Mar 10

SXSW – Emerging Social and Technological trends

As usual, I will be transcribing the talks and posting the notes. Analysis may follow later.

Unfortunately I did not make this panel in time for the introductions, so did not capture names of those speaking, and I was not close enough to read the name cards so quotes are not attributed, unless someone was called out by name.

Three points called out to me:

  • in a backlash to the current, open, anything goes on the web teens, one part of the next generation may be hyper private and wonder why we were all doing it.
  • Opening up of hardware will increase, mods will increase. even if it is only the early adopters, the fact that it can be done is likely to make the producer seen more user friendly
  • across the world, the mobile device is growing and this will be the main access point to the web. What are we doing about it.

Moderator: Laura Moorhead Sr Editor Culture, Wired
Laura Moorhead Sr Editor Culture, Wired
Andrew Blum Contributing Editor, Wired
Robert Fabricant Exec Creative Dir, Frog Design
Eliot Van Buskirk Columnist/Blogger, Wired News
Peter Rojas Engadget
Daniel Raffel Product Mgr, Yahoo!

Q: can you give an overview of where social and tech trends are going?

A: tech is driving culture. the intersection is having multiple effects, in how we live out lives and how we think about ourselves. always being connected, through a device n the pocket, changes thinking, tech is driving change and the people/culture are driving tech.

A: the extensions that are happening, the customisations, not in the original plan, make a more interesting place where people can find and make tools, relate to what interesting them

A: technologies don’t propagate until there is a social need for them peoples social identity is bound up more with the tech they use and people are trying harder to understand their place and it is harder to separate the two. their position in society is what people are checking on blackberry and email etc.

Q: what were the trends and disruptions over last 18 months that may have a ripple effect for us now.

A: widgets, that go across net. they are doing to the internet what the net dod to the world, taking away the sense of place. they connect people, wherever they are.

Q: subject of is place changing

A: look at plazes, connects online identity based on where you are. you are starting to position yourself, through IM, blog etc and on neighbourhood sites. not clear how shaping up, but are powerful in how they connect online

A: ties into larger macro trend of people having a sense of privacy. NY magazine did a piece a few weeks ago, how younger people are comfortable with it all on the we. tech have driven a transformation of how we understand ourselves and people feel comfortable in having on online persona, put everything on their, but negotiate the public and private selfs. the public self is more amplified.

A: (Robert) there is the same trend in business, it;s the same changes, how they IM at work etc. when doing research, they see that clients think these changes are only affecting a certain small demo, but talking it is a larger effect and not just isolated to people like us

Q: Eliot, what are you seeing with the music people you are dealing with

A: (Eliot) when we are acquiring all this data/info from major companies, we are giving out more of ourselves..there is an interesting flow,

Q: Daniel, talking about pipes, how do you think about what is out there for grabs, what is there for consumption

A: (Daniel) we wanted to be on the yahoo domain, we needed to extend profiles etc. we need to be careful with data; innovation happens in all spheres, business, legal etc. We let people clone api links etc, we need to work across companies to come up with standards etc, with projects that are thinking differently about how we use this information

Q: do you think we are getting to the point of a backlash with transparency

A: (Daniel) freebase launched yesterday looks like google base. so interesting to watch these copies…and you don’t have a perception of how they will handle this data, think how google handles mail and search, you may go somewhere that does not have a conflict. may be going back to a niche service

Q: peter, what do you think about those whose whole life is online..will people go the opposite direction.

A: (Peter) so the next gen may think about how people blogging everything was so square. there is a chance, as youth culture often defines itself as the opposite of the one before, so would not be surprised if there was a rebellion against it. we won’t see a mass rejection, it will see something.

A: we could end up with more of a clicky type thing. we may reach a point where you see more private networks, you may have to have met someone in real life to get onto the network. there could be a segmentation of the all for one approach

A: lexicographers have a google test – if the word is not on google, it does not exist. is there a blur between what is real and unreal, if no online then not real.

Q: you can have a niche interest and then be in a community of 1000s. so how can you get people to break out of silos, see another influence?

A: (Robert)from a design, there is an amplification of influence. there’s a lot of companies trying to sift through this and working out what is going to have an impact. we try and sift through the trends; how to interpret the trends and put into a product strategy is a growing industry.

A: that used to be part of newspaper roles. we may be going back to this type of aggregators…so blogs can take this role, still having people in the mix

A: (Robert) we have a lot of people believing that the voice of the customer are going to show them the way; it changes the way they think; we can amp[lify a single voice and change the direction a company goes through. but a single voice is a great point of leverage but not just what you want to design to.

Q: collection and aggregation…so does this lead to customisation. What examples are there, from a design perspective how do you cope with this.

A: when it cones to hardware, manufactures tend to freak out a little to much. it’s not usually something that a huge number of consumers will adopt, just the early ones. but by allowing it you give the appearance of being more consumer friendly and gives better perceptions

A: still waiting for modification to lead to a better commitment to upgradeability. with many early adopters, this is not a strong belief. a lot of businesses are interested in the secondary economies…but others still look at making the stuff disposable and consumer needs to push back on.

A; the iphone was perfect as it was not perfect yet, it was an empty vessel for what you could put into it. raises questions about how it could be upgrading.

A: but the iphone is closed and is resistent. I think this is a mistake as the trend is for people to have more control about what they can do.

A: it may have been closed cos of carriers…offering hardware hackable devices onto the networks is an opportunities..t he carriers may be in the best position to monetise this.

A: but they are so resistant to this. cells need to more computers..but only hardware/carriers can change (RC – i think this is a US focused statement, given soem EU trends)

Q: we can drive innovations. what would you say are some of the demo/population trends that will influence

A; the babyboomers having grandchildren, the children having large screens and large pipes/ surprised that there is not more video conferencing in living room. the infrastructure is there but no one is doing it.

A: you have the combination of aging population and babyboomers thinking they had control and were steering country, combined with insecurity and financial issues, and this will drive, with their need for a sense of control. there’s premium security services, eg to speed your way through airports. this will drive political and technical trends, how they can control their home and life environment. there;s going to be a fortress built.

Open Questions:

Q: how do international trends affect the US? how long from UK/japan to here

A: one example would be europe’s focus on carbon emissions and how long until here. look at airline industry, talking about being carbon offset. in the next 6 months we may be talking about his

A: we are getting strange laws about webcasting etc, companies that are based in other companies are not beholden. we try and it does not always work. as they realise they can make money and innovate more than us than that can be a huge driver.

A: Who on your team impacts this; one person can only see so far out. the teams need to reflect the international look. we need to think bigger about who we use and how we apply the products.

A: I’m seeing a convergence of futurism and environmentalism. Being a futurist is becoming the same thing as being an environmentalist.

Q: so how about the global south (RC – a term, nor the panel, had heard before. Primarily Latam and Africa)

A: seeing in africa about building out networks, china investment is helping there, not fully there yet but getting there.

A: outside of NA and EU, most people access through a mobile device; we need to factor that in. what is the mobile experience?

A: we are seeing an explosion in client interest and expectation about how services can be adapted across markets, but they are focused on developed markets. the interest has increased dramatically over the last year but still at early stage. India is an interesting flash point, eg the letter and email convergence with the post office working across

A: seen a lot of subversive developments, to work round state controls.

Q: what are your opinions on education and how that may change with these trends.

A: increased in metrics, getting everyones grades centralised to access from state and parents. pushing education towards more testing base.

A: there is a growing need to connect together how people learn, such as games. Frog is looking at creating tools with a client that can help this.

A: there have been some interesting schools that have leveraged technology; every student is getting laptops, rooms have digital whiteboards. teaching digital musics etc.

Q: what’s the future for email? will it be replaced by im and sms?

A: not going anywhere. it’s asynch, no one needs to be on the other end
A; video conference will increase; able ‘facetoface’ in a single virtual place.
A: telepresence has potential to change and amplify social interaction..

Mar 10

PSFK Conference – Inspiration from commercial art

Interview: Inspiration From Commercial Art – Wendy Dembo
How do artists use their inspiration to develop commercial art for brands and their agencies. Wendy Dembo interview leading artists Scott Campbell and Laurie Rosenwald.

Although listed as an interview, both artists actually gave a presentation about how they worked before being asked a few questions. Both artists work with brands and publications to produce work, with a handmade feel. Take a long look at their sites to see beautiful examples 😉 Most of the presentations were about the work and the process behind the development, so not too much to blog. However, this was definitely one of the most entertaining sessions of the day, Laurie in particular.


  • starts off with a blob, that is the spark. Trying to be creative is as good as trying to be charming. She collects lots of things, make stuff out of the collectibles, use them as inspiration. She does lots of lovely stuff and then keeps seeing it killed by client.
  • She does not think of herself as ‘street’, despite being called that. She’s very refined. There’s a trend for people who are educated to pretend they are not. She’s stopped teacing as students don;t know anything. Education is being given a bad vibe.


  • A tattoo artist, who got into advertising by accident. He’s most well known for his campaign for Camel.
  • he was asked to work on the Victoria Secret redesign. There were 6 artists in the room; the other 5 pulled out computers, he pulled out a notebook. Everything he does is by hand
  • He learnt tattooing from a sign writer, whose craft was/is dying as machine designed signs took over. He’s now moved into watercolours; there’s a commitment there, it’s like tattooing paper. There’s nothing computerised in what he does, everything is unique, from his personality.
  • Working on tattoos, doing 8-10 a day means he works with 8-10 art directors. He’s good at reacting, at figuring out what’s expected and what will look good. He has the ability to present his ideas as their ideas, to get the right level

It’s difficult to capture the energy in a post – you have to go see the art.

Mar 09

PSFK Conference – Eco-shift or Greenwash

Eco-Shift or Greenwash? – Tamara Giltsoff (OZO Car)
Brands and organizations seem to be taking up the call to ‘get green’ – but how much of this is misleading posturing?
Panelists: Marc Alt (MAP), Jill Fehrenbacher (Inhabitat),

This wa a general panel on sustainability and green credentials; there were a lot of examples given in the chat.

  • Walmart is one of the leaders in transforming their business through sustainability, but do not promote it in their advertising. They are doing an incredible amount of work, but it gets hidden. But there will be a change in their positioning soon. Walmart are one of the largest buyers of organic cotton in the world.
  • Diesel clothing – have put out a statement about global warming. But are they going to follow up on the message?
  • HSBC are at the forefront of green messaging in Europe, but how relevant is it to customers? They are carbon neutral, but is this an understood position by their customers?
  • are green consumers a specific group, or is it relevant for all consumers. Just exactly is green?
  • H&M have been trying to do stuff with materials, organic cotton. But the company has a bad rep. people love to hate, so not necessarily getting recognition.
  • A company may have good intentions, but the greenness needs to be part of the whole culture; gestures are nothing but gestures, they need to commit at a deeper level.
  • Green marketing is a liability; it is too easy to bash. Marketers need to work across the organisation to make sure the message and commitment is consistent. Corporations should engage in both internal and external transparency when it comes to being green. It’s very easy to see through greewashing. You have to be sincere and commit, can;t pay lipservice.
  • BSkyB in the UK have sent out energy efficient light bulbs with every set top box, which is supposed to offset the emissions.
  • if making a commitment to sustainability, have to address the environmental, social and economical areas. do all 3 otherwise it will come back and hurt you.
  • Some businesses, such as Body Shop, are becoming like mini-NGOs, tackling multiple issues. Challenging you to do something about it.

Some good ideas and thoughts in here, but at times, i thought they needed to take a step back and explain some of the terms. Key issues – commit, be honest and transparent. Make a real difference by addressing it as a company and don’t make token gestures. However, you can say this about any ‘issue’ a compnay may wish to address, not just the green ones.

Mar 09

PSFK Conference – Dave Rosenberg

A Whole New World – David Rosenberg (JWT)
What is driving the widespread adoption of video gaming and online worlds? What cultural shift is video gaming defining?

I work with Dave on a day-to-day basis, so it was interesting to see what he had to say about a space we donlt spend too much time discussing at work.

  • Games were social activities. The modern era started with arcades, buildings where people gathered to play games.
  • Video consoles spread into the home; we have the PC, PS3, Wii, XBox360; portables such as PSP, Nintendo DS, the mobile. Andthey are connected, online, wifi enabled. The playing firled has increased outside the home.
  • everyone has access to games.
  • Personalisation is becoming more important. Avatars increase
  • The average gamer is aged 33, has played for 12 years. 35% od US families play games together. 38% of gamers are female, 42% of online gamers, playing and average of 7.4 hrs/week. 25% are over 50. 68%Boomers, 52% GenX wanted technology for Christmas.
  • Connectivity has led to expansion; online is a meeting place. XBox live has 2 million conversations/day. Always on, always ready.
  • World of Warcraft- very social, has a strong team aspect. You win together and it always looks great. There are 8m paying customers, 2m in the US. China has 3m.
  • casual, coffee break games are huge. 21m impressions in jan on Yahoo games. These promote mobile gaming, predicted to be a $10b business by 2009.
  • Huge cultural impact; music and peripherals are exploding ie dance, dance, guitar hero. It’s all about control – controlling what you want to do, when you want it.
  • Moving foreard, download distribution will grow; it will become mainstream. Credit cards could give you in-game points instead of miles. The Wii has serious moved the console into ‘mainstream’

This was a very fast walk through the space; Dave culd probably talk all day on it. Key takeaways – it’s mainstream, you have to be aware of it; you can play in the space but play nicely. Add value, don’t exploit.

Mar 08

PSFK Conference: Elizabeth Speirs, Dead Horse Media

The conference opened (at the early hour of 830) with a talk from Elizabeth Spiers, founder and publisher of Dead Horse Media.

Tomorrow’s Media Today
– What are the key developments in media publishing in terms of genre, format and functionality? What should we be reading, watching, interacting with?

  • 10 years ago, we were expecting broadband, X-platform programming and media fragmentation. Today, we are still expecting this, but it’s actually happening now. Just not in the way we thought it would.
  • broadband is really here; x-platform programming does not mean putting a magazine on the web, but using the web to present content in a way that suits it.
  • with DHM, all the properties are online and there are no offline analogues, eg DealBreaker, a gossipy, fun Wall Street blog. We focus on tight niches. The ones that work well are user centric- what do you really need. People want information in an entertaining manner.
  • Why is it different? it’s ends vs means, it’s familiarity vs usability.
  • Don;t assume you can do standalone media, it;s all connected. Online media provides a low cost test market -v you can launch a site with 3 people and $2k and see whether it works in 6 months. Far easier and cheaper than a traditional magazine.
  • Overnight popularity can often be achieved by taking an idea that’s already out there and making it usable for all, ie Digg, YouTube.
  • agencies are often looking for a brand extension, often use DHM to consult on this area. Having consumer facing entertainment, on a blog, can help broaden the audience. But it can scare advertisers off. Dealbreaker can be too frivolous. It is read widely in Wall Street, media age 29, salary around 250k, but advertisers don’t always get it

On looking over my notes, I’m not sure I understood exactly the key message was. But I think it was that ‘old’ media has changed, you can use ‘new’ media to do things differently, not everyone is comfortable with the new communication channels but the user is, likes it, uses them more and more. So advertisers need to change.

Mar 02

MoMoNYC February

Mobile Monday this week was set up as a demo night, with 8 companies presenting for 6 minutes. The host (Dan?) did a brilliant job of keeping everything moving and ensuring no-one lasted longer than their allotted time. I did not make all of the presentations, but here are brief notes from those I saw.

Greg Harris – Mobivity

  • Set up and run mobile campaigns
  • A simple user interface, to manage lists and all aspects of campaign
  • They’re still having issues with tmobile
  • The api takes incoming messages and pushes off with an api to company’s own systems for management
  • Working on ability to send image/video into the interface – can manage to send correct images using a
  • database to resize images

Doug Moore – Class math

  • Make educational software – 100k classrooms using them,
  • they collect data from child assessments, collates and then delivers back to web or mobile app
    on pdas and handhelds
  • have the walkthroughs of the assessments – remove the need to carry a lot of docs around with them, gives prompts of what they are going to say
  • also helps with problem solving assessment – how do kids work through the math problems
  • is a technology layer that sits on top of the devices, so can be ported to many devices,
  • you can track mistakes by kids
  • also detects common mistakes and helps diagnose issues with thinking
  • can track whole classes and show how they are doing – track work against them.
  • not on wireless synch…there are infrastructure issues. schools have low tech
  • timesavings – average 50% savings. also, the increase in frequency of assessment improves the child’s development – Cutless Steve Bull

  • working in entertainment areas – campus treasure hunt played with cellphones
  • cutless cell phone tours, eg historical tour
  • carrier and wireless agnostic
  • did karaoke opera and took people voices
  • this is their first b2b app
  • addresses the nightmare of a written report – so you telephone your sales report in, generates automatic report in text that gets delivered..and you approve later. later you get an auto reminder, at a date and time you specify, then the service calls you and the client at the appointed time through the server – so when you do a follow up, the client can get their remarks recorded directly – under client control
  • records the voice and converts to text….transcription are being done by hand.
  • report can be emailed out.
  • can run on wireless
  • not yet integrated with salesforce but are looking at it
  • 150$ a month..biggest expense is transcription. looking at moving to voice recognition when gets to a good enough point

ILoop Mobile Vince Traylor

  • a mobile marketing platform, the fastest most scaleable (according to themselves)
  • serves out SMS, WAP, subscriptions etc – target market is brands and advertising agencies so they can create mobile platform and business
  • gives you the tools to create, connect and control
  • create quizes, polls, subscription modes, connect numbers etc
  • have apps themselves and the the ability to give you a one stop shop
  • can create wap site dynamically, with drag and drop build of site
  • can offer ringtones, wallpapers, RSS, soon doing an ad server you can ad to your pages
  • you can text keyword, it can send you to wap page
  • remote publisher – ability to create social mobile marketing – can connect small groups with one another
  • can use non-commercial you can do proof of concepts to pitch client

Benjamin Eptsein – personal search syndication – Septep systems

  • understanding is that there is a passion for knowledge – goal is to make repositories and share info – so you need search
  • want to make a mobile search easy to use, gives people the ability to bring knowledge management to the masses – build their own repository and provide the tools for it
  • will demonstrate it
  • set up account..set up the engines, the mobile app gives you directories, you can search through, drill down through categories – (hierarchical based on on categories)
  • can give you location based search – put together a directory..working on adapting the results based on where you are.
  • also does word search…gives you results this way as well – within a directory
  • you can assemble collections of wap WAPWorld category. other results are stripped data from sites, these one in this category and specific for web
  • Q: why is this different from digg, delicious A: they are tagging not categories – they are assembled differently…a bigger search results. has a search process – continues to update then info based on the template you set up to get the data – dynamically keeps it updated

VectorMax – Alan Krebs

  • Anitones – a way of delivering synthetic video over wireless, can do 3d animations, videos, streaming
  • looking at developing new ways of streaming video – compression etc, with mobile an area of focus
  • mobile anywhere solution,end to end with content, player and video deployment
  • on symbian, java and some windows phones
  • can give you a personal agent – a character who answers your questions
  • can take a picture of yourself and get it put into an animation (on their servers) and send the film onto people
  • have a videomotion caption system
  • animation is rendered on the phone directly with the app – so can use low stream 2kbps stream
  • need the player on the phone – or deliver it as video, but quality is better with players
  • app takes up 200k on phone….mainly for hi end phones

Stowe Group – Janet Sullivan/Jonathan Schilling

  • HopCheck – targeted to sysadmins…sends updates of systems to phones
  • to monitor apps/servers/apps. install agents and can access the systems
  • you can take actions from the smart phones
  • can predefine events that will send you alerts when there are problems
  • runs on a variety – windows mobile, palm os, java etc
  • can see what services are running..and can take actions, see laerts etc from phone without needing to get to terminal
  • pretty customisable – can define applications and services that you want to monitor
  • can scan logs
  • You can use it to monitor sales ans store data – not just systems
  • security us https/ssl from phone to server to server.

Jason Send Word Now

  • started as an alert system, a service provider for emergency notification and alerts. Now incident management services
  • now looking at changing to allow people to manage from mobile devices. Not marketing, but business critical apps, eg Walmart co-ordinating employees during an emergency
  • the account has all the contact info and can then send out info through all different channels
  • can do via calling a number and speak the message and send it out
  • will track responses – turns into a 2 way mode
  • can get people direct into a conference
  • can allow a 1800 number to be set up so they can call in and get message
  • this is now all available in pda and palm and blackberry
  • incident management via blackberry dashboard

Unfortunately, I did not see any ‘good presentations’; there were problems with running the pres and with connecting the the web. Nothing was slick, there were problems with using the mike; the machine set up for the presentations seem to put all of them on autoplay, which caused no end of concern. It came over strongly that having on 5-6 minutes to present an idea is very, very, difficult. It’s too tempting to try and do a full company and product pitch when really only have the chance to pick one thing and do that as well as you can. Capture the imagination with that one thing and point people to the web site where all the rest of the information can be found. And if you can make that interactive and rich, you can get all your messages over at that contact point

Feb 07

Blogher Business

I’m quite excited to be on a panel at Blogher Business 07, in New York in March. A 2 day event, looking at how social media, including blogs, can be used in a corporate or marketing environment. The event is split into 2 distinct days; the first focusing on getting everybody on the same page, ensuring understanding of all the terms and jargon that it is far too easy to slip into. The second day looks at how you can use the medium to make a difference in your business, or even to decide that it’s not quite ready yet.

Feb 02

Google Speaker Event – Adam Bosworth

The second event on Monday was the first in 2007 Google Speaker events. This looks to be the start of a series of events that Google is planning in their new space in New York. And a good, large space it is, even if painted a depressing battleship grey. But the lovely spread of food and the free beer or wine made up for that 😉

The first speaker was Adam Bosworth, talking about Physics, Speed and Psychology. Although as he explained it the title was designed to try and get the organiser to cancel the talk! He initially thought that the target audience was going to be a small group of Googlers and had written it up that way, but did not change it when told it was to a far larger (about 150?) external group.

Nothing new or ground breaking here, Adam just talked through some of his history, trying to put explanations into why things failed or succeeded. Overall, extremely enjoyable, espeically about the history of Ajax, even if he felt he was moving occasionally into the area his girlfriend had described as POF territory, ie pontificating old fart.

In 96/97 Adam was working on a team that was developing DHTML, know known as AJAX. As far as they determined, the reasons for moving this way were sound = it was strategically well thought out as it looked like the internet was moving applications to a thin client, not the thick client beloved by Microsoft at the time (so the team was not exaclty the most popular with their message) and people were going to need a high level of interactivity on the web, similar to the current Windows apps. So they went ahead and built this office package, with spreadsheets and presentations and word processors but no one used it. Their assumptions were completely wrong.

The companies they were trying to sell this to did not like it (Adam paraphased their reaction as ‘stop developing this stuff, go away, we hate you). The rich functionality of the apps meant that it would need a high level of support, of which very few of the customers had. In 1997, web apps were used occasionally, not day day out as office aps were. Therefore the barrier to learning it in a useful way meant that everything needed to be extremely simple to reduce the need for support; it needed to be intuituve so that if you only visited it a few times a month or less, you could still work it. The other barrier was speed; to build any of these apps in JS takes a lot of JS, a lot of bandwidth and the connections, and chips, were too slow. The delay and unpredictability of the response meant it was never liked.

Unsurprisingly, anything over .5sec reaction produces frustration; the best reaction time is less than this but it appears that people can live with half a second. Variations in network speed also meant that the reactions of the apps were extremely unpredictable, the system did not work consistently so turned people off very quickly.

Ten years later though and Ajax is well into its second life. The physics has got better, bandwidth is far, far faster and so are the chips. Carefully crafted applications are fast enough for people to use (although if you’ve tried Yahoo TV guide you can see it’s easy to build something that is a step backwards in functionality. The other psychological change is that people are using web apps far more; the increase in use frequency means that the interfaces can be richer.

Next up for examination was the PDAs, which have gone through a similar life cycle. The first iterations were complicated, pen computing, requiring writing recognition which was unpredictable and did not work very well. The second iteration carried on with the writing, but asked that the human learned to write in a special language. Whilst still unpredictable and slow, it was an improvement. The third iteration, the Blackberry and Treo just decided to go with the keyboard. You can work faster, it’s predictable, there’s no translation delay between input and it appearing in the screen.

The slowness and lag is why mobile browsing has been slow on the uptake. SMS, the simple text message, took of by accident. It was built for testing but with it’s simplicity, speed, asynchronicity helped spread usage. Now physics has caught up with the vision on mobile computing and browsing on a mobile device is practical and not too painful.

The final area looked at was natural language, which has failed so many times. If you can ‘talk’ to a computer in your natural language you expect it to behave like a human and demand a precision that is no there. But it’s resurrection came in part from Microsoft Help, which needed some way to help people navigate it’s vast depository of help documents. Search, with it’s fuzzy logic, is perfect for natural language, it works when it doesn’t really because it is a time saver, it filters the noise out there.

So the key lessons Adam has learnt?

  • Think about people’s activities
  • Determine the frequency of use; the less it it used the more simple it needs to be.
  • If it takes greater than 2 seconds to perform a task, break it down to smaller chunks – don;t make people wait

A fun talk, full of anecdotes and some useful advice. Google are planning to do a fair few events from the sound of it, so plenty to look forward to.

Jan 30

NYC January Mobile Monday

Update: I got the wrong impression from the talk (see, told you that this was all new) and Chaals has updated more in the comments and gives me a far clearer picture of what I was trying to understand.

On Monday I went along to Mobile Monday, this month a 5 hour celebration of SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics. This was held at the Samsung Experience in the Time Warner centre, which remained open during the event so I’m sure the people wandering around looking at the electronics were suitably bemused.

Whilst developing in SVG goes way over my head, it was interesting in hearing from people and companies that develop in the space, giving me an idea of where applications are going. Whilst not ubiquitous, SVG is on enough phones on models to make an impact across the board, being particularly prevalent in high end corporate models where the main applications appear to be in business intelligence and other professional services. But with the release of it far more phones with Java, applications are going to expand.

One point pushed by Charles McCathieNevile, Chief Standards Officer at Opera, is that SVG is perfect for building platform agnostic web applications, or would be if IE and firefox adopted it. He particular emphasised it’s use in building accessible websites, a passion of his. A lot of the same challenges that come with building computer-based accessible applications are there for all apps on the browser, tiny type, limited access to keyboard, lack of colours etc, so solving those issues for the small screen means that your apps should be better on a larger screen. His desire, and that of others speaking, was for one web – the same code being used across all platforms. Charles was someone I’d love to have had a longer conversation with.

Another speaker was Daniel Appelquist, from Vodafone and one of the founders of Mobile Monday London. I must admist when he started to explain what Vodafone was I thought he was being ironic, not realising that the brand is not known very well in the US at all (being 40% of Verizon Wireless only). One of his key focuses in his job is Open standards and vodafone’s participation in setting and evangelising such standards so that it is easy to build mobile platforms across manufacturers and carriers. They’ve been using SVG to develop soem great applications, one such being a Bubdesliga Player that launched in Germany 2 weeks ago, which brings you live scores from football games, news and live video clips. The demo he showed looked pretty cool. One last thing he announced was that within the next 2 weeks, Vodafone would be launching a developer community network, called betaVine. Targeted at individual or small company developers, the idea is to support them and give a showcase for their applications so that early adopters can find and test them them out. This will launch sometime in the next 2 weeks.

I didn’t stay til the end, moving out to go to the Google speaker event, but some thought starters about what could be possible in the US.

Jan 24

Get a First Life and take a Blog Survey

You will, I hope, have seen Darren’s Get a First Life site, a call for people everywhere to sign up and try some of this real life stuff; you have to scroll down to comment 16 to get the real social impact of this, with Linden Labs posting their take on it and giving a licence for the logo to be used in making of the First Life tshirts.

Get a First Life

But, just before you rush out and use your real genitals, take the blog survey over at, giving Darren lots of numbers for his Northern Voice presentation (and you may just win something)

Jan 24

SXSW NYC drinks and Social Media Club

In between work, I managed to get out to two interesting gatherings this week. The first was a pre-SXSW reception for people who have been to SXSW or are planning to go. For a couple of hours we got to gather and socialise, making new acquaintances to chat to when to get to Austin. The first person I chatted to actually worked in the next building to me; I subsequently bumped into him at the lunch place the following day 😉

Last night was a get together of the NYC Social Media Club. Unfortunately I missed the networking part of the evening, only getting there when it reached a more formalised discussion stage and had to run away again beofre the dinner. From what I could tell, there were a number of experts in the audience but the majority were marketing and PR professionals who were looking to understand the space, as evidenced from the agenda. I think this group is going to be a good resource to help people understand what they can and can’t do. Next time, I have to get there for the full time and stay for dinner!

Jan 22

BarCamp London 2

Ian’s updated the BarCamp London information and spaces are going quickly by the look of it. The main sponsor is BT, who are providing the venue and the wifi. Get over here and sign up!

Update: The sign-up went live about 1pm GMT this morning and an hour latr about 60% of the places are gone. They won’t last the day!

Dec 17

Loïc’s answer

Loïc has finally worked his way through the multitude of feedback around ‘his’ conference last week (I know it’s not just his but he is the face of it) and responded with a comprehensive and well thought out answer. Reading through his thought process for why he altered things and where he wants to go, breaking outside the box of a ‘blogging’ conference, I can understand what he was trying to do. Still don’t agree with his methods and he admits he made mistakes. But what he says he wanted to do and where he wanted to move towards is clear. Now. It was just not clear to many participants (nor speakers?) when they signed up; my guess is that the audience next year will be far different and may be more sympathetic towards the goals. But this year I’ve got friends who feel hard done by, who feel they have wasted precious money, so I can understand their reaction as well.

Update: Ewan’s response (He was a speaker).

Nov 18

Virtual Worlds – Futures of Entertainment

Not the Real World Anymore

Virtual spaces are more than sites for emulating the real world. They are becoming platforms for thought experiments — some of which involve fantasies we would not like to enact in the real world, others involve possibilities that we may want to test market before putting into practice. Much more than simulacra of Real Life or a 3D version of text-based Internet communities, online worlds represent new sites for considering questions of community and connectivity. Marked by user- creativity, online worlds balance, sometimes precariously, the rights of users with the rights of sponsoring organizations. As we move closer to the cyberpunk vision of a wholly parallel ‘metaverse’, questions of power, community, and property are coming to the fore.

John Lester, Ron Meiners, Todd Cunningham Eric Rever Gruber (corrected from comment, thanks)

I did not take notes on the intros which turned more into presentations about the worlds and attitudes. See the user biographies and the official blog for this info.

Josh: what is the attraction of an online world?

John: what’s the attraction of dreaming? Two things…connecting with people around the world with similar interests. You connect people on a global sense and you can find people that like what you like.. secondly the dreaming part…the virtual environments speak to brain on a deep biological level…we thrive in a 3d environment. We got it wrong in the 90s with people wearing gear on head…we can take just enough info and form a complete whole.

Ron: in general there is an aspirational quality…to find some of our hopes realised…it sort of widens pipeline of information coming in…online we loose the rich environment that we are in…we lose tactile, visual info and in a virtual space you can at least being to replace these. You can create visual cues, although not a subtle as rich…people develop ways of wishing to speak next etc…there’s more info///you can replicate more of daily experience

Todd: just to participate. participate in the media…people are using more media than they ever have.

Q: Are these global spaces? Are they a third or 4th place?

John: we’ve lost some of those places like bars etc the place where social capital is bridged…this can take the place…we have the opportunity to have a global audience…we can find the best matches for our ‘tribe’ we can have weak ties as well

Ron: some of the fun is the process of developing those ties

Q: is there a distinction in types and activities between the free ranging spaces like SL and WoW? How significant is story?

John: Sl is fundamentally a blank slate…it is an environment within which there are games. And the games can vary. There is 19th century England, there are zoning laws, if you say the word dude you will be bought to task. They make analogue watches. You have other role playing types. We like to experience stories, there’s room for all of things. At times I want to sit back and have a movie fed to me and …there’s room for all. People like to go between, from a game with predefined goals to just socialising.

Ron: interest in this sort of creativity is global…there’s this spectrum, between top down and bottom up creation. danah wrote about the value of being able to flex in and out of different social identities, disneyland is a whole lot of fun at times; there are design and management aspects that go into Disney that makes it very successful. Similarly, too, I’m not sure…I’ve also worked with Myst community. In a nutshell you have found this place…blurring this line between participant and player. How you create story space, as opposed to top down creative mandate, you’ve got participation with wide story space…create something that people can tell stories within the bounds. Tech is enabling us to look at the question now.

Todd: Virtual Laguna beach…just starting out. It was meant to be ‘flat’ etc, we went into this with assumption that there was a huge fanbase who would not normally participate in these kind of things. So what sort of games would these people work with. Working with Secret deodorant…it is a partner. The campaign to get women to tell their secret…they had a tv campaign and they created forum inside virtual leguna to talk about their secret…using machinima to record their secrets…we evaluate and then have an event to play the confessions. That ability to be showcased… plays out well for advertiser and for us.

Josh: We talk about these sites as places to explore thought experiments. Are these places for corporations…can we take things back to real world…or are the things real relationships in themselves and do not need to be experimental.

John: the concept that we are a single identity is an illusions. We are different at work, with family, with friends. Online environments are showing how fluid our brains are. I think the people in these environments are extremely real even if they seem a little weird. There is a beauty to people exploring different aspects of themselves. Unless everything is in a clear roleplay you should assume all these interactions are real.

Ron: simulations in respect to gameplay…simulations are learning experience and that is a large part of why we do things. This can be games to social skills. You can say that we take those skills back out of the world but in another sense it is the same stuff. We are not differentiating these experiences, no switch between real and not. That is coming more and more obvious, developing a richer interrelationship between two facets of lives.

John: I work with aspergers syndrome, where knowing social situations does not come instinctively…they can learn through practice and is terrifying…worked with online patient communities..loved using online boards etc to become social and dipping toes in water. Bought a group into SL which was private…create ideal social setting…one started making boats and selling it. They use the environment to practice social skills, they thought they were learning how to do it. They got confidence, they achieved something. Now when they go into physical world, it was still scary but they could do it.

Eric: testbedding, you can test marketing, people ar living out lives for hours and hours, they spend more time there than with products in real worlds. How do you make real products inside, treat them like real places etc. They are new hangout spots, the hottest places, accessible anywhere in the world. We can treat them like real people…

John: do not look at like a Petri dish, need to engage in conversations and realize there are social fabrics to them

Ron: that was one of the guiding visions at the founding at multiverse…that the cost to building was such a barrier…so independent teams could not make them… multiverse gives these opportunities. There was no way for indis and academics to do it. This gives a toolset for people to experiment.

Josh: there was article in Harvard Business Review…advertising and branding was about tapping into peoples fantasies. So is your avatar you…are the avatars actual representations?

Todd: they can be. If you understand why people chose there avatar you can market to that.

Ron: the emerging change in relationships between content creators and consumers…we are moving out of time when there were definitive answers and it is all becoming a flux with dynamic interaction and there will not be a solution that applies across the board.

John: it is important to give people freedom…In SL there is a place called Dublin that can be created….but you see people and giant robots in the place. You have a fluidity of how people represent themselves…it was all created by the residents…give people the tools to create what they want to create…what they do is not completely bizarre and is not completely mundane but somewhere in the middle. The create bars and streets and a dash of Through the Looking Glass.

Laguna Beach

Eric: widely successful show, went to the city of Laguna beach…the show producers. Took about 10-12 kids and they follow their lives and how they live around the city. We decided to take the show and make a virtual world. It is not exactly the same city, but majority of places in the show are there. There are restaurants, shops, everyplace in the show we try to map out. At the start of season 3 we were working about what it would be. We decided to build the city out, and when cast go to spring break in the show then we unlock the place in the world…you can do the same things. They watch it on Tv and then come in world and lvie the Laguna world. It was unbelievable how quickly…once they saw what the event was, they gravitate towards it. The kids are barely video game players, definitely not in 3d worlds. We gave them the basic tenements of how to walk, talk and shop. It is still an attractive place,,people come top meet up

Todd: in the testing, in this world we had people teaching us but we had to start completely fresh, teching how to walk and talk. Some of it was the shock that was actually happening as they do not do this. We had advertisers that were connected but they were doing it as a test. A lot of media outlets were interested in what we are doing. We were not trying to make the front of NYT, but there was interest.

Eric: ways we didn’t expect? When we first started, we tied it to the show, they would play out the show. They quickly formed own community, did own events formed own friends.

John: can they create own events?

Eric: yes, lots of clubs…we blocked out and let them book events. In the first month there was a birthday party and an engagement party…people went on dates. They made it their own very quickly

Todd: we did not expect it to be as much…because they were not used to it..but they quickly wanted to it.

Todd: one of the biggest challenges was giving up control

Ron; you audience are much more appreciative of a brand…the younger gen is a lot more media savvy.

Ron: the users have created some things…not ramped it up. We want to promote it, there has been some. Its an unbelievable new video medium…the characters respond well, it looks beautiful and that is what we spent a lot of time with people on show making sure we accurately reflected the show.

Josh: as transmedia, what the problems of creating this?

Todd: you have to do stealth work; not everyone if company is aware of the worlds; the system could not take it to get approval from all sorts of people; you have to get people to embrace it, who can help you further along. We are trying to play in their world.

Josh: is SL amenable to a transmedia space?

John: of course. People do, they can buy islands, it is vary doable. You can make it as open or as closed as you want. The first wave of educators wanted it closed…when in a new medium you create what you did in previous mediums. You can control permissions, you need to define for yourself how tightly you need to hold onto everything. Give people the tools, they will run with it. The most important thing to do is to realize they are full of real people, not just consumers.

Ron: multiverse toolset will allow people a very rich opportunity to create. At some level what I think we will see is a culture to encourage experiments.

Josh: what happens when the experiments end?

Ron: the quick answer is…it is becoming more dynamic world and some will fold…and lessons are learnt. The Myst space, having closed down, the users tried to reverse engineer, they went ot other worlds and created Uru diaspora. Cyan released a publically accessible version of the server to continue it. They are now re-launching it due to this community…there is whole range of things that could happen

Josh: what happens if Laguna beach cancelled?

Todd: we have great hope and faith that it will carry on…media does such a terrible job of letting people, to carry on with their love for the brand. If it does cancel there are enough people to keep this alive and hten who knows where it goes. It could turn into a whole other realm. It is very exciting.

Q: what do you think about threat to tax inworld transactions?

John: the government is interested in you getting cash. In SL, it is the same when you get US dollars from Linden dollars. This is all very muddy waters, how do they tax in world. In WoW everytime I kill a boar I pay a tax cos there is a value???

Ron: people in teen world (Laguna) more open to sharing and giving things. So when people come up to you and give you something digital should that be taxed?

Todd: in MTV there are people who go after this exchange of IP, meanwhile the mass of the company is not that way. Depends on who gets the more attention, things can move ahead sometimes form revenue. We look at putting the user in control but squeezed with revenue.

Q: the idea of multitasking and how the younger generation can handle more and more…my sister can handle 10 things at once and I’m 6 years older and can’t do any of that.

Todd: right, young are quite adept at multitask…but look at the numbers, adults are actually more adept than they think they are…look at the work world. People between 21-49 squeeze 35 hours in a day. Media is playing a bigger role, media is less a part of people over 25.

Q: SL economy…what kinds of things are people buying and selling? What is the driver for people to buy ‘food’

John: avatars, clothing, skins, devices, objects, anything you can imagine. Also services, real estate market, people have mad landscaping skillz who charge for this service. But why do people go to a bar, sit down. Here’s a restaurant that take s reservations and a chef prepares food a the table. Why? There is a prt of the brain that like certain things regardless of whether it makes sense. Whne you meet people, you end up sitting down. Why are there houses with roofs? It feels good. It somehow feels right having a pizza in a bar when hanging out.

Q: watching Laguna Beach, as it is tied to a show…do the creators of the show check in on the show, take a look at how fans are interacting with the characters.

Eric: the characters are not there. But we have bought in the cast as celebrity appearances. A huge part of the world is talking about the show, everyone has a strong affinity with the show. There is a lot of learning going on, not just virtual but other places.

Q: I’m looking at this and seeing an opportunity for soaps to crate a world to get people to react with characters, give the writers tools to see how people interact.

|Todd: I’m trying to kill the focus groups. The responders have learned how to manipulate this. It is not what it is about, it needs to remain objective. We screen show in world and get responses that way. At the beginning the creative people were not involved…but we crated it first and when they had something to react to and then we got them involved.

Q; coming out of MUDs etc, what sorts of responsibilities do you think you have regarding addiction? What sort of safeguards should be in the technology to watch out for things

Ron: these experiences are very positive, we do it as we seek to have positive results and often succeed. What is happening is a going awareness of culture and media and the interaction. The culture will continue to learn..

Q: what about the digital divide debate? You as the designers of these new public spaces have gone far beyond traditional designers of public spaces…they have fallen by the wayside….not a question but a general vibe about the overlap of the environments…the difference between my avatar and me can be vast and what overlaps are you seeing.

John: these spaces are very real…look at history of any new medium we think it is going to destroy society. We end up finding a balance. They are just different mediums.

Ron: the paradigms that work for our grandparents do not work for us…but this has been the case for awhile. …. I think it wonderful that teens are not constrained by peers in their immediate location…we are discovering all sorts of emergent stuff and we will continue to do so.

Todd: the digital divide? People are working towards new opportunities, they are not all predicated on people have cable tv and about devices that are more readily accessible. We are aware of the divide, some data shows it is collapsing or is growing. Other brands across the network are targeting these audiences.

Q: I’ve been thinking about Snow Crash…in that world you programming chops defined how you were in the metaverse, it was a single platform that everyone could be in. As these things become more pervasive and talking to each other, people will wan tot take their avatar with them. Is there another kind of divide among about people who can and cannot generate experiences in the world?

John: I suck at making avatars…so I bought this one. Anyone can create things and sell them. There are business opportunities…and that is the way to will be. There is the opportunity for specialisation if you give the tools, the market will solve those problems as it does in the real world

Ron: in the high end WoW your gear indicates what quest you have been in. In multiverse world you should be able to go to the worlds from same client and possibility with same avatar. We are developing a market place for content creators. There is adialogue between marketing and culture that is fascinating as well, part of the human culture defining itself, how we evolve culture,…ties back to individual experience.

Q: Transmedia aspects? How much control about people commenting on experience and community to support. How often do real world communities comment back in the space?

Ron: there’s an evolution, especially in MMOs, where you are tied into the community and my job is learning from the community. That is going to be more and more how content creation compnaies understand their role but interacting with their communities and establishing relationships.. the ones that will be successful…will be sincere.

Eric: we are actively in VLB talking to people, reacting ot people, we change how we do things, how we message things and who we talk to, we posted a forum link buried deep and we got 200postings in 2 days. We love talking to them, some of them we promote and we have a special club and are in constant communications. We love to hear it, they will make it a success.

Q: what are the 2-3 most effective and ineffective research techniques

Todd: ineffective: focus groups, quantitative surveys that are unmediated, you can field a survey and probe when required…where you get moderation to probe, combine qual and quan. Effective, observations research if great…so you see how people are using the worlds etc, costs more money but payoff is greater. Panels never been a fan of and try to avoid, less effective unless tied into something real.

Q: On topic of content creation and having customers doing things in the world that you did not expect? How do you let people create avatars with the things they want? And how do you decide what tools to give people?

John: anyone in SL can create anything anytime, as long as the land allows it. The tools are in the hands of every single user can create. Give people as general tools as possible not to hinder people. You can do what you want…the scripting allows extensions. We give people a touchstone but fromn where they go it is up to them.

Q: concept of IP in these spaces? If I;m generating income from one of the worlds, what makes a creator allow people to move things…and what about the copybot problem?

John: the copybot is not just SL, it is what is on your computer that is copyable. It is more of an issue in SL when there is a inworld economy. We are going to have more attribution etc. from the beginning, we have said that you own it, you can do what you want. We retain some rights to use images in marketing but that is all.

Ron: our goal is to empower range for the designers. There are all kinds of experiences. On movement between worlds…I’m looking for all sorts of emergent behaviour…looking at the multipass..maybe a few designers will join up and sell worlds as a package.

Q: to what extent to these worlds have plans to integrate with the larger information space with the net and leverage that as a way to navigate this information?

John: you can bring video and audio, you can use the scripting to pass info into and out of SL…eg flickr integration. The platform is open to all sorts of things,

Nov 18

Fan Cultures – Futures of Entertainment

The first session today is on Fan Cultures.

Once seen as marginal or niche consumers, Fan communities look more ‘mainstream’ than ever before. Some have argued that the practices of web 2.0 are really those of fan culture without the stigma. Courted, encouraged, engaged and acknowledged, fans are more and more frequently being recognized as trendsetters, viral marketers, and grassroots intermediaries. Fan affinity is being seized as a form of grassroots marketing, representing the bleeding edge of brand and property commitment. The sophistication of fan-created products rivals the professional products they honor, sometimes keeping defunct properties alive long after their shelf life might otherwise have expired. How is the increasing importance of fan behavior re-writing the media landscape? What kinds of accountability should media companies have to their most committed consumers? What kinds of value do fans create through their activities? What are the sources of tension that still exist between media producers, advertisers, and fans?

The speakers are: Diane Nelson, danah boyd, Molly Chase.  Chair is Henry Jenkins

Henry: I had the experience of doing a blog search, and found a post about ‘normal’ people who watch tv, those who are fans who go out an buy things and the third is fanatics who get their cultural identity from the property.  She misquoted, but it was interesting.  But how do you define fans.


Diane: as new as everything is, it si all very much the same. the underlying themes are about understanding consumers, their motivations and respecting them.  If there was a single definition, it is that there is a connection between a person and the property so that they feel a sense of ownership.  It can be fanatical or can just be enthusiasm.,  It is important not to overgeneralise, you have to understand who they are and what drives them to speak with relevance and authenticity

Molly: respect is a running theme…you have to give them different expriences, gfrom the 2 min game to the year game.  We cater for both.  Speaking at the conference, people come up and say they speak Japanese to undersntad the shows but not everyone done so what are you doing for these people

danah: you have the agency to take things and mix them up; we feel as though all of this world, if we take parts of it we can make sense of it.  A lot of the attempts to make digital bodies is an attempt to make sense, to put it in a form to share and show others something about yourself.  When you see what people take on and are willing to appropriate to express themselves and other peoples reactions.  A teenagers bedroom if filled with stuff, and the same things go on online and this info says somethings about them and marks them in relations to people.   When you project you fanship out to there people it makes a social statements


Henry: How does this discourse give companies a better way of understanding their users.


danah: (overview of the history of social networks, especially the Friendster reaction to bands and how they did not help them and the myspace that offered to help bands).   On myspace, it was the really hardcore indi rock kids who frist got on the site and they got their friends in, without the hard core fans, and they found the other things they could do.  Music acted as a cultural glue and the site offered a wide vareiry of ways of interacting, allows the high participators to be in the same place os the ones  who just want to hang out.

Molly: interesting on how fans use tech that you would not anticipate.   They had a trading card community and introduced a trading game in 20003. they worked hard to allow people to find others; they had system in place to find exact players. They launched and it did ok but not what expected.  So what were they missing?  So they thought about it, and thought they do not care who they were playing against so they introduced an instant play, so they could play immediately and not find people.  Use went up 20%.  Kids already had a way to find people, they have these, they just wanted to play.  Now they use prototypes more and do user testing we know that they will take on a life of its own.

Diane: there was talk about how isolating the web was, but the web is allowing the behaviours to connect.  The behaviours are so fundamental and we need to step back and not overthink….the real thing to take into account is about control, they are going to modify and tailor the technology to suit there needs.   We are moving form an industrial society to a social one, we cannot push things on people.

danah: the earliest waves of net culture were driven from an interest driven groups;  they allowed people to come together with a shared interest.  But real social lives have a funny network, they are not the same.  you needed different ways to connect with different groups.  SN structures are being built into sites, they create different ways, groups and me…so egocentric and topical interest group structures, and the 2 ways are starting to operate together.  Allow you to move between them easily.   This element has allowed traditional fandom to expand, to get people who don’t have a deep engagement to share as well, you are allowed to have a conversation about fandom because you are in a trusted group of friends.


Henry: we are seeing a changing relationship between media producers and fans,


Diane: it’s all about control.   It is impossible in any relationship to demonstrate respect and trust without a dialogue.  But the problem with a dialogue you may not like what the other person says.  When creating content that is complex and the vision of a few and also coupled with financial goals and responsibilities you have an equation where one side is not that interested hearing what is said as ot makes difficult.   The inference that UGC and professionally created content that is mutually exclusive??? There is still room for artists.   The media producers may not want the dialogue in process of creating. The media compnaies need to recognise that when consumers begin to engage, you cannot turn that off; but difficult to deal with.  Look at slash fiction and harry potter, how do you deal with this when it is primarily driven by children.  The creator knows that the primary audien ce is children and is it ok to allow children to inadvertently wnader into an other area of fandom.   Warner have learned, especially from potter, that you can’t simply make it black and white as every bit of expression os a good thing that will continue potter.  But have to be prepared to say we are not going to condone, we are not going to tell you you canlt do it but we have a responsibility to the creators vision, we have to server the broadest audience. There are many properties where the the challnge is not so good; look at the matrix, their demo is more likely to be consistent and more manageable.  It goes back to respect issue, if you fortunate to have a wide connecting consumer property you cannot shut it off but it is not as simple as leaving it wide open

Molly: working with a childrens property is difficult; we get emails complaints about some stuff and we find that people have taken the cartoons and made them porn.   There are times to send out C&D; childrens stuff is a fairly easy one to make the call for porn.  

Diane: opportunism shifts things to a different level; creative expression is one thing but intentionally trying to make money is different. How do you define exploitive and what is the responsibility of the rights owner.   We have wonderful fan sites that are looking to make just enough money to run the site, we sometimes support that with small tthings, like tshirts, have to be careful with this.  We have to monitor activity are they sustaining or are they trying to make profit.

danah: it is a question about who is trying to gain things by the control.  Friendster wasadating site and they moved to stop people who were not dating and lkilledoff the hubs of people who just got hteir friends.   When you start to kill off any attempt to create things.  So what kinds of behaviour do you kill.  Myspace kills profiles daily, such as hatespeach ones.  The reality is these people are not connected so they donlt throw fits so don’t tantrum.  It is important to have people behind those actions.  Look at Tom Anderson, on myspace…it is all a hack, was running on coldfusion, in earliest days they did not do the normal tests on forms, people took it to change things .  asmall group found out you could put any code in the profiles.  Myspace noticed in about 24 hours…initial reaction was to stop, but they let it go and they watched.  Tom acknowledgd it, said it was cool and asked them to be careful.  They did not kill off bad stuff immediately…even when people started to phish, they killed off specific things, specific kinds of codes, but did not kill off the practice.   They did not improve the profile creation etc, they just went with the copy paste culture; they started teaching people basic literature; give them the material to modify.  Lots of sites are now up helping people to mod things.  A culture is there about teaching people to mod things and is not about making it easy…it is very difficult to mod a myspace but an entire generation has figured out how to do it and support each other.   When youtube started it had a lot of porn and myspace banned it, but fans reacted and then they announced that they had accepted it and the usage went right up.  They stopped it because they did not realise what it was then supported it as it supported fan culture.  How do you make that balance

Molly.  Community is not always good, there are real life bullies and online bullies.  Myspace can be stressful, how many friends do you have, do you have the right friends.  It can be really negative.

Diane: on the batman movie, the script was very sensitive.  A copy of the script was leaked, we found out that someone had the complete script and could prove it.  There was a collective effort by fans online to make sure the script was not exposed. This was unusual; we respect the comics and we wan this experience to be great and we are going to self edit.  The studio was fascinated.


Henry: a lot of restrictions are there to prevent damage to properties.  Fans like property and this is a source of worth so how do fans increase the value,


Diane: they are the single biggest reason why properties are valuable.   It is not a commodity…but can be until the fans see this and create value.    I was hard pressed to think how fans can devalue a property; when they talk about it, spread it, embraces it, you have a momentum that any company should be thrilled to have.  The value train should be pretty obvious (see transmedia) the real value is the cultural value.  We won’t see harry potter again; it is a combination of a piece of art…and warner bothers started to engage it early and recognised that this is a property so owned by fans that if we did things to take ownership then we will be dead in the water.  So we established guidelines to remind us about this.   Put plan in place to say basic things, remind the franchises they needed to know the book, if you have questions about using the franchise then go back to the books. They put everything back to the books.   We had to make conscious decisions about promotion partners, it did not need some things, we did not turn it into something Hollywood.  The decision paid out in spades and is still paying out know.  Recognising the value fans and make decisions that recognise that ownership

Molly: difficult to think of something where fans devalue.  Look at Colbert and Hungarian bridge.   Fans know their power and know the influence they have. 

danah: looking at spaces where fans congregate.   They need ads to stay alive.  If some fans take it to the level of slash it can alienate the advertisers.  If you have a diversity of fandom in one space and part is problematic and you don’t control it, it could spiral out of control.   Tech companies go for separate or equal spaces, separate ages, or countries,   as if this would solve it.   Once you get images or videos look at the costs.   You cannot afford it, consumption becomes a process and you have to rely on commercial monies and then you have difficult of diversity.  Fans do not always approve of others fans activities.  So for the owners at what point to the engage in the fan interactions.  So how do you balance these anarchistic practices. Some of the difficulties come into the social plays in the economies around it.


Henry: so what role do fans play in marketing strategies?   Some fans have noted the difference in treatment when a property is new vs a big success.


Diane: not an entirely fair assessment.   Our recent batman and superman movies each had creators that were very engaged in property and fan bases and respected them.. there was dialogue that happened, eg Singer did a blog.  He would show you anything. Had fan dialogue. To a certain extent it was controlled, but not from a marketing thing, which is brian determined the content, with a eye to what would impact in theatres.  He was very inclusive with fans but not completely malleable.  

If the fan stuff  is driven by marketing, it will fail it has to be driven buy the creator.

Molly: the smaller the property the more fans have an investment in it.  As a small network do not have much chance to put things out there, but try and do things.  Have an explorer game, and did not include a map deliberately.  So within days of launching a game, fans went out and created their own maps.   They created venues to talk about the game.   They are restricted in what they could contribute, but were interested observes.  But we have not done a lot to seed things.  On a summer campaign, there marketing dept put stuff on youtube…the legal dept sent a C&D – they did not communicate

danah: people put a lot of fake profiles on the site…then friendster did a fakester genocide.  Then went and sold the rights for media compnaies to create fake profiles…and the fans went what the hell.   Myspace never stopped it, which encourage…fans would create all sorts…if you best friend did not want one, you made it.   On myspace profiles you show your friends, but you can’t show them all…myspace by letting you choose your 8 friends.  Users wanted top 16, top 24 etc, the number one request.   Myspace sold this feature to Xmen…if you make friends with xMen you can have a top 24.  this drove friends to XMen…and you got all their bulletins.  So you can post all the information this way.  Now everything has a profile, that is used as a marketing tool and that now everyone ignores.  When fans are doing as it is fun and interesting they are happy. When feeling they are being manipulated they are not happy.  About half are under 18 and the most are under 35…there are tensions with the influencers…ie parents etc and those who want to abuse the users, ie marketers and paedophiles.  Parents and marketers are flooding the system with ideas of how the system should be used so it feels like it is user manipulated not user generated.



Henry: fandom is global.  Even if owners want to control access to locales.   Is this changing the way media producers make decisions.


Diane: talking about it a lot at WB, but in terms of piracy.  Not always easy or the right things to put things everywhere at once.   Something we are grappling with, hits early in the cycle for marketing, ie trailers go global.  Media companies are going to be forced to integrate or they will die.  It has not changed the model yet, other than thinking of implications now.  It is forcing us to better appreciate the consumers; do not assume they are stupid.   We have to really work hard not to under appreciate the fans.   they may want to see on the web, and the movies and the tv.

Molly: one of the biggest challenges early on was not to show a show in India as it would be offensive.  Now cartoons are spread.  Subtitles japans.   Just because fans take copies, does not mean they won’t want to own the dvd.  The window of introducing shows has come down, various issues.  But getting this done is complex, getting everyone to work together at the same time. It is now more a matter of logistics then trying to manipulate the windows.  

danah: there is an assumption that if you put it out there it will be global instantaneously.  But creators are having to deal with this, understanding the reach. It does not mean that it is global, how do you balance global vs local. Information that has stickiness flows through networks and the majority of networks are local.  Certain people have the power.  Most people do not.    Interesting question about how far content can reach.  Marketers want to capitalise the influence agents.  Things do have viral growth that is powerful but can be very slow.  To what degree are people just surfing.  Tags are the dumbest things…but are the pot smokers dream and you can just click and get content.  A lot of search and surfing is random, looking for cool things.  Teenagers click on links randomly to see where they get.


Q: biggest issue we have, about relinquishing control, it can be extremely negative.   We have tonnes of fake profiles of our entertainers…so what sort of controls have been put in place in the communities to keep a handle on it.  We want to encourage the fans who create these fake profiles but have control.


danah: myspace is outing in controls which is pissing off the fans.   there is an opportunity to work with your fans to work with them and redirect the information.   A lot of the band stuff on myspace is with bands who do not have money to do the site and engage the fans to push the stuff.  With your situation it may not be as bad…you have people enjoying being the characters.

Diane: instead of thinking about controlling it look for the opportunity to tap inot to get information out. The sites have extensive reach to fans that have interest and can use it to get words out. Rather than controlling use the network to get the word out.  Give people the alert that the profiles are not real.  

danah: when fans are involved they do not want people to be manipulative, to make inappropriate stuff.  The fans will do the legwork if you let them.


Q: there is confusion and trying to find the line between marketing and trying to support the community.  For our generation we are resistant to commercialisation and the one behind us have grown up with far more.  Are the youth so immersed in advertising you do not have to worry about crossing the line?


Molly: we have lots of restrictions around how we advertise (as a kids site) kids are brilliant at ignoring or taking on the marketing.  The first question we get when launching things is what’s the catch.   You have full episodes and people ask what is the catch…happy that it is advertising rather than subscription

Diane: you can never take for granted younger peoples screening process… so even if coming up with immersed experiences does not mean they are not savvy in rejecting. My hope is that there is some kind of greater onus to advertisers to up the bar in getting the message out.  They are more savvy and can demand and reject advertising. 

Molly: with advertising content is king.   If not interesting then it will be rejected.

danah: teenagers are so used to it they blank it out…’you don’t make relevant ads so it is useless’.   Look at revver, lonelygirl15, you get paid to share the videos if someone click so the ad.   You put the video on your site and you get the money for ad clicking.   In US, ads are the economy but it is not global, ie not making sense in china.  Look at SN sites that are micropayment supported.    We have a set of paradigms because we live here, the UK and Aus following this but different worlds elsewhere and have to think about this globally.


Q: pre-web the distinction about a fan was whether you were active.   It seems to be altered into a seamless continuum, where you can just identify yourself as a fan and that is enough.  Are we coming up with language/jargon to identify the active people?


Molly: a fan is someone who is seeking out people who have shared the experience.   We have not come up with new vocab.

Diane: one of the things I have learned with harry potter is how deeply personal the connection is.  Whenever the new movies come out, the office get calls from families who have children who are dying who want nothing more to see the new movie…they do things to help this.  It gets very very emotional;   the activity with which someone expresses the fandom takes different forms, there is such a spectrum that is so personal.  There is something that people connect with…it comes out in all different ways.  I would to figure out language but there may be no way to do it

danah: language can be done but the categories can be dangerous.   Each individual has the nuanced understanding of being a fan, what it means for them…at the other end of it is signalling and the cost of signalling.  Online I can say that I am the biggest fan in the world and what does it take to prove it.  People learn ways to challenge what people say. Online everything comes performative.  People hold a metal model of the complexity that does not ness have to be categorised.


Q: there has been discussion about monetising fandom; is this a happy marriage between fans and the legal ownership. Or can you see a point when they come into open conflict.  Or second, (missed second question)


danah: when I look at it…I am excited that google bought youtube,,we are used to challenges about copyright being individuals fighting big corps and we are now going to see a big fight to work out the big issues.   One is a copyright issue about ownership and you have the net neutrality issue…I look at this and there are a lot of legal interesting issues that will be fought out on scale now.   In terms of the queering of it, there a lot of questions.  So who is the audience, what is the space and you don’t have the traditional walls, you had to be in the know before… now anyone can access but what are the implications..

Molly: in terms of the rights there is no substitute for an open dialogue.  So on the adult stuff, we asked for content and were upfront that there would be nothing in return.   You have security in place to look at submissions or you ignore and it is frustrating

Diane: the music industry was the precursor the rest of the industry.  Optimistic that we will get something that people will use…we need to acknowledge that it is coming in some form…it is not that consumers will win with UGC…it’s not that simple…fans respect the creations.  There are degrees to which we acknowledge and it should…let those people who want to connect do so freely but not role over into other audiences who are not looking at it.

Danah: the networked publics have 4 properties.: .persistent, searchability, replicability and invisible audiences.    These existed before and are really are part of everybody’s life and this complicates the relationships between fan practices and the industries connected to.. now it is searched for easily.. and you can see how it is being used.   You can’t build the walls back…you are dealing with a gen that is growing up with that kind of life.


Q: as an interactive company we try and make sure that everything is engaging…but other compnaies do not…isn’t myspace partly responsible for curating what is on there…to keep it call.  The agencies have to make sure they are making things cool…and clients who just want to do it cos its called and myspace where it is there environment and maintain a little piece of exclusivity.


Danah: myspace: you cannot pay attention to all that happens…tom is on there 20 hours a day but that does not mean they see everything.  2/3 of staff surf looking at site…looking for illegal activity = predators, hatespeach and copyright.  They may not be able to manage all the stuff, keep it cool…it is a risk…the amount of stuff that is dumped there…there is no cost to create a profile…dans just ignore the trash…most of the users of myspace have no idea of the wide variety of stuff that is on there.  Most users do no searching on site, look at friends pages…only search when bored.  The direct marketing is killing things of.  Phishing is much more insidious…bulletin advertisements written with hacked in accounts.  Very disruptive…they are trying to keep up…


Q: to what extent do you think about migration from web to a mobile environment?


Diane: fans want to interact everywhere you can authentically and realistically give them the experience.   It is not just about slapping a label on content, but it is suited for the environment  we have struggled to do it at the quality level fans want.  If you find the right content to serve up fans will absorb it as much as the rest. 

Molly: a mobile becomes an extension of you personality…we take careful pride in creating content specific to the medium…we do original stuff that is relevant.   The experience you will have an immersive online experience that you can check in with mobile stuff but not duplicating.

danah:  In the US there is a huge problem with mobile and that is to do with carriers…they have complete control of the applications, so no one can put innovative social media on the phone which is harming the media.  There is stuff happening outside the US, in japan, etc, fandom is on the phone as well.   Young people by phone and repurpose it…in US we are obscenely behind rest of world and there are a lot of factors…I hope it will emerge but we will see it in Korea and China first.  Pay attention to google looking at mobile phone OS. You need the neutrality of phone for the apps to do things.  People want to do things but costs too much and is so difficult,.


Q: Is community and fandom part of the same continuum…and as trying to create community for content creators and are there lessons to be learned from fandom.


Molly: for animators the community is small and overlapping.  

danah: community is one of the most problematic words…you see groups of people that come together…in fandom, prior to SN, the creators of the content had little access to their fans…and for many it is a powerful opportunity and the small bands begun to frame their community and leverage it.   There is a symbiotic relationship between bands and fans…rallying the fans and the fans can display their friendship and use it.   Forming those kinds of relationships is key…networks practices that do not rely on physicality have been key to success.


Q: has anyone looked at triggers to get people from casual viewer to a committed fan?  Do the media compnaies have an interest in understanding


Henry: no science to it…a lot of research… there are a few frameworks…it is hard to measure emotional intensity… after 20 years not sure any closer to understanding…

danah: most of how you can measure is based on the traces they leave…which is about activity rather than emotional response.   Facebook newsfeed let your friends now what you are doing…the experiments are raw and awkward but will begin dot be applicable in surfacing up traces.


Nov 18

Opening Remarks – Futures of Entertainment

Josh Green gave the introduction speach this morning – Viscerality and Convergence.   A very image driven presentation so no live notes taken.    The key message is about the reactions to technology; how we bash hit and play technology until it makes our rules.  Look at the reactions, in images, the doctoring of the advertising, that happened in the reaction to the Zune.   How people respond to being constrained or how technology relationship change your behaviour.   How by buying an iPod it changed his relationship to music.    That he can put lots of music on there.  The relationship he has with the iPod feels social, he uses it to facilitate the social.

People are starting to get it, and what they are starting to get is the changed relationship.   In a converged environment, the way that we relate to technology is changed.

Social networks let you be somewhere, let you rub up against people and get to know them, experience the social.  Social networks have moved towards trust networks. Where style leaders for an individual are people you know and trust.  moves away from the the wide network to the focused group.  We are move more towards a tactile relationship, not jsut putting things out there and expecting you to soak it up.

The audiences does not equal behaviour; it is not a series of reactions.   there is a transition of impressions to expressions.  The audience now offer expressions of what they think.  Fan fiction is consumer expression.  People take the commodities and turn them into culture.  The paradox is that media producers make commodidities..but in order for it to be successful it needs to be transformed from a commodity to a cultural artifact.  But once it becomes culture you have to cede control, it is no longer yours.

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.