A convenient announcement from the West Coast to follow up after yesterday's video post:
The panel videos from the TRANSMEDIA, HOLLYWOOD: S/Telling the Story conference are now available. Find them here or watch them embedded after the jump! You can also check out our previous post containing all of the tweets from the Transmedia, Hollywood event here.
Since we're spending the end of this week helping to organize the CMS 10th Anniversary, I figured that I'd write up a short article highlighting some relevant videos with which Consortium blog readers could relax during the weekend.
The above video was presented at DICE (Design Innovate Communicate Entertain) 2010, by Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell, as the "Design Outside the Box" keynote lecture. Although the video was posted and I saw this back in February, I feel like Schell's talk, Beyond Facebook, is still extremely pertinent and engaging (in fact, I heard it mentioned at both the MIT Business in Gaming conference as well as BarCamp Boston 5 this past weekend). Schell discusses the future of gaming beyond social games (that is, games taking advantage and facilitated across social networks, like Farmville or Mafia Wars on Facebook), when game elements will become integrated into the tiny facets of our daily lives.
The second video in today's post was present at TEDxEdmonton by Sean Stewart, who has led companies such as 42 Entertainment and Fourth Wall Studios and has helped produced major alternate reality games (ARGs) such as I Love Bees (an ARG for Halo 2). In Bard 5.0: The Evolution of Storytelling, Stewart explains the steps in which storytelling has changed in terms of interactivity and sociability. He illustrates modern examples of interactive storytelling through transmedia properties, drawing particular attention to how the form and function of each media platform affects the consumption of the story by the audience.
Video on the Internet briefly promised us a cultural future of decentralized production and daring changes in form--even beyond dancing kittens and laughing babies. Yet recent developments on sites like YouTube, Hulu, and Fancast as well as research about how audiences watch online video both suggest a retrenchment of structures from the old "mass media" system rather than anything daring. In this talk I'll argue that choices about the distribution infrastructure for video will determine whether all our future screens will be the same.
Christian argued that online video is more and more resembling old models of television networks, and he talked about everything from the YouTube redesign to a new approach to Chris Anderson's "long tail" model of distribution. He delivered some engaging thoughts on bandwidth monetization and asked critical research questions into how television and online video researchers can go about tackling issues of network algorithms. My liveblogged notes provide some textual takeaways from his talk, but the full lecture will eventually be available on the Berkman website here.
Christian Sandvig is a Fellow of the Berkman Center and Associate Professor in Communication, Media, and at Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds the Ph.D. in communication from Stanford University. In 2006 he received the Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation in the area of Human-Centered Computing. He blogs at multicast.
Three Converging Presentations: Digital Migrants, Western Otaku, and Our Google-ized World
At the end of the autumn semester, the Comparative Media Studies department hosted a set of colloquia called Comparative Media Insights. Three of these presentations focused heavily on digital culture and fit neatly into our interests here at the Consortium, so I want to share them (especially since I'm sure all of you are still recovering from the holiday and wouldn't mind a couple intellectual, mid-day breaks).
The first talk is by Lisa Nakamura, a professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. Her presentation, entitled Race, Rights, and Virtual Worlds: Digital Games as Spaces of Labor Migration, focuses on digital migrants, workers who labor in virtual worlds for other virtual world users. A lot of the work is done across transnational networks, such as gold farming in World of Warcraft performed by laborers in China for users in the United States. Lisa argues that in relation to these workers a type of "transnational working class" is being created, and she wishes to point out that these communities of workers provide a different perspective to the cosmopolitan, global, or converged Internet.
You can listen to a podcast of Lisa Nakamura's talk by clicking here or using the embedded player below:
As ICT's become available to new groups of users, notably those from the global South, new social formations of virtual labor, race, nation, and gender are being born. And if virtual world users' claims to citizenship and sovereignty within them are to be taken seriously, so too must the question of "gray collar" or semi-legal virtual laborers and their social relations and cultural identity in these spaces. Just as labor migrants around the globe struggle to access a sense of belonging in alien territories, so too do virtual laborers, many of whom are East and South Asian, confront hostility and xenophobia in popular gaming worlds and virtual "workshops" such as World of Warcraft and Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Do these users have the right to have rights? This presentation considers the affective investments and cultural identities of these workers within the virtual worlds where they labor.
Lisa Nakamura is the Director of the Asian American Studies Program, Professor in the Institute of Communication Research and Media Studies Program and Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She is the author of Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (Routledge, 2002) and a co-editor of Race in Cyberspace (Routledge, 2000). She has published articles in Critical Studies in Media Communication, PMLA, Cinema Journal, The Women's Review of Books, Camera Obscura, and the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. She is editing a collection with Peter Chow-White entitled Digital Race: An Anthology (Routledge, forthcoming) and is working on a new monograph on Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing games, the transnational racialized labor, and avatarial capital in a "postracial" world.
The second presentation is given by Mia Consalvo, a professor at Ohio University and also a visiting professor at MIT. Her talk, Western Otaku: Games Crossing Cultures, examines digital games -- particularly MMORPGs -- as spaces of transnational cultural exchange, places of hybridity formed by cross-cultural contact. She is particularly interested in the relationship between Japanese and American gamers, both in how the industry impacts transnational reception and in how players interact with each other across languages.
Mia's talk comes in convenient video podcast form below:
But you can also listen to the audio-only version of the podcast here:
From Nintendo's first Famicom system, Japanese consoles and videogames have played a central role in the development and expansion of the digital game industry. Players globally have consumed and enjoyed Japanese games for many reasons, and in a variety of contexts. This study examines one particular subset of videogame players, for whom the consumption of Japanese videogames in particular is of great value, in addition to their related activities consuming anime and manga from Japan. Through in-depth interviews with such players, this study investigates how transnation fandom operates in the realm of videogame culture, and how a particular group of videogames players interprets their gameplay experience in terms of a global, if hybrid, industry.
Mia Consalvo is a visiting associate professor in the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT. She is the author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames and is co-editor of the forthcoming Blackwell Handbook of Internet Studies.
The final presentation (and my favorite of the bunch) is given by Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor at the University of Virginia. He talks about The Googlization of Everything, a point in the convergence of real and digital culture by one company: Google. Phrased in one of William Uricchio's questions during the Q&A, in its attempt to "informationize" the world, Google has had to face "the pushback of culture." As I wrote earlier this week, Siva argues that on top of being its users, we act as Google's product. Our concerns over privacy (Google Maps' problems photographing Japan), property (Google Book Search scanning), and pride (transforming ourselves into Google's "data") therefore conflict with our understanding of ourselves as the customer versus the product.
Google seems omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It also claims to be benevolent. It's no surprise that we hold the company to almost deific levels of awe and respect. But what are we really gaining and losing by inviting Google to be the lens through which we view the world? This talk will describe Siva Vaidhyanathan's own apostasy and suggest ways we might live better with Google once we see it as a mere company rather than as a force for good and enlightenment in the world.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, cultural historian and media scholar, is currently associate professor of media studies and law at the University of Virginia.
Convergence of Industry and Fandom: The Japanese Musical Character as Production Platform
Once per month, the Comparative Media Studies department holds a general staff meeting, after which one member from the department gives a presentation. For November's assembly, Philip Tan from GAMBIT gave a presentation entitled "Hatsune Miku & Nico Nico Douga: Remixes, Media Production, and File Sharing."
Hatsune Miku (her name means "first sound / future") is a 16-year-old character from Vocaloid, "a singing synthesizer application software developed by the Yamaha Corporation that enables users to synthesize singing by typing in lyrics and melody" (Wikipedia). The software allows anyone to create a song with synthetic vocals, allowing for creative new melodies, recreations of old harmonies, and the imagination of improbable or impossible music.
Hatsune Miku Live Concert, Japan
In commercial terms, Miku-chan met wild success, finding a strong fanbase in the otaku subculture of Japan. These fans have created thousands of permutations of original videos, fan comics (doujinshi), mashups, fan art, and cosplay. Even in America, Miku has spread across the online American anime fandom like wildfire, and her image is noticeable to even young fans.
Below, I've embedded a video recording (excuse me for the not-so-great audio quality) of Phil's 15-minute presentation on the progress Hatsune Miku has made for fan production in Japan. It's the perfect example of an industry-produced piece of media that has been utilized by audiences in ways unimaginable to its producers. Amazingly, as Phil will explain, the industry actually celebrates the fan production and honors it in new productions.
Philip Tan is the executive director for the US operations of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, a game research initiative hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is concurrently a project manager for the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore.
He has served as a member of the steering committee of the Singapore chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and worked closely with Singapore game developers to launch industry-wide initiatives and administer content development grants as an assistant manager in the Animation & Games Industry Development section of MDA. He has produced and designed PC online games at The Education Arcade, a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that studied and created educational games. He complements a Master's degree in Comparative Media Studies with work in Boston's School of Museum of Fine Arts, the MIT Media Lab, WMBR 88.1FM and the MIT Assassins' Guild, the latter awarding him the title of "Master Assassin" for his live-action roleplaying game designs. He also founded a DJ crew at MIT.
Specialties: digital, live-action and tabletop game design, production and management
Human Signaling: Competition and Cooperation in Everyday Communication
A couple weeks ago, I sat in on a lecture by Judith Donath, who is an Assistant Professor of Media Arts & Sciences at MIT. She also works in the MIT Media Lab, where she founded the Social Media Group, and is a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Her talk, entitled Human Signaling: Competition and Cooperation in Everyday Communication, was one of a weekly seminar held by the Cooperation group at the Berkman Center. The talk introduced concepts of signaling, which draws from theoretical biology, and connected them to cultural practices of behavior, language, and even fashion. Judith's abstract explains more, below:
It can be quite beneficial to deceive - to indicate that one is smarter, nicer, or possessed of better genes than is actually the case. Yet if deception was rampant, communication would cease to function. Signaling theory provides an economic model that shows how enough honesty is maintained to keep communication working.
This model, which was developed in the field of theoretical biology, has also been used to understand a variety of human behaviors, e.g. cooperative hunting and religious rituals. Yet human communication differs significantly from animal signaling: we can rely on cheap
conventional signals because we have coordinated sanctioning; our cultural evolution allows for rapidly changing signal vocabulary; we can imagine other minds and deliberately manipulate impressions; we have internalized morality; and we are very creative - there are no signals, no matter how seemingly reliable, that we will not attempt to fake.
In this talk I will introduce signaling theory and describe how to adapt it for modeling human communication. I will then discuss two examples of applying this theory - first to analyze the social phenomenon of fashion (in clothing, arts, academic concentrations) and second to design new interfaces for online communication.
Unfortunately, while the presentation applied so well to many of the ideas floating around here at the Consortium, there's currently no recording of it. The best I could do for you wonderful readers was embedding Judith's similar talk from 2007 that she delivered at Google:
However, if you'd like more insight into the 2009 version of the talk, I've appended my personal notes after the jump below. Enjoy!
Skinny Jeans and Fruity Loops: The Networked Publics of Global Youth Culture
Back in November, I was lucky to attend an excellent lecture/presentation by Wayne Marshall, who is currently a Mellon Fellow in the Foreign Languages and Literatures department here at MIT. His talk, entitled Skinny Jeans and Fruity Loops, explores dance subcultures across the globe and examines how technology is impacting these networked communities:
What can we learn about contemporary culture from watching dayglo-clad teenagers dancing geekily in front of their computers in such disparate sites as Brooklyn, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, and Mexico City? How has the embrace of "new media" by so-called "digital natives" facilitated the formation of transnational, digital publics? More important, what are the local effects of such practices, and why do they seem to generate such hostile responses and anxiety about the future?
Wayne's talk is available via audio below (with a direct link to the mp3 here).
Of course, the presentation relied heavily on audiovisuals, so I've embedded some relevant dance videos below. Please enjoy the talk, or dance along!
Finally, if you're interested, I've appended my own notes from the talk in this post, after the jump.
Wayne Marshall is an ethnomusicologist, blogger, DJ, and, beginning this year, a Mellon Fellow in Foreign Languages and Literatures at MIT. His research focuses on the production and circulation of popular music, especially across the Americas and in the wider world, and the role that digital technologies are playing in the formation of new notions of community, selfhood, and nationhood.
Cultures of Resistance: Technology's Effects On and From the Iranian Election
Over the next couple of weeks, I'm planning to bring to the C3 blog a handful of presentations that have been given recently at MIT and Harvard.
Today's feature is a quick reflection on a talk I attended this afternoon at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. The presentation was titled #iranelection: The digital media response to the 2009 Iranian election, and was delivered by Cameran Ashraf (Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at California State University, Pomona) and Brett Solomon (recently Campaign Director at Avaaz.org and Executive Director at GetUp.org.au). The description from the Berkman Center's website follows:
The ability of social and digital media to play a crucial role in helping mass social movements coordinate and communicate effectively has been highlighted by the recent post-election unrest in Iran. Due to the borderless nature of digital communications, the resources available to many activists can now be global in scale and supported by virtually instantaneous communication. Some governments have taken notice of this borderless nature and the potential threat it poses. To limit communications within and with the outside world they have erected their own border in the form of firewalls, monitoring mechanisms and internet filtering systems.
With Iran as a case study, this presentation will explore the role new communication technologies are playing in the post-election unrest, how people outside of Iran are helping through digital media, and the Iranian government's efforts at maintaining its information border.
Working with existing projects and movements in the field, a new ongoing movement for digital freedom is forming (accessnow.org), rallying digital activists and ordinary online citizens around the world, to assist political freedom movements and civil society who are being shut out from their rights to information, political expression and assembly.
My short reaction and a link to the presentation video follow after the jump.