the conference are available in both video and audio form.

The panels are available here. Here is audio and video. The video is intended for download, and some browsers may try to display text if you don't right-click the link to save to your computer. If your browser tries to download it as a ".txt," remove the ".txt" from the name, and the file should work as an "m4v."

The opening comments features C3 Director Henry Jenkins and C3 Research Manager Joshua Green discussing some of the media industries trends in 2007. These opening comments helped set the agenda for what would be covered in the six panels to follow at FoE2.

Continue reading "FoE2 Podcast: Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green" »

December 2, 2007

Writing About FoE2: Around the Blogosphere (3 of 3)

A variety of folks wrote summaries of several different panels simultaneously or referenced the conference as a whole. Faris Yakob wrote about the conference here, here, and here. Faris also provided a piece on FoE2 for Contagious.

C3 Consulting Researcher Grant McCracken provides his take on FoE2 here and here. Meanwhile, see Jonathan Gray's take on the conference at The Extratextuals.

Darren Crawforth provided a report from FoE2 for PSFK.

Continue reading "Writing About FoE2: Around the Blogosphere (3 of 3)" »

Writing About FoE2: Around the Blogosphere (2 of 3)

Below is a list of the blogs and pieces that reflected on or recapped Friday afternoon and Saturday's panels from our Futures of Entertainment 2 conference here in mid-November. See the first post of links here.

The C3 team provided its live blogging for the metrics and measurement panel here, with further notes from John Eckman, Carina Enbody, Ian Fitzpatrick, Marissa Gallagher, and Rachel Clarke's writing at Behind the Buzz. Also, over at just another planner, Bogdana Butnar weighs in.

Continue reading "Writing About FoE2: Around the Blogosphere (2 of 3)" »

Writing About FoE2: Around the Blogosphere (1 of 3)

Between Futures of Entertainment 2 on Nov. 16 and 17 and Thanksgiving the next week, we've been in the process of trying to catch up on internal research projects and finish out what was really a fantastic conference, as far as we felt. Thanks to everyone who came, both panelists and audience members, for making it such a fantastic conversation. The plan is to have the audio and video from the conference made available, panel by panel, over the next few days, so be sure to come back here continuously for the latest.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with all of our readers many of the interesting accounts that have been posted around the blogosphere from FoE2. Over the next three posts, I'll link to a variety of these conversations, as a preview of those podcasts.

In this post, I'm linking to the posts for the pre-conference and some of the first day's events.

First, the MIT Communications Forum with Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw from Heroes was covered by C3 Graduate Researcher Lauren Silberman for this blog, here and here.

Continue reading "Writing About FoE2: Around the Blogosphere (1 of 3)" »

November 18, 2007

FoE2: Cult Media

Danny Bilson,
Transmedia Creator

Jeff Gomez,
Starlight Runner

Jesse Alexander,

Gordon Tichell,
Walden Media

Panel moderated by Henry Jenkins, MIT

The live-blogging effort comes from current CMS Graduate Students Kevin Driscoll, Joshua Diaz, and Debora Lui.

Continue reading "FoE2: Cult Media" »

November 17, 2007

FoE2: Advertising and Convergence Culture

The second panel of the day was on Advertising and Convergence Culture. Speakers included Mike Rubenstein of the Barbarian Group, Baba Shetty of Hill/Holliday, Tina Wells of Buzz Marketing Group, Faris Yakob from Naked Communications, and Bill Fox of Fidelity Investments.

The panelists talked about the challenges and successes that they have encountered as marketers and advertisers in a convergent media environment, the problem of relinquishing total control over brands, user generated content and social media.

Live blogging for this session are Kevin Driscoll, Xiaochang Li, and Eleanor Baird.

Continue reading "FoE2: Advertising and Convergence Culture" »

FoE2: Opening Comments for Day Two

Day two of the Futures of Entertainment began this chilly Cambridge morning with opening remarks by Jason Mittell, Middlebury College; Jonathan Gray, Fordham University; Lee Harrington, Miami University. Sam Ford, C3's Project Manager moderated.

In this session, the panelists talked about the "holy trinity" of media studies scholarship, tensions between industry and academia, qualitative versus quantitative understandings of audiences, and improving the connections between academics and insdustry in the future.

Live blogging the session were Xiaochang Li, Josh Diaz and Eleanor Baird.

Continue reading "FoE2: Opening Comments for Day Two" »

November 16, 2007

FoE2: Fan Labor

Fan Labor was the topic for the third and final panel of the first day of FoE2.

The speakers were Mark Deuze, Jordan Greenhall, Catherine Tosenberger, Elizabeth Osder, Raph Koster.

Taking over live blogging duties were Lauren Silberman, Lan Le, and Lana Swartz.

Continue reading "FoE2: Fan Labor" »

FoE2: Metrics & Measurement

The second panel at FOE2 is focused on metrics and audience measurement.
Sam Ford is moderating, and participating in the panel are:

  • Bruce Leichtman (Leichtman Research Group)
  • Stacey Lynn Schulman(Turner Broadcasting)
  • Maury Giles (GSD&M Idea City)
  • Jim Nail (TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony)

As with the last panel, two hours of typing notes is tasking enough by itself -- so these entries might be a little bit disjointed, and have more typos than our usual posts. Sorry about that.

And: taking over live-blogging duties for this panel are CMS graduate students Lana Swartz and Deb Lui.

Continue reading "FoE2: Metrics & Measurement" »

FoE2: Mobile Media

The first panel at FoE2 is focused on mobile media.

Participating in the panel are:

  • Marc Davis (Yahoo)
  • Bob Schukai (Turner Broadcasting)
  • Alice Kim (MTV Networks)
  • Anmol Madan: Madan (MIT Media Lab)

And, joining the live-blogging effort are current C3 researchers Xiaochang Li and Lauren Silberman.

Continue reading "FoE2: Mobile Media" »

FoE2: Opening Remarks

The opening remarks at this year's FUTURES OF ENTERTAINMENT conference are being made by Henry Jenkins, director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies, and Joshua Green, research manager for C3.

Participate in the backchannel in real-time at backchan.nl.

Continue reading "FoE2: Opening Remarks" »

Liveblogging from the Future (of Entertainment)

Strange to be writing in the C3 blog again, now that I'm no longer a researcher-in-residence, but the Futures of Entertainment conference -- now in its second year -- is beginning to serve a secondary function as a sort of C3 homecoming. And, since most of the C3 team are working in overdrive just to keep the conference moving at an even keel, I'll be helping out with the live-blogging duties, in case any of you at home want to keep up with what's happening here.

Helping out in this task are Derek Johnson, a doctoral student and kindred soul from U. Wisconsin-Madison, and Lan Le, a first year grad student in CMS -- both of whom, at the moment, are too busy taking notes to introduce themselves.

So, keep checking back. We'll try to refresh and update the posts several times during each panel, in case those of you following along here want to pass along questions or comments as part of the proceedings. (Think of it as a transmedia conference.)

Up next: opening remarks from Henry Jenkins, director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies, and Joshua Green, research manager for C3.

Madan and Nail Join FoE2 Line-Up

Today is the launch of Futures of Entertainment 2. It's the wee hours of the morning now, and we're trying to get everything prepared for what we hope is a stimulating conference for academics and industry execs alike. We have a variety of folks coming in from around the country, and internationally, and from what looks to be about an even split of academic and industry registrants. We're hoping that it will lead to some stimulating conversation, on par with the energy developed around last year's event.

One thing I wanted to note before the conference begins is that we have had a couple of late additions to the program. Francesco Cara from Nokia will no longer be able to make it here for the mobile media panel this morning, so we will be joined by Anmol Madan of the Media Lab here at MIT.

Also, Jim Nail from Cymfony has been added to the list of speakers for the metrics and measurement panel this afternoon.

Continue reading "Madan and Nail Join FoE2 Line-Up" »

November 15, 2007

A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (2 of 2)

This is the second part of my recap of the MIT Communications Forum event with Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw from Heroes earlier this evening. For some other interesting takes on this, see this piece on TheoLib, and C3 Consulting Researcher Jason Mittell's piece.

Adapting to the Audience

Both Jesse and Mark spoke about the realities that exist with their Internet enabled audience and how they are trying to adapt to the realities that exist with how their audience views the show. They understand that experiencing shows at one's own pace is a much more enjoyable experience then live may be. Week-to-week, there is a lot to remember, and the online space is a great way to add narrative and help fill in the blanks. Having to remember specific narratives from specific episodes is difficult because it means viewers have to be keeping close track. From a creative side, they are trying to help people catch up and keep viewers who have been watching live be engaged week to week.

Continue reading "A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (2 of 2)" »

A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (1 of 2)

First, here is the official information on the event:

The fragmenting audiences and proliferating channels of contemporary television are changing how programs are made and how they appeal to viewers and advertisers. Some media and advertising spokesmen are arguing that smaller, more engaged audiences are more valuable than the passive viewers of the Broadcast Era. They focus on the number of viewers who engage with the program and its extensions -- web sites, podcasts, digital comics, games, and so forth. What steps are networks taking to prolong and enlarge the viewer's experience of a weekly series? How are networks and production companies adapting to and deploying digital technologies and the Internet? And what challenges are involved in creating a series in which individual episodes are only part of an imagined world that can be accessed on a range of devices and that appeals to gamers, fans of comics, lovers of message boards or threaded discussions, digital surfers of all sorts? In this forum, producers from the NBC series Heroes discussed their hit show as well as the nature of network programming, the ways in which audiences are measured, the extension of television content across multiple media channels, and the value that producers place on the most active segments of their audiences.

Continue reading "A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (1 of 2)" »

November 12, 2007

Looking back at FoE: Not the Real World Anymore

The final panel at last year's Futures of Entertainment 2, like the mobile media panel this year, focused on a particular media outlet, in this case virtual worlds. The discussion included John Lester from Linden Labs, Ron Meiners from Mplayer.com, and Todd Cunningham from MTV Networks, who we work with closely, as well as Eric Gruber from MTVN.

Todd will be able to join us again this year as a conference attendee, and we're glad to have Alice Kim from MTVN on our panel discussing mobile media.

The panel, called "Not the Real World Anymore," is available in audio here and in video here.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Not the Real World Anymore" »

Looking back at FoE: Fan Cultures

Last year's panel on fan cultures was one of the greatest precursors to the direction this year's conference has taken. Our discussions on fan labor, cult media, and even the audience measurement panel will deal with issues that were first raised in last year's fan cultures panel, which we live-blogged here.

The audio from last year's panel is available here, and the video is available here.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Fan Cultures" »

Looking back at FoE: Dr. Joshua Green on Viscerality

The second day of Futures of Entertainment last year began with a discussion led by Dr. Joshua Green, C3's Research Manager. Green will be helping to lead the opening comments of the conference with Dr. Henry Jenkins on Friday morning and will be moderating two of the panels at the conference.

Last year's presentation from Green focused on viscerality in a convergence culture. The audio of the presentation is available here, and the video is available here.

Green, whose bio is available here, has helped direct several exciting new strands of research at the Consortium this year, and the panels planned for the conference this year are indicators of the types of issues we've been tackling in our internal work that Joshua directs and what I've written here on the blog, along with our graduate students.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Dr. Joshua Green on Viscerality" »

Looking back at FoE: Transmedia Properties

The final panel on Friday of last year's Futures of Entertainment focused on transmedia properties, in what is a precursor to a couple of the discussions taking place this year, perhaps most notably the conversation on cult media properties, which might be particularly ripe for transmedia storytelling.

The audio from this panel is available here, and the video is available here.

For those who haven't seen it, our panel on cult media this year will feature a variety of people steeped in knowledge of transmedia storytelling: Danny Bilson, who has written for a variety of media platforms; Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner; Gordon Tichell with Walden Media; and Jesse Alexander with Heroes.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Transmedia Properties" »

Looking back at FoE: User-Generated Content

The second panel on the first day of Futures of Entertainment last year was focused particularly on user-generated content. The panel provides a good precursor to a lot of the issues to be discussed this year in the "fan labor" panel.

For those who have not seen it, the description of our "Fan Labor" panel this year reads, "There is growing anxiety about the way labor is compensated in Web 2.0. The accepted model -- trading content in exchange for connectivity or experience -- is starting to strain, particularly as the commodity culture of user-generated content confronts the gift economy which has long characterized the participatory fan cultures of the web." The full description is available on the program, here.

Last year's "User-Generated Content" panel was live blogged here on the C3 site, available here. The conversation included Rob Tercek, who is president and co-founder of MultiMedia Networks; Caterina Fake, Tech Development at Yahoo!/Flickr; Bubble Project founder Ji Lee; and BioWare Director of Design Kevin Barrett.

Audio is available here, and video is available here.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: User-Generated Content" »

Looking back at FoE: Television Futures

The first panel at last year's Futures of Entertainment focused on "Television Futures," featuring a variety of interesting speakers who discussed where the television industry was headed from a variety of perspectives. While there is no video available from the panel, audio can be found here.

The panel was live-blogged on the C3 blog here. We wrote about their discussion on issues such as "What Has Caused This Period of Increased Experimentation?," "The Shifting Relationship of Television in the Media Industry," "Television in a VOD and Netflix World," and "Bypassing the Networks."

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Television Futures" »

Looking back at FoE: Henry Jenkins' Opening Comments

Now that the week of Futures of Entertainment 2 is upon us, much of our mindspace and time are being dedicated to planning for the conference. In light of that, we thought it might be good to look back at each of last year's events, since this year's panels look to build off the conversations we started at the initial Futures of Entertainment last November. Over the next several posts, we are going to link back to discussions from each of the panels in hopes of providing some starting points of discussion for this year's registrants, many of whom we hope are keeping up with the C3 blog.

For those of you who won't be able to join us this year, we hope these resources from last year's conference gives you some idea of what will be happening here this weekend and serve as a precursor to the live-blogging that will be taking place here on our site and hopefully across many of this year's registrants.

We're going to start out by looking at Henry Jenkins' opening address from last year.

Continue reading "Looking back at FoE: Henry Jenkins' Opening Comments" »

October 6, 2007

Spreading the Word about FoE2

This past week, registration opened for our second annual Convergence Culture Consortium and Program in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) co-sponsored conference, Futures of Entertainment 2. More updates will be forthcoming over at the FoE2 Web site.

We will be including full speaker bios and headshots over the next few days for all the speakers on our various panels, among other things.

For more, see our last few posts, including our announcement of the conference, Henry Jenkins' notes on the conference, and a look back at the first event last year. However, word about FoE2 has been popping up elsewhere across the Web as well.

Continue reading "Spreading the Word about FoE2" »

Looking Back at Futures of Entertainment 2006

For those of you who may have been hearing recently about this year's Futures of Entertainment 2 conference (see the site here), but who may not have been able to attend last year's event, I wanted to go back into the archives and share more information about last year's event.

The site is still up, available here. As I noted back in August, there are audio and/or video podcasts up from the panels last year.

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Announcing Futures of Entertainment

I ran this announcement about Futures of Entertainment 2 over at my blog, but I wanted to crosspost it here as well, for those who might be interested in more details about the communication forum that will appear before FoE2 and more information on the panels and last year's conference.

Many readers attended last year's Futures of Entertainment conference, which brought together leading figures from film, television, games and virtual worlds, advertising, comics, and other media industries for an indepth discussion of some of the trends impacting our contemporary mediascape. If you missed this event,you can check out the podcasts here and read a report on it written by Jesse Walker for Reason online here.

Well, we were so excited by the quality of last year's event that we decided to host a second Futures of Entertainment conference with new topics and a new cast of characters. The event is sponsored by the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Convergence Culture Consortium.

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October 2, 2007

Registration Opens Today for Futures of Entertainment 2

Today brings with it the official opening of registration for Futures of Entertainment 2 (FoE2), the conference here at MIT in November co-sponsored by the Convergence Culture Consortium and the Program in Comparative Media Studies. For more, see the FoE2 site. Read more for the full press release.

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August 8, 2007

Futures of Entertainment 2 Planned for Nov. 16-17

Futures of Entertainment 2The Convergence Culture Consortium, in conjunction with the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, will host their second annual MIT Futures of Entertainment conference on Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17, on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

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January 29, 2007

Low-Cost Tools in Media Production - Hype or Hope?

After acclaimed film editor Walter Murch's proof-of-concept use of Apple's Final Cut Pro for editing Return to Cold Mountain in 2003, a second, more bizarre attempt at using commercial off-the-shelf software for professional media production has come to public attention: guitarist and producer Ry Cooder mastering his latest album using the 'sound enhancer' feature built into iTunes. While both stories have much news value, a factor that should not be neglected after all, these episodes allow for a critical look at the perceived 'democratization' of professional media production and changes in workflow and production rationales.

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December 1, 2006

FOE: SpellCast--Episode 11

Yesterday, the 11th episode of the Harry Potter fan podcast SpellCast was released. This episode features Gwendolyn's interviews with several people from the Futures of Entertainment conference. Be sure to check it out!

November 20, 2006

FOE: Reason Report on the Conference

In addition to the blog posts about the Futures of Entertainment conference, check out the Reason report from FOE by Jesse Walker.

There is also a piece from Henry Jenkins on anime with Reason, available here, with reader comments here.

November 19, 2006

FOE: Bloggers Respond to Panels at Conference

Here is a list of a few blog responses from folks at the Futures of Entertainment Conference:

-Several live reports from Licnece to Roam by Rachel Clarke.

-Gwendolyn with the SpellCast podcast for Harry Potter fans covers FOE in Episode 11. Also, check out her interview with Henry Jenkins in Episode 10.

-My Brilliant Mistakes by Cynthia Closkey (and a followup here).

-Big Secret Pizza Party from Amber Finlay.

-Off on a Tangent by Steve Garfield. Steve also posted pictures here.

-Erica George's comments about the conference at Writing in Clay are available here, here, and here.

-Adrian at do.palicio.us wrote this about the transmedia panel.

-A Place in the Fire by Alec Austin.

-See Kent Quirk's post on Global Warming Can Be Fun about Joshua Green's opening presentation on Saturday.

-See Julie Levin Russo's live-to-tape blogging of the fan cultures panel at Cyberorganize.

-C3 Principal Investigator Beth Coleman also responded and summarized FOE on the Project Good Luck blog.

-Also, check out this reaction to the Not the Real World Anymore panel at KnowProSE.

-And Paul Levitz's involvement was covered on Publishers Weekly's The Beat blog on comics culture.

-The IDEA(R)S blog gave its thumbs up to the speakers on the fan cultures panel.

FOE: Not the Real World Anymore

The following wraps up our report of the Futures of Entertainment conference. Geoff Long took the onus of reporting on this final panel, with some help from Ivan Askwith and me. Thanks again to Geoff and Ivan for their work on getting this together. Geoff provided a partial transcript from the event. Also, you can see Rachel Clarke's notes here. Also, see Erica George's notes at Writing in Clay. There is also a reaction to this partial transcript at KnowProSE.

The final panel of the day, "Not the Real World Anymore", focused on the phenomenon of virtual worlds. The panelists were John Lester from Second Life's Linden Labs, Ron Meiners from Multiverse Online, and Todd Cunningham from MTV Networks, who was accompanied by producer Eric Gruber, who ran Cunningham's demo of Virtual Laguna Beach.

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November 18, 2006

FOE: Fan Cultures

Fan Cultures
Biographical information for each panelist is available here.

Diane Nelson, President of Warner Premiere for Warner Brothers. Diane talks about her role with digital content production and her work over the past six years managing the Harry Potter franchise for Warner Brothers and the implications of fan communities on global brand management. She also discussed the fascinating global and cross-platform characters the company deal with like Batman, Superman, and Willie Wonka. "As new as everything going on in media and technology is, it's all very much the same." She said the underlying themes for discussing fan communities is understanding the consumer as people and their motivations in using the brand and the need to respect them. "Respect is the single biggest word I would use in relation to fans or any consumer, for that matter." Using her work with Harry Potter as an example, she said that fans begin to feel a sense of ownership over property once they become involved. "How deeply that shows itself is a wide spectrum," she said, from fanatical expressions or just expression in purely economic forms. "Who they are and what's driving them particularly is important if we want to speak to fans with any relevance and authenticity."

Molly Chase, Executive Producer of New Media Department, Cartoon Network. Molly discussed her work with the Cartoon Network site and its Hispanic equivalent for its Hispanic-American fans. She emphasized that her employees are definitely fans of the media they promote, which they feel sets them aside from some other networks. She said that she feels that respect is a theme in dealing with fans. For Molly, the idea of respecting fans and respecting content is closely intertwined, in language that positions the fans close to the content. By correlating the fans with the content, it creates a distinction where fans seem to have some autonomy and power in relation to understanding and managing content. She also talked about creating a range of experiences for a particular show, that would allow someone to play a simple game for five minutes as content online or a yearlong game that expands over time, depending on how deeply one is a fan of the entertainment property.

danah boyd, UC-Berkeley Ph.D. student and social media researcher for Yahoo! and Annenberg School fellow. She discussed her work in doing ethnographies for social networking sites, most recently with MySpace, through the sites' presences in both U.S. and global spaces. She looks in particular at the types of fan behaviors and how that disrupted what was intended in the beginning to be dating sites, and now what types of teen practices have shocked parents with MySpace in particular. "For me, it's about looking at the way collective processes are happening and the way outsiders get to see this because of the popularity of the phenomenon." danah talked about ownership and the agency that fans have to take entertainment properties and making it part of their own identities. "Why do we go out and shop and play with brands and mix and match and come out with clothing that expresses ourself? One of the cool things you see with digital embodiment, such as the notion of profiles, is to take cultural artifacts that you see as part of your life into a digital form to share something about who you are." She discusses the feeling of empowerment that comes along with mastering this material. For instance, she sees the kitsch blending of various brands and images of MySpace profiles as being much like the average teenager's room. danah's writings are available on her site.

Also, see Rachel Clarke's post about this panel with more detailed transcripts of the event. You can also see Erica George's notes at Writing in Clay.

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FOE: Futures of Entertainment Pics Up on Flickr

There are a variety of pictures from Futures of Entertainment going up on Flickr, available here.

We invite you to join the C3 Flickr group and upload photos, or to tag your photos from the conference "futuresofentertainment".

FOE: Joshua Green's "Viscerality and Convergence Culture"

Joshua Green
C3 Research Director and MIT Comparative Media Studies post-doc Dr. Joshua Green opened the conference this morning with his presentation of "Viscerality and Convergence Culture." Ignoring the fact that "viscerality" is not a word, and Joshua revealed his blatant disregard for the English status quo, his talk focused on the ways in which people want to internalize and humanize technology, how the average person does not care about these technologies except in ways that they facilitate their desire for expanding and extending human contact.

The talk, inspired by a walk in the rain with his iPod, was fueled by an anecdote Joshua shared with the readers. New to MIT and the country, Joshua spent most of his life in Australia. Now, all that he brought of himself, in many ways, was that iPod. "I'm not a music person before, but now I care about it," he said. "I suck it in now and feel passionate in a way that I didn't before." He points out that, by moving to America for this job, he has left a phase of his life he cannot necessarily return to. "None of my things are there anymore, and that's not a life I can go back to. The place it does exist in now is in my iPod. I no longer have a home in Australia, just a room at my parents' house backed with boxes. And it's not the iPod, but that's the only thing I can pack my social existence into."

He points to a quote about the Zune in which it was called a "software experience." He says, "The sharing that the Zune enables requires you to play by its rules. And, in the conversion environment at the present moment, we don't play by technology's rules. We bash, smash, and hit technology until it plays by our rules." And that's where he sees the distinction between the Zune and the iPod. It's the difference in relationship that's perceived about being about software and one that is about social relations. He points out that his relationship with his iPod and MacBook Pro feels like a relationship because it feels social. "It is a device for sharing culture. The way in which I utilize this device is one to facilitate sharing culture."

On the other hand, he doesn't completely buy into iCult, and he makes the point that these opening remarks are not intended to be a celebration of the brand without reservations. "I enjoy my relationship with this machine more than the other Toshiba box I had before, but iTunes has DRM and now they've cornered the market." He said that it's not the technology but the social interaction that it enables and encourages. He says that these types of social interactions is what companies are starting to get, and he points to Comedy Central's recent assurances at not taking all Comedy Central clips off YouTube as an example.

He points to examples from various Internets as his example of how the technology is used as social relationships. In making fun of the Ted Stevens "tubes" reference to the Internet, Joshua points to the user-generated responses to his idea of tubes. One was very scientific, the type of industrial containers you would see around MIT with those danger hazardous stickers on them. The other model is Fallopian tubes. Hedescribed the top one as being about technology, while the ladder is about organicness and squishiness. He asserts that the increasing acceptance of identity politics and the politics traditionally ascribed to a female domain in consumerism and fandom, etc., makes the Fallopian tubes of the Internet perhaps a better analogy.

In addition to this discussion about tactile relationships and viscerality, Joshua discussed the distinction between impressions and expressions. Impressions, as the old model, is when we send messages out that leave impressions on to users that prompt them to do something. When you understand tactile relationships, though, Joshua said that you encourage audiences to speak in some way. "When the product is transformed from commodity to culture, though, you have to cede control because it's no longer yours," he said, "but it's okay."

However, Joshua's presentation was very visual in nature, very visceral as the very title implies, so the video will be essential when it is made available for viewing over the next few days. Check back here and at The Futures of Entertainment site for more information. Also, see Rachel Clarke's notes on Joshua's presentation at Licence to Kill. Also, Kent Quirk has his take of Joshua's presentation at Global Warming Can Be Fun. Finally, you can see Erica George's notes at Writing in Clay.

Also, see a recent post and discussion here on the Zune's release.

November 17, 2006

FOE: Transmedia Properties

Transmedia Properties
Paul Levitz, President and Publisher of DC Comics. Paul's early comments focus on the tools that are available now which open whole new realms of storytelling. To paraphrase, his opening remarks were that, "for cartoonists and comic book writers and artists, the potential of using our tool set and forms for a wider range of people and for evolving forms of transmedia has been something that has been a minute away for the last decade, it seems, and appears to be here now." He also traced direct forms of transmedia storytelling in America back to James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy, which appeared in 1821 as a novel and 1822 as a play, as well as the history of The Wizard of Oz through its various book, play, and film forms over the years. "You have people building Troy on top of Troy on top of Troy, 100 years of creative development layered on top of each other. That's the process of transmedia." Alex Chisholm also pointed to the development of Christianity and the spread of Jesus Christ as a figure in the early years as, in many ways, a transmedia project. He also made the comment that the idea of a mass media form that reaches everyone on two or three channels "don't work so good no more." "If you are an advertiser searching to get a large audience, you can either build out of big blocks that aren't as big as they used to be or you can start breaking away from the tyranny of 30-second messages and find cool new creative things people have been responding to. And you'll see combinations of the two, both 30-second spots and transmedia pieces."

Alex Chisholm, Founder of Ice Cub3d Studios. Chisholm, who has an ongoing relationship with the Comparative Media Studies program here at MIT, discussed the vocabulary and modes of thinking he learned from the time he has spent working with Henry Jenkins and others in the CMS department and discussed his work with NBC, who he said is trying to figure out a variety of new ways to reach audiences and to develop content across multiple channels. He particularly discussed his work around Heroes and understanding how audiences are interacting with that media property across various media forms, a concept he also encountered when working with the Olympics.

Michael Lebowitz, CEO and Co-Founder of Big Spaceship. Michael said that his company is in the fortunate position to work with major media properties such as television shows and feature films and sees his role as helping these content owners form new dialogues with consumers and to tell new aspects of stories through as many different means as possible. "We are thinking about everything from interactive experience development to branded game development across all digital platforms." He said that the job gets most interesting is when you start with crossover potential to lead and create development in types of convergence that hasn't formerly existed, expanding the transmedia storytelling format. He particularly discussed moving his work into an increasingly digital space, along with the help of his "team of 50 mad scientists in Brooklyn."

Also, check into Rachel Clarke's transcription of the panel here and here. Also, see Erica George's notes at Writing in Clay. Adrian at do.palicio.us wrote this entry about the transmedia panel as well.

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FOE: User-Generated Content

User-Generated Content
Biographical information for each panelist is available here.

Rob Tercek, President and Co-Founder of MultiMedia Networks. He spoke early in the session about the backlash directed toward traditional set up between producers and consumers, pointing particularly to the fact that major companies aren't set up to understand the medium but expects to be able to send everything out in a broad message and for users to just "sit there and listen while we talk." He says that companies aren't great at listening to their audiences, and that has driven this backlash.

Caterina Fake, Director of Tech Development at Yahoo!. Fake says that user-generated content is not only fun but allows people in this era to return to that scene of artistan culture from the 18th century where everyone is producers and everyone is consumers. The scene switches from a concert hall to a group of people setting around in no certain order playing music to each other. Everyone produces, and everyone consumes. And that's what she sees happening in these online spaces, where the division between producer and consumer just isn't quite as important anymore. Look at this point, for instance, about the shrinking distances of communication between producers and consumers, as to how that helps empower an environment for increased user-generated content. She sees this type of content as a way to differentiate from the masses for individuals and also for there to be true choice instead of a corporate producer-driven, limited sense of choice.

Ji Lee, Founder of The Bubble Project Video content has to be viewed just to see some of the great examples of user-generated content from the Bubble Project. The plan was to put an empty comic bubble up on public advertising and for viewers to be able to put their own comments on there. Examples from comments that were written online: (for Michael Douglas) I've had so much plastic surgery it hurts. Or, for Jennifer Lopez, I used to smoke krak on the 6 train.

Kevin Barrett, Director of Design for BioWare. He points out that rolepplaying games are no strangers to user-generated content but were driven by them, were pointless without them. Back decades ago, there may not have been a vibrant computer-driven gaming industry yet, but there was certainly games that thrived on user-generated content. He says that it wasn't something to talk about or discuss but what drove the gaming industry.

Also, see Rachel Clarke's posts about these presentations with more detailed transcripts of the event here and here and here, from her Licence to Roam site.

Dangers of Dialogue?

Ji says that, when corporations talk to consumers, it's almost like talking to a friend of his. "Telling a friend what I want to say is not a dialogue. By creating a dialogue, you're giving up control and listening to what other people have to say."

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FOE: Television Futures

TV Futures
Biographical information for each panelist is available here.

Andy Hunter from GSD&M in Austin. He says that he works there as an account planner, helping to guide these changes that are happening right now. What keeps him at night? When he looks at what the industry does creating marketing campaigns, creating inertia in the business. He feels that so much is stuck in spin cycle. He says that people's behavior and relationship with the media has changed drastically. He wants to think differently about how the company can market and how they can communicate. "THAT keeps me up at night," he says.

Mark Warshaw, Founder of FlatWorld Intertainment and Smallville producer. He is a writer/producer/director for episodes of the series and has worked with extending the stories into the online world. He says, "What gets me up in the morning is I am just excited that there are so many possibilities out there, so many avenues for brands, for entertainers. We can just go anywhere right now, so it's a really exciting time to be in this world."

Josh Bernoff, principal analyst at Forrester Research. Forrester has been analyzing the effect of this technology on business during the 11 years he has been there. Most of that time has been spent looking at television. Their clients are everyone, and they have to be looking at what the future may bring and what the challengers are. He says, "There are two motivators, fear and greed. Is my business changing, and will I lose my job? Or is someone else making money that I should have?"

Betsy Morgan from CBS Digital. Betsy says moving into the digital landscape is hard but frustrating. CBS is doing a lot of thinking about YouTube. "It's great and horrible all at the same time." Katie Couric's interview with Tom Cruise got a second life, a third life, a fourth life after it was uploaded to YouTube. "That's what I love about YouTube. What our biggest challenege with a company like YouTube is that I've got a bunch of lawyers that are every day taking down copyrighted material, and we're really struggling with that. Users put up content thats ours." A big concern is making sure that if video is going to be online, that it needs to be of a certain level of quality not to make the network's programming look bad. "We're having a lot of fun trying to figure this stuff out."

See Rachel Clarke's detailed posts about the comments from this panel here at Licence to Roam. Also, see Erica George's notes at Writing in Clay.

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FOE: Henry Jenkins' Introduction

The following is the C3 team's note from Henry Jenkins' introduction to the C3 Futures of Entertainment conference. For the conference's details, look toward its main page.

To open the conference, Henry Jenkins, the director of the Convergence Culture Consortium, gave some background information on what is being described as "convergence culture," to borrow the term from his book, that sets the stage for the various panels taking place here at Futures of Entertainment over the next two days. Also, see Steve Garfield's links over on Off on a Tangent.

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