Nov 17

Transmedia – Futures of Entertainment

Transmedia Properties


Paul Levitz, Michael Lebowitz, Alex Chisholm

Moderator: Henry Jenkins

What are the resistance points to transmedia?


Alex: transmedia is the intersection of TV and UGC.   It is the cost…the economics of creating things across the media is difficult.   It is very expensive given unions/guilds need to have a piece of the pie.  We don’t now how to monetise all of it.  It is still experimental. Shows are begging to be transmedia but the budgets are not there to make it work.

Michael: sometime the money is in the marketing.  Other times we struggle to say that this effective marketing.  The old form, single call to action, is dead.   Especially in the digital,  filmmakers have total control, so why would I let people play with it.  Fear on all sides, marketing, filmmakers. So what is the compelling argument to make an extension.   We came into picture at end of first season, they had a huge hit.  They gave big spaceship a challenge to provide summer entertainment and a way to get fans into the tv if joined later.   There are a lot of different roles to be served and will inevitably disappoint someone. 

Paul: one of the other problems is that creative worlds do not spring like Athena.  Most are not done like Tolkien did, from the language etc.  nothing abut heroes existed before about a year today.   We not only don’t have the economic model we also do not have the creative model.  The showrunner day job is producing a tv programme and now we have  a process where it is done all over the place and needs to come together,  their job has expanded.  It does not make sense for them to turn everything over to other people, they need to have control, the world is not yet all built.  We cannot create everything as slowly as LotR, we need to create a generation of people who have grown up in a world   when a world is built up with people build up. The current creation process means people want more and more control – that is success in that world.  Being the guy who creates is success. 

Alex: the exchange between the creators in different channels there is the role of the network executive.   Heroes at ComicCon…had an implication that part of the problem was to do with Muslim extremists, but this is not in the broadcast version. 

Michael: our company is set up across multiple disciplines but they have to collaborate to do the job and the structure makes it happens.  Everyone get a voice in our creative meetings.  

Paul: this will get solved in a new synthesis.  As the opportunity grows, you may be being bought in early.  The writing team will start to bring in people it becomes more important, it comes in earlier.

Michael: they are being approached during production and earlier to be involved rather than post.   Looking to see the production companies come to us and help them build it out as they are being challenged with coming up with a world.


Henry: how do you balance the different areas-  those who just to telly and those who are go further into the world?


Michael: built out the davinci code campaign online.  Had to struggle the 2 audiences.  A lot of thought to navigation and the experience. Had the ‘normal’ stuff and lots of rabbit holes for people to explore who were interested in going further.  This only half answers question cos when you get to Lost, we started out carefully,  we started out with the oceanic air site and added easter eggs arte different depths to see what people wanted to do.  People found them instantly and kept digging.  Thought we would work closer with the production tem but were left on their own and stuff did not necessarily go back.   But the boards were active…they discovered the Big Spaceships pages (they hosted the site) and they entered the story as a part of it, inadvertently.  

Paul: there are different tools to make it multilayer.  You want to create a story that anyone can come in at any point and say this is interesting.   You have flexibility to allow people to dip in, eg tv, itunes, dvd.   This makes it easier to do complex shows as people can start at the beginning.

Alex: each channel has to stand by itself; be able to enter one and understand it. If you move across channels they need to work together,   make it a richer experience.  I went to ComicCon and was thrilled to get the limited edition comic.  But was bummed as the first section was a rewrite of the pilot stuff.   But the back had some new stuff that was cool.   The site now builds on, with the weekly comics adding little things.  


Q: As complexity is OK now, soaps have always been complex, since started in late 40’s.   it is amazing to me that the historical context is not connected to Hill Street blues.  There is a lot of case history that has gotten lost in the culture, we seem to have come full circle.  Night-time soaps (anything that starts with previously on) and daytime soaps are using traction.   Continually ironic that the medium that started complexity still does not get recognised when you look back a the history.


Paul: certainly acknowledge soaps in areas.   But we are now breaking out of the ghetto…Roots and Hill street broke out of the ghetto and bought it to the larger audience.  A comic book was an enormous pejorative, now you can get good comic book things.  


Q: we are discussing three things as transmedia.  One is adaptation from one style to another. One is adventures in different media with no attempt to keep them consistent.,  And there is across different platforms where trying to be consistent.  Where do you these affecting each other and where do you see yourselves.


Alex: working on a project with Sarah Smith, Chasing Shakespeares.  Read book and thought it was complex…read it and thought it was a play.  Asked Sarah to make it a play and was agreed.  And as the play was developed, characters were killed, lines moved around.  I got freaked out, circumstances changed. There is a bit of negotiation as move across media.   Henry does a work shop where do Interactive story telling, across channels, looking at how to move.  Looks at keying in on the key attributes.  Bond, LotR, all great examples.

Paul: it’s all of the above.   It has to capture the sincere essence of the work.  We know that when we see it as creatives and as consumers.  The one person which is least likely to stand outside is the original creator. The original is often the person who is least happy with the transmedia stuff.    It’s a hard balance.  When you create something, you have a vision and have innate compass of what rightness is. Some creators do not have that problem.   Schulz  wanted to do everything himself, wanted strip to die with him, who else could be Charlie Brown.  Jim Davis, who created Garfield, turned out a factory of Garfield creators as welcomed different points of view.  Both can be art potentially, but there is no answer to the question that spans everything, it depends.


Q: Have you seen cross applications that revitalise a property. Do you get feedback to bring new life or new interest.  How do you see the evolution of fan culture?


Michael:  the fan participation has been there for a long time.  We’ve all heard of Star Trek slash.  There’s a lot out there and there is now more potential for things to be centralised and commercialised.  Double edged sword – it uses people but they are happy to create.  Incredibly existed, not only just on a technology level, with browser expanding with widgets etc,  the browser is the middle man, like the CD.   The things that people do on their computers getting easier to distribute, to collaborate etc, inside of an open system, there are tools that are created for the fans of the show to create things.  

Paul: look at the long arcs of the properties.  The tv show of batman in the 60’s bought it to another level, burned it out real show during the time.  It’s very hard to pinpoint the fathers of success of the next level in the 80’s, but that was a compilation of the different success.  Before Tim burtons film we had the tshirts driving a phenomenon. Al ends of the circle can feed it.  When it is really working you do not know who did it.


Q: problems with holes in plots?


Paul: the problem is not the scale of the audience.   The audience is very forgiving of the sincere mistakes.  It is not very forgiving of the ones who don’t get it, those who don’t read the stuff.  This leaks back, saying you don’t care enough to respect us.  Star Trek in 70s had this problem as the novelisations did not tie in. The obvious sloppiness does the damage.   Are you grokking what the group gets, if you do then a sincere member of the group and will will ignore the mistakes.  

Alex: it’s the becoming story now.…we can reset the clock. Look at Wicked

Paul: Wicked is not quite that, it is the under-reveal. Ie it fits with what you know but gives you more.  But the clock turning back resets the facts as well.  

Henry: how do AU worlds work?  Is this a different strategy and why do we not see it outside of comics

Paul: you do see it, and more as the geek logic permeates the culture.  You see it in the alternate history stories.   Our cultural ethos is leaking out.   It says, you know this story so what happens if a piece of the story flips.  If it feels right and is a living homage that departs and legitimately speculates then it is fine.  But difficult to tell where the line is.   Difficult to tell people; try to explain in business logic with studios.  Ultimately not yet found a great objective language for it. You can forgive no Tom Bombadil but can’t put into a theory of what you can do or not.


Q: (from, a harry potter site).    Comic book world is easy to change the worlds, when you change the artist etc you get a different world and you can expect it.  When you are talking about visual interpretations in different media…how do you deal with the people who are the visual purists..and how do you respond to the interactivity of the fans, with the shows are self-reflective, knowing their fans get on the boards and deal with those fans and those who do not want any changes…


Paul: comics are in a good position. The more the reader has to fill in the blanks the more flexible they are likely to be in the versions that follow. It is still a challenge..when singer comes in and changes the colour of the costume as it will film better. You sit back and go OK, I know he connects, and know the properties.  Is he right?   You make a gut assumption in your own head whether you think you will get lynched for or whether it will work.  When you show it and they applaud, then you go ‘whoooo’.   On Tim Burton, they were afraid to call us about Michael Keaton, the chairman of Warner brothers called.  But he was right.  Comics start from an easier place.   Prose has it easier.  As long as it is consistent with the authors world.  

Alex: 2 exmaples in theatre in New york. The number of fans that comment on Wicked daily is huge, who is the definitive glinda etc.     Second is about IP, Urinetown originated in fringe a few years ago.  It is a pastiche piece, when staging in off broadway.   In regional theatres, cast members are directing it, it is a imprint of what it looked like in new york.  The rights assignments do not exist…the original creators are not being compensated for it.  There is no recognition for this kind of thing in the rights framework.   It is not just digital media that propagates, we get Xerox musicals.


Q: are we seeing a shift towards hard transmediation instead of soft transmediation. Things designed from the start.  The entire property is one cohesive entity.  What do you see as possible distribution methods?


Michael: loves the idea of subscription content, have the content delivered to me through RSS etc.   It depends can the broadcasters let go of their own brand?  NBC does not hold interest, but Heroes holds great interest.  Networks sites are not for me…they are not focused.    There needs to be larger undersntading of the individual brands, not the parent brands,  if the internet is where people start (and that is becoming the norm) people go  online to get info and get it customised to them.  Want to go to the specialist place.  Both film and tv have a long way to go.   Would like to see this future, and all the things that interest me come t me, get my heroes application and it all runs through this application.   One of things we struggle with is we create the content and then we struggle to get people to use it in other places…they won’t use web stuff on dvd…they are not looking a the properties from the consumer perspective.

Alex: heroes, the network site means nothing, but does mean something for the fan,  that is the channel for the fans, not the network site..the content is the same.

Paul: the how of the distribution is subsumed by portals.. curators or search or stuff.  As the first creative people get it that will drive how it will go.   Once a creative person goes and pitches the whole thing then it will work.  It will be a strong creative person, in terms of track record and it will work with the finance and the guilds.  The guy with the greatest stake will solve the guild problem etc.  will come from creative centre.


Q: concerned with transmedia in a non-fiction space,  is there a good way to approach from a brand or a company.  Story telling is good way of selling a message.  What do you see the future of transmedia and none fiction.


Alex: Betsy touched on it this morning.  With the news.   A combination of how you optimise,  on the web – constantly refresh, other spaces may be more indepth. As a consumer you layer and try and create understanding across different channels.  It is in terms of getting perspectives on what is news.  


Q: journalists do not really get transmedia.   The key is you do not enter a new media unless the story can be told in the channel. Interested in branches where tranmedia crosses into UGC.  In soaps, UGC can help, so can a creative team come a editor for UGC, can you launch an online site that gives the stories about the soap characters who are not on the telly continue the story.   To expand the worlds.  This could be a great space to develop.


Paul: the problem is the intersection of the laws. It works from a creative viewpoint.  You can say fans give us everything as we own it as soon as you do and we may never send you any money.  Or you can say I never read what you can do, ignore it.   The copyright laws are set up in such as way to make it easy for people to sue you.   Once you have access, it stops other things.  We get these nuisance suits every few years.  If you want to do UGC on an IP have to do very inerous licence.  It is a discouraging thing.

Michael: thinks the idea is fantastic.  Possible form marketing things.  But not talking about the legal stuff.   But clients will need some control, eg we have a great profanity filter.  A funny balance from an executional side. There is always a vocal minority that want to fuck with you and do bad things.  Build stuff that does light moderation and keeps people involved, but not completely free.


Q: we have not touched on the ‘trans’ part that bring it all together?


Henry: uses metaphor of viewer becoming hunter and gatherer, bringing things all together. Collective intelligence as a concept closely connected to transmedia as a concept, the worlds are bigger than any one person can understand. 

Paul: the way to make it work is to make fans surrender everything, and that does not fit in with inspiring creativity.

Michael: you can pay sometimes in goodwill. On Lost, we fought to not have copyright but we lost.., in the end the fact that it was marketing was forgiven as it was good content.  You create things with dual value.  Both marketing and genuine entertainment.   This tends to buy goodwill.

Alex: it is not the number, but the how and the why.   Things will ride alongside the business to create the trans.



Nov 17

Transmedia Properties part 1- Futures of Entertainment

Transmedia Properties


Paul Levitz, Michael Lebowitz, Alex Chisholm

Moderator: Henry Jenkins

What is transmedia?

Paul: if transmedia was taking an idea and putting it across different channels – as an owner.   Aobut 1710, copyright emerged.  Mary Midnight, Christopher Smart in 1749-1752, a book and stageplay.  In US, J Fenimore Cooper, novel in 1821 and 1822 was a play.   Real start was Frankenstein, or Oz, book in 1900, play 1902, film on 1919, them many incarnations.  You have over 100 years of creative layers over each other with Oz.

Henry: Baum is a great example, original stage production had a Budweiser placements.

Alex: pushing back, look at religion, how the Romans took some of the stories from Jesus and turned them into rituals, this was transmedia.  Each generation takes it and builds on it.  Look at Wicked and Oz.

Given been around so long, so why the fuss now?

Michael: a combination of things.  The web has become all invasive, is inexpensive and a proving ground for many things.   Started in 2000 doing destination sites for films – press kit content.  Thought it was really boring so looked at what they could do to capture the spirit of the film and give value as well.  First worked on serendipity, gave different approach for Miramax, we track your path and match you up with people who had the same experience with the site and you could map people with similar behaviours.   Had to go back and create new application due to popularity.  Allowed studios to see the success.

Paul: the disappearance of old norms in advertising – a road block. You could buy the same time on the 3 networks and everyone would see your message at the same time.  You cannot do this now.  You can try…or you can break away from the 30second and do something different.  Many examples are built in combinations.  They still not sure how it works, but it is cool and they get a lot of press and people talk about it etc. etc.  if you can run the transmedia thing and no-one watches expect reporters…the reporters still spread the word.  We are in an inbetween state.

Michael – you get experimentation and  a lot of copying.” We want to make youtube but only for our brand”

Alex: last may at the upfronts, you are numb at the end as you see all this new content.  Remember seeing Heroes and going wow…they completely got it in the clip.  They talked about how it would work as a digital comic book.   Knew that was the one then.   They settled on it as a research project (and got lucky).   Heroes had a marketing team outside of typical structure; they wanted it to be a universe.  They looked at Lost etc. it fed all the thought and how it reached out.  Now it has reached a critical mass, has a tension between creators and the fans.   They are building in the downloads, all starting to work together,  as they head into the last few weeks before hiatus, they have done a great job of building audience.

Henry: superheroes are very transmedia.  What is about that genre?

Paul : it works in multimedia. Specific characters rarely become successes though (superman and batman the exceptions).  Historically it is not simultaneous transmedia but as sequential.  Superman has been different forms at different times, as has Batman.   Comics can be success as built on architecture that allows for expansive story telling.  Have open and rich environments, they have opened ended missions rather than closed quests.  For batman it mattered that he was out to eradicate evil, and that is a long term job.   Behind the curtain, it also important that these are properties that multiple creative directors can get.  For transmedia, it is important that it is all not in one persons head.  You need to find the next guy to give longevity. The essence is transferable.   If not, this destroys it for transmedia.  They had visuals that can be translated across media. The characters had pretty raw iconography. Each version is a reflections of the character. Built on strong wish fulfilment fantasies; – could I do this.  

Alex: comics move into mass at an accelerated way over last few years.  Post 9/11, the whole mythos of heroes has expanded.  There was a rise in number of shows and movies that so this, as we struggle with national identity and the battle of good vs evil.   It gives us space to deal with what is happening outside the entertainment space.

Michael: fan culture has become much more mainstream in general.   What the boom of the internet has achieved is an explosion of niches which become mainstream.   Stereotypes break down.   We open new realisations due to network of info and the new research that is possible.


Henry: what other genres that are good for transmedia?


Michael: it is really hard to do certain things.   It is difficult to achieve the scope when people on pc screen.  A lot of success with horror as it is an intimate experience. Comedy is driving force of youtube; works well in shortform, easy to watch things and laugh by yourself.   Works in small screen.   We are just scratching surface of what can be done.   You can do things diferrnetly across the media… use channels to drive different emotions.  


Henry: now we pitch worlds…to support transmedia.  Can you speak to shift about thinking of a property as a world.


Paul:   complexity is now an acceptable public virtue in story telling.  Think about how LotR was marketed as a book – they complexity had to be camouflaged.  Look at TV, Roots could have been a turning point as you go from standalones to a series….to watch multiple episodes for its cumulative value.  If you had talked about this complexity a year or two before Hill street it would not have worked.    Access to material raises the stakes.  When lots of things available, the stronger built world can crowd out the imitations.   When less there, there was room for the imitation to be successful as you could not easily get real thing.  Now you have perpetual availability of the best version.  So you need to build well to push out the other guys.    In film, we are living in a time when there is change to the experience of film going.  Can’t build things epic scale everywhere, need to do the big screen.

Alex: one of Henry’s students is doing his thesis on soaps.  Huge worlds around these.  The fan communities are committed and involved; there is a huge ecosystem.   Sports in transmedia has exploded.  Look at Madden games, look at fantasy leagues.  Everyone has one.  The world used to be you watched once a week and that was it.  Now this economy where statistics are the currency.   The world fuels a whole cascade of other contests with the fantasy.  Information is play in the fantasy sports domain.  You now have push/pull in tv and online.   Looking at making things relevant, like Olympics, how can you engage people across platforms, gaming coming in.

Michael: fantasy allows you to live in the world.   It’s a great kick to play in the world.  

Nov 17

UGC2 – Futures of Entertainment

Notes from lat 90mins

Q: interested in the gameworld economics.  Games were initially one track, single developers, now we keep expanding, now MMORG, more user generated.   Game developers are stepping back; where do you think the developers will end up?  Will users have more control?    How do we move forward with game currency?   People do not act the same way in virtual world…what will the economics.


Kevin: if only 1% are creating, there is still 99% pf people who need a product. Therefore always necessity to have professional developers to support this.  On economics, the use of real world currency to create virtual currency can be a problem.  How do we develop way to be secure, safe etc to provide a consistent experience for the consumer.  The community at large still have a larger brainpower to get round the system.  There’s always a new problem and we still have to solve it.

Rob: no matter how clever you are as a developer you will still not be cleverer than the web…so those who invite participation may be more successful.   Games are a very interesting…as a designer you are a developer, toymaker, story teller.  You need many different skills and it is a complex process to manage.    So will the developer step back? It depends what you are trying to create.   The designer may want to leave room for people to create themselves.  Most artistic forms end with a single result, games often have multiple endings.  I see the games opening up to more UGC, whether SL or WoW.  The reward participation on many levels, one of which is the creation of things in the game which can be traded.  And this can be gamed.   Today… you have companies that play games for you to build levels…to create objects that can be sold in real world.   The companies that design the game assert they own the content, they own the IP of the objects that are created ingame so they cannot be sold in real life.  If you open up your world to people see emergent behaviour they do not expect at all.    Open APIS embrace the notion of emergent behaviour.  You enlist your audience to propagate your meme.


Josh:this raises the question of labour.  If UGC create value for the company, do you compensate them


Caterina: youtube and revver.  Which one took off?   There are different motivations; making this cool video of lipsynching to get fame, notoriety as opposed ot sitting there and working out what can get you money.  Different ways of thinking, gets different content. Revver is commercial, youtube is real (in general).   There are lots of people who do make money from the Flickr photos, they don’t facilitate it, it happens.  If you want to sell your photos, there are other ways to do it.

Ji: the bubble project got a lot of interest from commercial companies, who wanted to do it different ways.  But the reason why people were interested was that it was not commercial.  Look at lonelygirl15, on the cover of wired magazine complaining she not get paid.


Q: what is fair use and what is derivative. Has their been legal issues in Ji publishing the books with the bubbles.


Ji: I just create a platform for people to communicate.  Have been called a vandal a lot.   He makes it clear that they do not support vandalism.  He did get a few issues with police and requests from the lawyer from van wagner about stopping his work.. but it is now outside his control and a life of his own.  It’s in the domain of people who are doing it, no one is responsible.  On the website…he spoke to his lawyer and is comfortable.  Changing the context of ad by putting sticker and creating an artistic photo, so creating an artistic work so protected.


Q: how do you pick out a community to stake out your territory (as a user).  From a user, how do you sort out what there is.   Once you make your choice, how do cope with your choice changing.  With all of the sites you do not know where they going.   How do you agree with trust?


Rob: check out ToU for youtube.

Caterina – check out flickr – you own your content.   Not all photos sites do.

Q: friendster changed….it changed the trust.

Caterina: worked on netscape a long time ago.   After AOL bought it, they shut down the communities.  It was bloodshed, all the people who had developed communities, there was no where to go, you could not find your friends.  Companies appear to be learning you cannot do.  Insistent when joined Yahoo that they did not change things.  Yes, there could be too many sites out there, you need to choose which ones to put your energy into.   I try a lot of things, but don’t carry on.   So what comes after this, after participatory media.  Speaking to Linda Stone, (continuous partial attention.)  who suggested we are moving away from lots of social connections and moving towards being able to chose the connections, constricting the networks.  Focusing on the key number of people.  Less of multiple connecting, more to the focus on you key services, key people.  So what is the killer app for this world?


Q: when thinking about UGC, it is still cutting edge.  Online, quite young.  Can it really become a mass phenomenon.   How about people who don’t have the time and energy to plough through this?  Is there roles for choice editors?


Caterina: bought up Brad Horowitz pyramid.   This is typical across many of these services.  Ever since the internet has existed, the lurker has been there.   They just consume.  They are still in it, just not doing anything.  

Rob: what do you mean by mass?   It is, look at the profiles.   It is mass.   It may not be across all the demo, but it is mass.

Q: look at US population, it is still limited, so what are the others doing?

Rob: savvy marketers are using myspace like crazy.  There are over 300 networking sites at least, for all segments.


Rob: it is important if you are asking people to invest time, you are being entrusted with something precious.  It may not be monetizable, but it is worth something to the user.  If you exploit the content, then you lose the trust.  It is worth paying attention to the sites ToU, so you understand where your content is going. Especially as you create your identity across the web.

Caterina: the AOL search thing was a good example.   You could track down people from what searches were done.  


Q: (advertiser).  When there is a model to monetise for UGC, will this hurt or help?


Caterina: people don’t pay for distribution, they pay for storage when they are a member.   There are advertisements (but not on pro) and you won’t see them on an individual user photo.  


Q: You’ve talked about ratings and whether to use or not.   And how do you get critical mass at the beginning when starting these things?


Caterina: we were assiduous community builders from the start.  Every single person that came to the site, they greeted.  They would engage in conversation, they would chat, around the clock.  Cos every single one of those users was important.  We wanted them to come back.   But this does not scale, but you have established a culture that everyone is social and greets people.  You have to establish the accepted behaviour.  

Rob: meshes with a new trend.  The first wave was sites that let you connect with a community of friends and it moves to communities of interest, linking round a hobby. Now ,moving to a community of practice, whether religion or social etc, where you have a common sensibility.   It’s hard to create a new practice and create a new mode of behaviour.  

Caterina: legs pantyhouse wanted a community, so put up all these photos.  All the fetishists turned up  – not what they wanted.

Ji: took about 3 years to get to the critical mass.   There was the virtual aspect and the real aspect.   Both were important, the two elements co-exist and cannot be separated.


Q: there was an early consensus that it did not matter is UGC was bad?  Will it be a more pressing question in a few years?  


Kevin: when I indicated that it did not matter, the fact is that people are participating in the community, so we as a business is to build as big a community as possible,  we are not going to put a value judgement on quality, but it is awesome that it is happening. That is what we want.,  they do things that goes beyond content generation,  because some peoples stuff is good, it creates this pool of employees.  A large proportion have been hired out of the community.  People who contribute can be identified as generators, they can get contracts etc.  this all just generates more stuff for the community. So 4400 neverwinter community modules have been created.  That is a lot of extra material for people.  Neverwinter came out 5 years ago…average cycle for games is first few weeks,  because of the toolset, it is in its 5th edition and is high in game charts.   So it is not bad that a lot of material is bad.  It is good that some is good.  From the business model, it is not ness for all to be good.

Caterina.  Same for flickr,  my photos are consistently crappy.  I take with cameraphone, more as a way to communicate with friends.  95% of everything is crap, or not relevant to you. You need to create a system so you can find the 5% you are interested in.  Just because not good for you, does not mean it does not have a value.

Rob: good or bad is a relic of a scarcity economy.  A 2 way network invites the possibility of an exchange when people can create a context, with metadata.   Gives different ways of perception. This is the biggest shift, so that audiences can deem what is valuable and they make the decisions themselves.

Q: are you predicting a shift to get exclusive UGC when these become hubs (ie without the ‘original’ ie star wars)

Rob: isn’t this what flickr is?  Content streams intersect.  Lonelygirl15 is the same.  you get an economy around these that becomes self sustaining.


Q: what is the boundary for what is or is not a game. How do you get people involved


Kevin: when a company wants to develop a community they made a difficult decision.  They make a decision to release a toolset that takes a lot of time and consumes many people in the company.  Look at Oblivion. You have access to everything.  You can manipulate everything.  Therefore you can break the game in a second.  When you make a conscious decision to release a tool set you have to provide a wide breadth of things they can do and then a lot of work to make sure they can’t break it.

Li: on the bubble project, it was just peoples frustration towards advertising.  Gives people a chance to talk back to things that is forced down their throat.  Give the opportunity to express their freedom of speech.

Caterina: a human need.  A 10month old nephew just points at things…look, look.  You want to share your experience and show things to other people,  it is a desire to connect, to have your perspective seen and understood.  We have ended up with mmp photosharing.  When we made groups we anticipated certain things, not people using them for numerical order groups.  What’s in my bag.  Transparent screens is so much fun.  it changed photography from being formal etc to people taking photos to participate which is very different behaviour.

Rob: people trying to meet human needs, eg maslow diagram.   Certainty and variety.  Significance and connection.   Growth and contribution.   Any collaborative effort can fulfil these needs, giving satisfaction.   Money is not the driver why people do this.   This is not about the product.  If you think about you video being a product, it is the wrong way of thinking. It is not a product, it is participation.  Participatory is all about the doing, not the end stuff.  It is most important that they are doing not consuming.


Q: from media planning, getting a lot of messages whether welcome or not welcome.  We are funding the space, so reps trying to get them to be involved.


Caterina: example is Nikons stunning gallery. Got in touch with flickr users, gave them a camera, used on website and on commercials.   Thought that was the perfect intersect. Have been doing a fantastic job of doing.  Needs more creative thinking, more co-operation, is harder, needs more leg work..  but is authentic and this pays off big time.. there is a place for it and it is not just slapping an ad against the content – involving the people.  

Kevin: we are starting to explore ingame advertising, there is a strong cultural push in company that it is not exploitive, not intrusive.  We anticipate that movies have product placement/  we have to ensure we do not break suspension of disbelief with players in world with ingame adverts.   You can’t pick up a coke in a medieval game.  Has to be completely in context and so well woven into the world to be transparent so you are expecting to se the ads.

Caterina: you also have to be prepared to have the bubble ads to come along.

Ji: the bubbles add value to the ads. Things happen organically; give up control and you may be happy.


Q: when creating elder scrolls 2, got a number of people registering opver 65.  they had been given the game along with a computer by children. Generally now housebound who enjoyed travel. They created a character that suited themselves. The walked around being an itinerant priest. Got social interaction,, just walking around.  The did not give a damn about the quest…they wanted to see the detail.   They used it for their purpose.  This taught us that the move you try and constrain, the more people try and break the game.  Oblivion toolset was put in with the understanding that people wanted to break it.   We talked about metatagging, by it’s nature it is wonderful, to give more information.  But how do I get rating and determine good and bad.   How do I find the good stuff?


Li: that’s web3.0!!!

Caterina: there’s a lot of work that is being done about personalisation.   Working at yahoo on myweb…gives search results that I am interested in.  you have own definitions of cool.   Myweb would find me things that I thought was cool. Was constraining search  results to pages that my friends had looked at.  You will see more stuff that does that.

Kevin: does movielens do what you are after.  You rank your movies and then it matches up with similar lists and displays similar preferences.    

Caterina: you have to contribute the content or it is not going to work!



Nov 17

Futures of Entertainment – User Generated Content

Notes….after first 45mins.

User Generated Content

Caterina Fake, Ji Lee, Rob Tercek, Kevin Barrett

Caterina: we are coming back to a time when the producer and the consumer are one. People make their own content. The big bands are not a natural state of affairs…UGC is a return to this kind of activity.

Rob: participatory media is a broad section, a subset is UGC. There are people who want to create. SL is another area. The 2 terms are sometimes blurred…not all PM is UGC.

Josh: the initial flickr game was about building an architecture…the creation gives an area for people to participate. Why at this point is there such growing interest/

Rob: the traditional economics have fallen off a cliff. The numbers are not going to get better soon and does not see a bright tv future. On the web you have to drive costs out and have to get production to the consumer. The tools are getting cheaper, and the threshold of getting in is much lower and the cost of distribution is trivial.

Caterina – there is annoyance with mass consumer culture…the choice is reduced and everything is the same. There is a desire for personal expression and individuality. This is a way of doing that.

Josh: Is there a way in advertising?

Ji: yes, that is what they are getting into. They all look the same, people do not want to watch the boring ads…so what is the way to connect with consumers? Look at Chevy Tahoe example. There was a lot of negatives as well. But in the end there was a lot of consumers to their site, over 600k visitors who were there >9mins on the commercial and increased to the .com site. Creating a dialogue is far better than just shouting. This is the future in that they can connect with their consumers.

Josh: what are the risks with letting go of control. Chevy let go and what they got back may not have been quite what they expected.

Ji: similar to a personal conversation. It’s like me talking to a friend one way…by creating a dialogue you have to listen.

Kevin – from the game side there is opportunities and risks. Games want the UGC, community generation, etc. 3.2 million in their community, adding 50k month, even in a year when no games released. The aurora engine that shipped was a powerful CMS, and gives tools for people to create adventures, wanted to empower players to be able to create. A powerful tool set to create in an electronic environment. You get a lot of hobbyists getting together to compare stuff, with a lot of dominance assertion behaviours. Maybe only 1% are generating material (30k) but stats tracking 20% of users are using the content. The material can be 20-30min or as long as 20 hours. Tonnes of opportunities for community building. If 20% want to get the extra stuff, as the content increases and gets better the participants will increase. The risks is that the content is poor…but it does not matter.

Rob: you can have an architecture that invites participation or control. Chevy was about control. The shots were limited, high production values. The response was limited and not surprising there was a backlash. Limiting choice means control. Other sites do not do that, web2.0 sites same to open themselves up. This is why traditional media companies don’t necessarily get this so do not give up control and not breakout on web. Look at tv companies, they are not good at listening, it is broadcast and control. People move away.

Caterina: you have to be honest with users. Dealing with large companies you get blanket denial. If you can confess as a company, agree that it sucks, you can be honest, then this is a refreshing change. Do right, and people will support.

Josh: UGC goes hand in hand with community. Does it matter is all the users do not participate? There are degrees of engagement, that is missed from the debate.

Kevin: our best download was a pack that just gave lots of content…the community expansion pack.. they were interested in finding out what the rest of the community were doing.

Josh: one of the criticisms is that it is amateur?

Caterina – it used to be very expensive to buy a camera. The prices have come down and now within reach of all. Access to tools is growing. The mass of amateurs will beat out a professional

Rob: a lot of rules about content creation are broken all the days. MTV broke the rules of the BBC. The editors they had wanted to do it the BBC way, and did not want to do it the new way. Now those techniques have been adopted.

Josh: Are we looking at a greater diversity of products?

Rob: Yes. We change the way we are doing it. Look at the breadth in music, filesharing allows more exposure. The audience grows, more music increases

Caterina: in 2005 a lot of teenagers from Dubai/UAE suddenly joined. Not planned, just came.

Rob: a question about tagging, as the meta info is big. Tagging is a way for everyone to join in. You may not take great photos, but you can join in.

Caterina: Interestingness – a collection of algorithms that look at the user behaviour. How are the photos used.

They made a deliberate decision not to include ratings. .despite the early requests. Voting can lead to gaming the system so did not want to do.

Josh: digg – the ratings is the UGC.

Caterina – dig is confronting a lot of gaming. One of the biggest issues is the gaming of it.

Kevin: quick slideshow Can UGC content replacing professional stuff in the gaming world? Potentially, yes. Amateur producers would need to understand that the aim of game design is to produce something fun not just something cool. Most of the UGC is cool, they want to play – eg setting everything on fire in the game. So what is fun? We have to go way back to understand the natural history of fun. three hunters go out and get an antelope. Brings back enough for 3 days. The 1st type goes straight out to get the next one. The 2nd goes to sleep for three days before going out again. The 3rd tries out new things and teaches all the other people to hunt and what went well. SO what happens to them? The 1st goes out and get killed.., so no kids. The 2nd rests for a few days, gets unfit, loses skills does not get food and then they all starve. The 3rd. simulates the hunts in the safety of the camp, plays games, increases rate of survival, improves his chances the next time. We are descended from the people who played games, who taught others, we inherited these predispositions to teach and learn, tell stories, to have fun. When we work out, solve problems, tell a good story, we rerlease dopamine, which means we feel good and do it again. We do activity, enjoy it, so do it again. This theory proposes that fun is this cycle. As a theory, this helps us in game design. So the early guys hunted, told stories and simulated. All of these fun cycles can be replicated in the games. So we have simulated combat, movement and manoeuvre, etc. Eg Doom. We have social fun and games, story, trading, sharing, competition, teamwork, eg Sims. We have metal fun and games, tactical, strategic planning, pattern setting, goal choice, meaningful choice making eg tetris. So to make gthe best game we blend it all together, eg world of warcraft. 4-5 million users. Blended fun games do physical, social and mental. So back to the question is …only if the nature of fun activities become understood.

Nov 17

Futures of Entertainment – Television Futures

This is the first session from the Futures of Entertainment conference taking place at MIT this weekend. THis has been corrected for spelling not for sense.
Television Futures

Andy Hunter, Mark Warshaw, Josh Bernoff, Betsy Morgan

Set the scene:

Josh: speaking from a perspective of thinkers..people who
have ideas about media. analysed this for 10 years…has
some advice on ways t think about it.

1. do not assume that nothing is going to change – there is real change, all the
online and offline stuff. money is now shifting.

2. do not
assume that everything will change. you may not be able to
see everything you want all the time. Still will be telly
in 10 years.

3. do not assume that its about the ideas and
not about the business. still about the business, the
changes that happen come about due to complex
relationships challenge the ability of ideas to happens. 4.
do no assume that business drives everything. Start with
consumers and consumers behaviours, when people want things
and the tech is there, they take it into their own hands.
and business has to catch up somewhere in the middle of that lot
something will happen. trends: 16-17% of US population have DVR, 20% HD TV, >25% VOD cable, (about half of them using it). By end of this year. It’s
making a difference now. 1.DVR tend to watch more than half
recorded, and skoip80-90 % commercials. The TV networks say
it is not a problem,,,therefore it is!!!! A Survey of
advertisers – and they are shifting investment from TV to
web. 2.Video in multiple formats – companies do this, eg
cbs, discovery. this is a big shift in industry..they look
to move across the media. 3.TV is broader now and
tiered…top tier, generally watched at the time, 2nd tier of
cable content, also repeated, in VOD, =on web, extensive
syndication. 3rd tier independent producers, those who
aspire to be professional and place content where people can
be, and finally the real amateur, anyone can be there.
every element of the pyramid can make money, but not necessarily
in the same way. all have own economics and business
models…very confusing…

Betsy: in the last 18 months, there has been a growing
interest in opening minds and cheque books to put content in
a lot of places. traditional companies find it hard to embrace
disruptive technologies. the rules are changing and the
execs have to change. .the construct is getting blown up.
everyone is asking what does it mean using these techs.
what does it mean to have csi on cbs, Google video etc.
the networks still follow structure, have seasons, have an
upfront. this year they have a couple months of data looking
at the new stuff, model this fall has been to put it out there
and see what people are consuming and there is a great
interest in what is happening., they are experimenting and
seeing how well or poorly it does. get the data and let it
inform the next steps. On the news side, the is
doing ok and is growing. My business is not just to put
the content on the site, but on a lot of different
platforms..other vides, cell , etc. lots of relationships.
I thinks about all the different ways when thinking
about the reach of her brand. going forward looking at more
commercialising it, will have ads to it and be able to
monetise it.

Mark: it is about putting it out there. put on net and see
what happens. all collecting data. putting it on AOL firsr
– the samllville fan was not a AOL user.. but it
attractedpeople to AOl to ewatch it. tinnes of peopel came
from all over the world. t hat changed their thinking, shpwed
when they were big, showed wher ethe fans were. talkign
about it and putting on sites and starting to activate
people. it moves fast,..this influenced the way the next
series was built/rolled out. adjust all the time. change
the dvds etc. this year will be putting on phones and
on the web after that. still at beginning, still learning,
no clue where it will go.

Andy; we have a very tuff job. as the world changes, the
model of how we go to business has turned 180. we are looking
for a big bang for the buck, mass speaking through conduit of
tv, all metrics and market economy all based on tv, how they
think about things. what you are seeing is the move away
from the tv at the top to being equalised, so everything sits
on a paralllel. the networks business folks change what
they are dong, but the background still the same form the tv
business side. most of the revenue comes form trading floor
of buying selling media – 30dec commercials, and as that
changes, the business models need to changes. it’s a slow
change. We would love to tell the stories walk
away from a single TV spot and sell transmedia stories.
clients uncomfortable as there is no metric tied into it and
we can’t tie them all together,…all the metrics based on
mass audience, then precarious position selling to clients.
last thing is about coming up with ideas. the creative
industry is driven from 30sec films that have a single
message, and now we need to tell stories in chapters across
media and that is a far more difficult job and the creative
folks hold some of the burden but changing the way they think
is very very difficult. excellent position for the fact far
more channels to work with, ways to try things new, we are
but clients not necessarily there yet, have to be able to take risk.

Josh: so why don’t they just change? The media buyers have to
be very efficient as the margins are small, there is
market as all the good in the tv market are the same..30
secs…they are all interchangeable. the sameness makes it
easy to skip..the sameness makes them vulnerable. they
can’t just change it..the market provides inertia.

Betsy: one of the reasons the media company are willing to
experiment, as the old model is not in immediate jeopardy
due to the consistency of the model, the web makes it more
difficult to get the data and the roi,,,all the different ways of
measuring’s a lot easier to buy the 30sec slot.
4.5billion tv adverts on cbs. all together do 13billion in
30secs slots. that a pretty big engine to disrupt quickly.
the model will change, the cracks are there, the curve ill
flatten out but not immediate.

Mark – they are trying to change things, it is a learning
curve, online etc, they can offend the fan easily, need to
meet fans objectives and tell the story. they work with
brands to bring them in and brands are coming back to work
with them in a different way.

Betsy – looking at different do story line, on web,
digital. Mark, are the writers getting paid for webisodes?

Mark: the unions are going to have to figure out the payment
structure for this. the fans want tit the advertisers want to
part of it. can’t not have it anymore, if the actors don’t
do it, how can you tell the story. moving from fear to
greed. unions need to structure this.

Betsy – the networks need to change their budget structures
to allow the influence of web to come on. all of a sudden
you have to do digital, and other things, and things become
more expensive so that is changing that budget model. the
actors ask for more money, the writers do and this disrupts
the existing model

What happens to appointment based tv in a world of on demand.

Josh: the scheduling is the largest change that has happened
to tv.. the VOD etc means people don’t watch tv at the time
broadcast. the ratings of the broadcast times go down, but
still people watching. there will still be some of the
appointment stuff…they will become more valuable, the rest
of tv is moving away from the schedule…and that makes the
tv ads more difficult as they are no longer timebound. the
good thing is that the audience has now a longer life. the
schedulers themselves are going to have to change – they will
have less power. the power is in promoting and bankrolling
programmes overall, not about who will own Thursday night.

Betsy: not immediate; there is still a role for them. they
put nights together…has been historically to get the
audience to a new show. now the impact on marketing 0 how
do I tell people about a new show as you can’t assume that you
can thread people through the night. nbc said a few weeks
ago not necessarily going to think about leadins etc.

Andy – NBC doing some interesting things…their business sis
being challenged, so having to change. appointment tv is
starting to dissolve. sports is still appointment tv and
always will be. participatory media will drive app tv and
will continue. you want to know the story and follow the
people. Murdoch is looking at creating cgm for tv
programming, embedding technology so people can mash up
content in set top box. relevance will get bigger.

Josh: some companies looking at doing set top boxes that
deliver internet tv, announced in CES. all january you will
here about boxes bringing internet content to the tv. cbs
announced this week that they have done a deal. believes
that apple will come out with a hardrive on their new set top
box…move away from streaming..thinks 50/50 chance there will
be a tv tuner in it, they own the interface – impact tivo
etc. they have all 4 tiers of content on the tv. the future of
tivo is intimately connected to the deals. the service
becomes important rather than the box.

Betsy: on doing the itunes deals..the apple guy was just
thinking about the consumer. the cbs were thinking about all
the business issues.

Andy: these things challenge the networks – if I can go to
apple/setbox etc, what is the reason to go to a network
anymore. what does the brand stand for. of everything is
transactional.. I’m attached to content, not to the network.
so ads should look at attaching to properties etc.

Betsy: cbs is in the business they are in and gets great
content is that the financial model still does work where the
big networks can bankroll the biggest shows, have a strong
structure in place, see the relationships to see the good
stuff etc. there is value in the big networks.. you may not
be threading people through a night there is still value and
power in the networks and if they do everything right and
get stuff on other platform they are still gatekeepers and
content producers. If apples sell devices they do not necessarily
want to bankroll producers in hollywood

Andy: outside of the network space, when you look at Google
etc becoming an aggregator for content having the money and
the power may not ness be as important. look at Revver, you can
attach ads to the content that you are that
model grows and independents figure ways to sustain their
process the model will change.

Henry: how long until a producer (eg jjabrams) goes direct to
market and not through networks.

Josh: Fish put concerts on their site and allowed people to
download unprotected content. fish said we had a
relationship with our fans, we will make money from the stuff
we put out. they were not ness interested in working with
big labels. when you are an artist, it is easier to
delegate distribution and marketing to the publishers than
do it yourself. most producers, even if a direct
relationship, would still delegate the work and distribution
to someone who does this professionally.

Andy: can an artist walk away from the distribution networks.
it is happening and will happen more, but slow approach.
yesterday morgan freeman was talking about his own studio and
will be distributing over the web. lucas is not going to do
blockbusters and changing the way he is producing, he is
doing 30-50 short films over the year distributed digitally.

Q: what do you think about kids on line (AOL kids stuff).
digital stuff moving onto networks.

Josh: it is very expensive to find good tv shows. cbs have a
facility in las Vegas to screen pilots, spends lots of money
doing the research etc. it’s all a lot easier if you can
sit and wait for stuff to trickle up through internet and
become popular and then networks can see them. the lower
tiers will generate talent and will go up if great, and the
opposite way as well as things go down and not a broad
enough audience. the tiers give the flexibility for things
to move up and down.

Mark: studies are looking a the web as a farm system, put
stuff out there and see if people react to it and see what
the audience is.

Josh: the cost of tv production has been reduced, you can make
stuff pretty good on a computer., the cost of distribution
is 0. but mass distribution is very expensive. where costs
are low is where people try things out. there; has always
been more talent than success..the cheap stuff allows people
to create.

Q: a lot of what you are talking about are disintermediation,
where a lot of the power of the gatekeepers are changing.
the power gets split. comments on whether the trend is true
or if there is a missing piece and we have to move to a
different level of intermediary, gatekeeper. do we end up
with new forms, new services in a fractionalised advertising

Betsy: there’s an economic system that has not caught up with
the tech yet. people consume in lots of places.
advertisers have a different way of thinking about it. needs
to simply distribution. research has not caught up yet.
want to be able to say to the advertisers how many watched the
show in the different forms. they need a system that is
robust enough so that the agencies understand the numbers and
can share with clients and they can understand. youtube
will start to introduce more commercials in their products.
a lot of feedback about preroll..people don’t like the 30sec
ad just shoved on. do people disappear from yt once
commercials on the video. it is happening, you can’t stop
it, so how do you respond to it.

Josh. in 1995, walmart and tower records were the most
powerful music companies. Now apple and myspace are power
mongers. there are new companies that do it – the player
changes, not the role. if you want big money you need big
audiences. google buying yt is about creating a big
gatekeeper/intermediator. Brightcove put adverts across the
videos and send money tot eh content providers. they are a
new gatekeeper. the role stays the same. he sees this all
the time. the rise and fall of power. efficiency needs
someone in the middle

Andy: from the ad industry, looking for integration. you
have media traders for the different silos. thinks you will
begin to see buys across the silos, more like a mutual fund
manager, what is the portfolio, what’s the model across the
different categories. need to get the skill and the people.
the agencies become an aggregator as well.

Josh: the devices will have to change to allow you to
navigate across the large amount of content. so the service
provider, and set top box will start to curate and point
people. and people will have to pay to be on the top of the

Betsy: it happens now with mobile phone companies. they
curate what they display. the channel position is on the
cell, you have to negotiate this. you have to think about
channel position on multiple media routes. 60mins have had
a successful partnerships with yahoo, they get outtakes and
additional video etc. on Mondays when on yahoo homepage, the
traffic numbers spike. 82million come through this
page..this drives a lot of traffic. the pole position is
very valuable. when on youtube homepage, on directors cut
loop, does a lot better, so on the home pages, they are the
gatekepers, and this is a market to manage.

Q: in 2009, the fcc is saying that over the air will all be
digital. the number of channels could increase
dramatically, further fragmentizes the audience. undermines
the regulatory authority (as will as the advertising base),
undermines the compelling state interest in treating broadcast
as a right. the position is based on the scarcity rationale.
so what kind of tv will exist this, will networks be group
owners etc monopolies

Josh: forester is surveying at the moment, and hopes to be
able to prove that the average consumer has no clue what is
going to happen. so what happens when the 20% (who only get
over the air)or so people discover that their telly won’t
work. the scarcity rationale is already blown, it’s based on
those people who only have over the air and this reduces all
the same most people will not give up their cable. the fcc
continues to try and get public interest etc, the networks
are looking at multicasting, but think their survival is
still dependent on having one high quality the big
ones still likely to exist.

Andy: we hope we do not have another 17000 channels with
noting on it. as we move into the hd world, it is an
opportunity. they can be more relevant etc on the radio.
on the TV side it is not just channels but about relevance,
you need that filter to fins what they want. the companies
will be a filter.

Q: josh thought that vivo etc have to force advertisers to
look at other manners. challenge that advertisers are going
with their consumers. so going this as opposed to TV losing
its effectiveness. advertisers are not saying TV is not
working, but looking at others. and Betsy – is Google
friend or foe. does Google want to become the advertising
OS. to sell real-time, relevant advertising

Josh: did a survey in conjunction with assoc with national
advertisers – asked them if they were planning on shifting
money away from telly..a clear majority said yes (60% or so)
reducing TV by at least 20%, it is going to web. Presented
to the advertising conference. they asked the audience to
poll..what is biggest threat to TV advertising..they picked
clutter – too many ads on the TV. that’s monopoly thinking
as the networks add more ads to the programmes as they make
more money. there is a clear rumbling in the industry.

Andy: advertising is TV focused, to a degree where they may be
in a state of denial. peoples media usage has completely
changed. they are still looking at TV as pinnacle and this is
wrong. its not saying that it is ineffective but that role
and importance has been put on a plane. we have to create
the ecosystems where there are several channels speaking
together and creating a story. we do a lots of research for
18-24 yo and all you need to look at the anecdotes. TV is
not important, still watch it and not as relevant, they are
doing lots of other things all the time, their engagement is
very different as a marketing industry have to get out of
that state of denial and we are in a media neutral world.

Josh: all the big companies are saying they will move
significant proportions out of TV.

Andy: one of the reasons why not an immediate shift is
because the metrics not there to track effectiveness.

Josh: on record that 2007 is the year of change.

Betsy: Google friend or foe? it’s both. co-opetition. you
can both. you can be a partner and a competitor. we know
the Google guys well and working with them. we want to
understand what they are doing. trying to understand them..
they are trying to understand what the networks are doing,
Eric Schmidt is clear that they do not want to be a content
company and has stated that in meetings. they are clear they
are engineering companies and focusing on the ads. the
business are looking at the way the media planners buy the
media – its a human capital intense business to sell
advertising. Google comes in and thinks about making this
far more efficient for the advertisers. can’t you make that
a far more efficient process. wouldn’t the advertisers be
pleased with far more technological answers with lots of
numbers. they are looking at this really seriously. thinks
we will end up in the middle. it is less intense, and not
fully tech. if the media company is smart will embrace the
tech but do not give up their strengths. need to understand
what the agencies want and what the advertisers want. as a
distributors in the same positions. abscond get 30million
Unique/month. we look at the information distribution, how
you can find the info. think about the content going out in
tiny bits bites and now think about 30second bites that can
be bucketed and searched and tracked. trends is a great
product and working with this..plugging a word and see how
people are searching, geo, layer this on census and maps etc.
gives a tools for journalists etc to find out what people
are interested in etc. products that Google are creating
can be really helpful for media companies and news
information, in the business of reporting and telling
stories..the tech can help us report and find stories.

Q: entertainment can include informational content is served
up in the right way, eg MLB site…was wondering who stands
to win fro the putting stuff out there strategy. is it the
independents, or the aggregators. can you create a
community. or is it a mater of luck. does this mean the
aggregators win again in the long run. can you apply Google
to TV to find stuff as lots of content. now I’ve just
goggled josh and found presentation from 1997 about how
people would get TV in 10 years. so what would your
predictions now be!!

Josh. there are breakthroughs. Hillcrest homes. a remote
control that looks like a bagel, three button and a scroll
wheel, a TV remote, interacts with TV. a high level of
precision, like wii remote. combined with graphical
interface. this is a way you can get access. one of the CES
announcements will include this interface. does for telly
want the mouse does for computer. there is still an
important role for aggregators. who has the power in
ebay..comsumers has the power and not really great for
retailers as they buy stuff form each other. communities is
not just luck.,.there are certain qualities that help it take
off. just in brazil and everyone uses orkut. always about
empowering the community..can;t create too much rules..they
go elsewhere to carry on the conversation. there will be more viewing on demand, all different content
tiers, looking at anything you want when you want.
advertising still central to delivery. form of advertisements
will have greater variety. move away from 30sec to
interactive, branded entertainment etc.

Andy: you should not ask about creating of community but the
fostering of a community. but clients do not like the idea
of fostering they want to control it. you are not in the
position can help manage. you can foster, and it is
doable, but getting the client to that point is difficult.

Mark: it’s about the story and your relationship with your
fans., from that place you foster out your community and it
starts to build up on itself. as TV gets closer to internet
you will start at aggregators places to get the message out
and then you take the story deeper and the fans can go down
the rabbit hole. deepen and let people get time to explore.
people male more of an investment in their
entertainment. gets deeper, erg lost is perfect example. so
what other community am I going to dive now, heroes has won
this year., you can dig deeper. you get the novel, the
website etc. you put Easter egg out there. more things
you give your fans to talk about the stronger your community.

Q: people do watch sporting events after the fact…you said
that apple make devices, but are the major distributor of there any indications they want to move into

Josh: is being on the board of Disney not enough for apple? 2
years ago the songs sold on itunes has been 20 songs/iPod.
there are 4x ipods and the ratio is still the same. the
profit from itunes is tiny; they sold 8million ipods last
quarter. you have to make the de vice experience great but
happy to let the content people take all the risks with the
content. with the risks about the content choice. in the
content business you are only as good as your last hit.

Henry: what is the role of neilson ratings? they have just
added tivo ratings..and some shows have been way

Betsy: how much is based on diaries?

Josh: people meters are the key things. sweeps are a bit
diary based becoming a lot more automated. trying to fix
the problems. there are 8000 in their national panel.. they
move very slowly in adjusting to the tech.. the methodology is
base don home and not tracking the new stuff. they
announced a plan to monitor the new devices. they only came
up with dvr ratings in 2004, 5 years after they came
out. and had to retool for 6 months. now just doing vod
ratings. in any given month 95% of a VOD programme gets
watched. at least once. the sampling methodology does not
work with this distribution model. Rentrack track video on
demand..they give direct numbers on who downloads. the
problem is how to take all the different measures and assess
the value of the different flows. advertisers do not think
the metrics work.

Betsy: neilson web analytics not good as well for the sales.
so cbs go to home grown analytics and everyone uses
different ones so cannot compare across.

Andy: would like to see what happens if neilson disappears
for 6 months. it’s a crutch and a life-support. people are
looking for an absolute metric and does not know if they will
ever exist we have to aggregate info and look at
holistically and try and figure what it means. we are
stepping back from where and trying to understand how and
why. giving context to engagement, to connect back to the
brand. so the brand picks up something form the content

Josh: it costs nothing to put an ad on Google until someone
clicks though and engages. TV ads need to get to this..

Q: what may be the repercussions of the discussion in more
abstract terms, from a cultural perspective. scholars have
been interested in the changing forms of communities with the
changing technologies. the tech may have led to the waning
of other forms of communities, eg the erosion of appointment
viewing, reduction in mass audiences, the evening ritual of
watching the news, this has been an instrumental component
in citizenship and what bring the nation together. so how do
they see things unfolding on a society

Betsy: we think about this a lot. as a news organizing, the
6pm news is about analysis…so the show is on the web on
demand and there is a growing audience. but will not replace
the lost TV audience. we still have the money and reporters
to analyse and go round the world. what value is that?> it’s
different when broken up into a lot of different places. they
thought if not on TV then not on web so the 6pm is equivalent
of the home page. now half of audience is not through home
page, they come through search to find the story they want –
they are self choosing. so how do you take user and show
them other things and b ring them a bigger perspective. that
is a great frustration in how people look at news and info.
on other hand, the web has bought the 2 way conversation,
this is amazing, we launched the blog 18 months ago, and we
solicited opinions and take in user interest etc. we do better
stories, are more informed as we have that dialogue. we have
changed minds about selection of story etc, on the users etc.
the reporters are not on a pedestal and no longer tell you
what is can see the process and understand why
they say it is important…we want to be engaged and want to
here what the users are interested. the web guys go to the
editorial meeting and the web watching can change the TV
watching by understanding what users want.

Josh: the schedule is not ness for people to have community.
everyone experiences Harry potter separately. you can join
the community through different ways.

Mark: time shifting gives people the time, on your time, not
their time. no watercolor moment, but it goes on through the
day, you communicate with friends allover the worlds.

Andy: there is not that local connectivity with content to
the same extent..but it’s shifting to a larger network. the
social currency thing is coming bigger.

Q: there’s lots of people in the media chain. the social
development of what you 4 represent is fascinating. so, when
you have a structured business, with owned and not owned
stations, so what happens when the content owners own their
own distribution network, eg mlb…they have more power…how
will the content producers and the distributors cope with the
goring power

Betsy: sports are really expensive. the leagues charge lots
and lots of money. there is the money for the advertising
which allows the pays. cbs will save money if mlb went
their own way but loses advertising and chance o promote
programmes. think the league will still use the networks as
they do want to aggregate mass audiences for certain games.
mlb has done a great job on building their site as they have
spent their money well, investing back in it. cbs use the backend for some of their stuff. march madness on
demand has been a great success for them. has been worth
every penny. there was a lot of conversation about this, is
this going to cannibalize the TV. but there were a lot of
times when games not at a right time, and the web increased
the TV watching. so shouldn’t they do this them selves
(NCAA)> they may do, in the future. the experience was
great – offering all the opportunities and this generates a
lot more viewers offer what you want get more.

Mark: as a content producers this is far better as so many
different way doing stories an exciting time to be a content

Q: do you worry that piracy will continue to grow as people
find ways around the commercials. will people adjust to
watching things without commercials. #

Betsy – it will persist, and will stay. its not the lawyers.
give the consumers the right choice and give them ways to do

Josh – its a cat and mouse game. in the end if the
advertising gets more tightly couples with content even when
pirated still has value.

Andy: piracy will persist. they’re is an expectation that
people will take things and do things with it. so need to
look at how to get value out of this.

Mark: content takes money. so you have to get advertisers or

Nov 16

Post Conference Questionaires

Do you know those post conference requests to tell them how they did?  The ones that end up in the back of the packs or get emailed out.  Sometimes it’s worth filling them in.   Following the IAB day I went to a few weeks back, I filled in their questionnaire and it turned out I was the lucky person who got drawn out of the metaphorical hat (does anyone ever use a hat to do this anymore?) to get the prize of an iPod Nano.  Nice!

Nov 14

Time to make an impression

4 seconds is all it takes.   New research looking at first impressions of e-commerce sites found that users make their mind up about the site within 4 seconds, which is half the time it took in a few years ago.   As connection speed increases, so does people expectations.  No longer are you prepared to wait for a page to load.    And a slow load time does not just colour your perceptions of the website, it changes your perception of the company as a whole.

One complication that I have found is that the visions of an ‘advertising creative’ are far easier to create on a website – Flash can do so much to make it look like a commercial.  But the stark technical issues – that it looks good but is huge, takes a long time to load and then does very little – is something that is a far harder reality to get over.   ‘Static’ pages are still good!   I like this research, more evidence to move the creatives away from doing full flash only sites for everything.

Nov 14

Headline writing

Sometimes, you find a piece of writing that can only come from one country. Here’s a story about the shortage of sperm donors in England and how the National Gamete Donation trust are proposing using mobile collection trucks outside major sporting events. The headline:

“English Football Fans can now Prove who is the Biggest Wanker”

Posted in fun
Nov 14

Livegames – The Prague Network

I’ve signed up to play The Prague Network from the Livegames Network.   They;ve previously run something similar in Melbourne, Australia which looked interesting.    Played over 2 weeks, requiring an SMS phone, email and web access it could be fun.   But as ArgNet discusses, as it requires a subscription ($6.95) and a US address will it take off enough to be a success or are these too high a barrier?

Many other ARGs have either been run for fun or as part of a larger marketing campaign funded by the product company.  This one is being run as a specialist company and for less than a fiver (GBP) could be worth the money.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Nov 13

Appropriate langauge

The magistrate has a post listing some of the terms that are deemed inappropriate when addressing people.  it includes all the usual terms that are deemed politically incorrect or offensive.  It also includes things like ‘love, pet, dear’,  but no ‘hen’ which is the generic term found in wonderful places like Clackmannanshire.     The give no alternatives or context – what are you supposed to call a juvenile female member of the species if you cannot call them a ‘girl’ 😉  (and yes, I know it refers to using the term to an adult as an insult).

Nov 13


Yea!  Finally got web connection from home but only at a poor 2MB or there abouts, I feel so sloooowwww again after the 8 in the UK.  No blogging done, but plenty of TV programmes watched.

Nov 10

Nike Golf destroys things

Nike Golf have decided that the best way to market their new golf balls is to blast them at objects and film the resulting destruction in slo-mo. Great videos, aimed at convincing people that if only they buy these balls, they will be able to hit them hard enough to do such damage. You can vote on what you want the testers to destroy next – I voted for the Bunny. Bad design in that once I’ve voted, I have to refresh the page entirely to get back and add my name to their mailing list to find out when the next video is released; there’s also no privacy policy on the page, which surprises me considering how they normally are. the videos have not hit Youtube yet, so i can’t show you one, but here’s a shot of an exploding lavalamp.
Nike Golf lavalamp

Thanks to yesbutnobutyes

Nov 09


The agency where I work have been busy producing a series of 2-3min shorts, called Lovebites, that are being shown 5x/week in TBS here in the US, in partnership with Sunsilk. They focus on the life of a 25yo as she develops a relationship with her new man. A few episodes were filmed that would never make it onto US telly, so can be found on the website and the video sites, covering such topics as spanking, male fake orgasms and shared shaving.

Nov 09

Perils of International Banking

In the US, I’ve mainly been living in a cash world.   I have a credit card, but I keep it for big purchases, never using it for day to day stuff.    My debit card expires the end of this month and I’d arranged for one to be sent out earlier so I could guarantee getting it at home at a time I was actually there.   What they forgot to tell me is that in doing that they would cancel my current card.   So here I am, stuck in New York with no way of actually getting any cash for the day to day stuff.  There are ways round it, but they just take far more effort.  I could get some money transferred to my newly opened US account (they gave me 2 for the price of one and were very keen to give me lots of cheques) but I need to send a letter to the UK and then wait for the money to come back, so it would take 6-7 days.   Time to go move money between accounts to ensure I actually have credit, can pay for a plane journey and get some cash out so I can buy food and stuff.

Nov 08

YouTube: Time Invention of the Year

Yes, the writers at Time do know the actual site went live last year. But they are celebrating the sheer power of the people who have made the site their own.

“But even though they built it, they didn’t really understand it. They thought they’d built a useful tool for people to share their travel videos. They thought people might use it to pitch auction items on eBay. They had no idea. They had opened a portal into another dimension.”

They identify three trends that lead to its success:

1. cheap video recorders and cameraphones gave far more the ability to make videos

2. The changes in the web that lets people connect, create and share

3. The cultural shift that means people no-longer care for top-down controlled messages. The removal of the filters is here.

YouTube is ultimately more interesting as a community and a culture, however, than as a cash cow. It’s the fulfillment of the promise that Web 1.0 made 15 years ago. The way blogs made regular folks into journalists, YouTube makes them into celebrities. The real challenge old media face isn’t protecting their precious copyrighted material. It’s figuring out what to do when the rest of us make something better. As Hurley puts it, “How do you stay relevant when people can entertain themselves?” He and his partners may have started YouTube, but the rest of us, in our basements and bedrooms, with our broadband and our webcams, invented it.

So we are all winners here, the people who add the 70k videos a day and the rest of us who watch 100m a day. We are the ones that made the difference.

Nov 08

DRM, Zune and Microsoft

How to piss many customers off and confuse many others.   Anyone who buys a Zune from Microsoft is not going to be able to play tracks they have bought from Microsoft.   There’s why digital files should not be locked in but be in neutral, cross platform compatible formats – so you don’t lose the value.

Posted in DRM
Nov 07

Big Brother In Second Life

I’m not sure whether I think this is innovative or downright scary but Big Brother is moving into Second Life.   Check out the trailer, which appears to be the sales pitch for the franchise and does not mention the SL version.

In the virtual version, they are looking for 15 people in 3 time zones who can be online for 8 hours a day during December.  At the end of it, the last remaining inhabitant wins a tropical island inworld.   You can follow the who thing in SL and I guess through other media – any profits will go towards a charity chosen by visitors to the world.    Given the following of the show, I’m guessing we’ll see membership increase dramatically.  Hopefully the income will include additional hardware to run the world.

I’ve never seen the TV version, so can’t really comment on the potential for this, though I guess it is high.   However, I’m still not sure it’s April 1 somewhere, it just has that feel.

Nov 07

Million Dollar Spaceship

The Million Dollar Homepage was successful and was immediately followed by plenty of imitators, none of whom achieved the same notoriety. No-one had a really new take on it. But now I think we have one in Your Name into Space.

MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and the Georgia Institute of Technology Space Systems Design Lab are designing a satellite which will be launched into space in 2010. To support the development they are selling advertising on the satellite, at 1cm3 spaces.

In return for your donation (tax-deductible of course) you will either get a photo of the logo from space. If you spend the big bucks and get a place inside, you’ll get back the piece of the satellite. Anybody looking for an unusual Christmas present?

YNIS Satellite